How to Cook the Best Pancakes (Ever)
There's nothing like waking up and making pancakes for someone you love, even if it's just you. Pancakes are comfort food; they are warm, hearty, and filling. They are a treat and nothing is better than a bite of pancake dripping with sweet syrup and a salty pat of fresh butter.
But...they are also really finicky and a pain in the butt to make. Well, until now. That's where I come in.
The way I figured out how to make great pancakes was trial and error. I probably could have researched how to do it, but I thought I was pretty close to a breakthrough to making the best pancakes ever, and I was right.
What You Need
A griddle or crepe pan (two of the same or one of each)
Griddle and crepe pans are flat pans with low edges, which make it a lot easier to get to the pancakes with a spatula
I find I can check to see the brownness of the pancakes more easily with a flatter pan
I have a griddle pan and a crepe pan and I use both at once so I can cook pancakes faster and make sure my pancakes are still hot when I serve them
One spatula should be either a silicone or plastic turner (spatula)
It doesn't matter if the turner (spatula) is slotted or not, it won't affect your pancakes
This spatula is used to help push the pancake onto the other (fish turner) spatula
One spatula should be a fish turner spatula
I find fish turner spatulas are great for pancakes because they are very long and make it easy to scoop up the entire pancake
I use the OXO fish turner and find it is a good quality turner that doesn't rust (I hand wash mine)
A good pancake recipe or mix
If you plan on making pancakes from scratch, make sure you are using the best ingredients you can get because your pancakes are only as good as your ingredients
Use filtered water, organic eggs (preferably humanely-raised), organic salted butter, organic flour, kosher salt, organic sugar, real vanilla extract, etc.
I use Birch Benders organic pancake mix (the original mix) and find that it makes great pancakes, all you have to mix in is water
I've seen Birch Benders sold at many grocery stores and Target
A pancake pen or a large spoon
Pancake pens are great for producing evenly sized pancakes, but they also hold on to a lot of batter that gets wasted (in my experience)
I found a really good pancake pen at World Market, but you can find them at most kitchen stores or on Amazon for fairly cheap
A large spoon works for distributing pancake batter, but your pancakes won't be perfectly round and evenly sized (unless you are a magician, that is)
The plus is you will definitely get all of your batter out of your bowl and won't waste any
Make sure whatever bowl you use is easy to hold and won't slip from your hand
I use OXO mixing bowls with a non-slip bottom, making it easy to hold the bowls and I never have to worry about them spinning around while I'm mixing the batter
A balloon whisk
I use a balloon whisk because it seems to mix the batter quickly and easily without the risk of over-mixing
You can use a fork, flat whisk, or mixing spoon, but I find that these can sometimes result in over-mixing and your pancakes won't be as fluffy
What To Do
The first thing you should do is get out all of your ingredients for your pancakes
Mix your pancake ingredients together slowly until they are just mixed. Don't be too rough or stir too fast, just mix slowly until all the ingredients are blended and stop. Take out your whisk or mixing utensil and set it to the side
Leave your pancake batter for about five to ten minutes. Go back to the bowl and see if bubbles have formed in the batter. If the batter is just starting to form bubbles, turn your burners on your stove on. If they haven't formed bubbles yet, wait until you start to see bubbles form, then turn on your burners
Once you see bubbles forming in your batter, set two of the largest burners (or whatever burners fit your pans the best) on your stove top to medium, then adjust your heat to the setting just before medium. I find that exactly on medium heat is usually too hot
Take out a tablespoon of butter for each pan, then spread out your melted butter in the pan until the bottom of the pan is coated in butter
After your butter is melted, look at your batter and see if more bubbles have formed. There should be medium-sized bubbles and small bubbles, but about half of your batter should have bubbles in it. If there aren't enough bubbles, wait another five minutes and enough bubbles should have formed by then. If not , you may have over-mixed the batter. You can still proceed but your pancakes might not be as fluffy
Once your pancake batter is ready, take the bowl and either put the batter into pancake pen (try to put it in gently because you don't want to disturb the bubbles), or get out your large spoon
If you are using a pancake pen, squeeze the same about of batter into each pan quickly so they will cook at just about the same time
If you are using a spoon, spoon out an equal amount of batter onto each pan. Don't try to push the spoon into the batter on the pan to make it more even and don't try to mix the batter in the bowl again at any point. The bubbles will be broken or disturbed and those bubbles are your pancake's best friend. Don't kill their best friend
Once the pancakes are nearing being totally cooked on one side, you'll see little brown bubbles of butter surrounding the cooked edge of your pancake and the top of the uncooked side won't look so wet. The bubbles will look more solid and more part of the pancake.
Take your fish turner and very gently push up the edge of the cooked side of the pancake while taking the other spatula and holding it at the other side of the pancake at the edge (so it doesn't slide to the edge of the pan). If the pancake looks golden brown, it's time to flip it. If it doesn't, well, you know, just wait it out and check periodically.
If it's time to flip your pancake, slide the fish turner under the cooked side of the pancake while taking your other spatula and holding it against the end of the pancake so it doesn't slide off the fish turner
Flip your pancake fairly quickly yet close to the pan's bottom so you don't splatter your uncooked pancake and don't break any bubbles. You want to flip it quickly enough so your uncooked batter doesn't slide off, but not so quick you spatter uncooked batter everywhere. All it takes is a little practice, so don't get discouraged if you don't do it "right" the first time
Once your pancake is flipped, don't touch it, just wait until you see the little brown butter bubbles and check it just like the first time
When your pancakes are done, just put them on a plate and store them someplace warm until all of your pancakes are done. I find it better to put them all on a plate in the microwave and it keeps them pretty warm
Repeat the process until all of your pancakes are done, then adorn your pancakes with toppings of your choosing
I hope this has helped you make the best pancakes you have ever made in your life. Did you find these tips helpful? Do you have any other tips? Please share your thoughts in the comments!