5 Secrets to Perfect Pancakes

Photo by Stephanie FoleyPhoto by Stephanie FoleyBy Tanya Steel, Epicurious.com

February always holds a lot of meaning for me: Valentine's Day, my boys' birthday, Thank a Mailman Day, oh, and Pancake Month. I love me some flapjacks.

See also: Aphrodisiacs to Sweeten Your Valentine's Day

Shrove Tuesday (February 21) historically revolves around the pancake, the theory being adherents should use up all of the richer ingredients in their home before Lent, such as eggs, butter, and sugar. One of the celebrations held worldwide are pancake races, reputedly inspired by a late churchgoer who raced out of her English home in 1444 to get to church on time, still holding her pan with a bubbling pancake.

While I could have pancakes morning, noon, and night (and have), it did take some perfecting to get them from rock-like to fluffy, ethereal clouds of batter-y goodness. Here are my five secrets to the perfect pancake:

1. Fresh is Best: Use only fresh ingredients, including items you wouldn't think about checking, such as baking powder.

2. Be Temperate:
Before using, bring food items to room temperature such as eggs and milk, otherwise it could affect the cooking, resulting in tougher pancakes.

3. Batter Up: The baking powder needs time to activate within the batter, so after gently incorporating the mixture until there are no lumps, let it sit on the counter for at least ten minutes.

Related: DIY Decor: Valentine's Day Crafts

4. Hot Skillet Coming Through: To your cold cast-iron pan--best for making pancakes--first warm a smidge of vegetable oil or butter. Only when the pan is truly hot should you pour in the batter.

5. Be Patient:
Don't flip the pancake until you see bubbles gracing its entire surface. Then, while its cooking on the other side, turn the heat down a bit and watch for burning. Wipe the pan with paper towels before making the next batch.

Are you in the mood for one or two right about now? We have 148 pancake recipes in our database, and one of my favorites is the sour-cream pancakes with sour-cream maple syrup (pictured above). What is your favorite pancake recipe?

More from Epicurious.com:
Healthy Comfort Food Recipes for Any Day

Chef's Super Bowl Recipes
One-Dish Wonders: Our Favorite Casserole Recipes
Blue-Ribbon Chicken Recipes