Not long ago, I had breakfast at rustic country diner. There pancakes were exceptional. Here’s what you can do to make pancakes as good as theirs:
1. Use a low gluten flour.
If you are not using a mix, use unbleached pastry flour. In a pinch, you can use all-purpose flour, but they won’t be as tender. Bread flour makes for a pancake that is tough and chewy.
2. Go easy on the mixing.
Mixing develops the gluten in the batter. Mix the dry ingredients together to dispense the leavening throughout the flour. Mix the recipe’s wet ingredients together in another bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until just moistened. There will still be lumps. That’s okay—they’ll cook out.
3. Get the batter to the right consistency.
The batter should be runny enough that it will spread on the griddle. If it is too runny, the pancakes will be crepe-like. As you progress through the batch, the batter will tend to become thicker as the leavenings work. Add a little more water or milk as needed but remember to stir minimally.
4. Prepare the griddle.
The cooks in most diners will lightly grease the griddle with a little shortening or vegetable oil, wiping off any excess. The rustic diner where I had breakfast used butter. Butter certainly tastes better. The disadvantage of butter is that it burns more readily and that means you have wipe any excess off between batches.
5. Get the griddle hot enough.
Set the griddle on high or medium-high heat. When the griddle is hot enough, water droplets will dance on the surface. After putting batter on the griddle, turn the heat to medium.
6. Cook uniform-sized pancakes.
Use a 1/3-cup measure for medium-sized pancakes and a 1/2-cup measure for larger pancakes.
7. Cook it right.
You can tell when it’s time to turn the pancake by watching the bubbles form and watching the edges of the pancakes. The bubbles tend to cook into little craters and the edges will be dry-looking when the pancake is ready to turn. A little practice makes perfect.
8. Keep your pancakes hot.
Pancakes are best if steaming hot. As you take the pancakes off the grill, cover them lightly with aluminum foil. Better yet, use a pancake and tortilla keeper to keep them hot. You may also stick the loosely covered plate in an oven heated to 275 degrees. For a special touch, heat the empty plates in the oven before serving.
Baker’s note: One of my granddaughters loves chocolate pancakes with coconut cream syrup. (Who wouldn’t?) When her mother makes these pancakes, she makes extra. She stacks the extra in a pancake and tortilla keeper and places the keeper in the refrigerator. When Lily gets home from school and needs a snack, her mother heats a couple in the microwave and serves them to her.