By Mike Ayers
Recently, I've grown fond of waking up on Saturday mornings and making pancakes for my wife and our son. The problem is they're less than appetizing. Yes, I've been relying on box mixes - some would say for too long - and while my family would never send back their breakfast, deep down I knew that they were flawed. Thin, unflavorful things that rarely look like circles and lacked a certain fluff I knew should be there. I wanted to be better. Our wives, girlfriends and friends dropping in for a weekend expect and deserve better.
Lo and behold, there's a new cookbook simply titled Pancakes from A Cozy Kitchen's Adrianna Adarme. My prayers had been answered. "Pancakes are really nostalgic," Adarme says about the pancake's wooing properties. "That's why they tend to be comforting. They're one of the first things you eat as a kid for breakfast with your family." If you're thinking you too might have a pancake problem, Adarme broke down five ways that you can ramp up your pancakes, with a recipe, to boot:
While you can use pretty much any milk when creating a pancake batter, buttermilk is the route to take. "Buttermilk gives this subtle tang," she says. "A lot of people don't want to buy buttermilk because it usually has one sole purpose: to make pancakes." Buy some buttermilk, put it in the fridge, and use the leftovers to make some Sunday-night fried chicken.
This one in particular, Kate's Homemade Buttermilk, is really good. -The Editors
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2. As Is the Cast-Iron Skillet
In the introduction to Pancakes, Adarme swears by the cast-iron. And this may seem obvious, but it's worth mentioning: "You want to preheat your skillet," she says. "The baking powder reacts to the heat immediately. If you pour the pancake batter into the cold stove, it won't rise the way it's supposed to."
3. Strong, Thick Batters Are a Good Thing
A few small to medium lumps are good, FYI.
A weak batter can be a problem, and to get a thick cake like you would order from your favorite diner, it's important to get it just right. "The basic buttermilk pancake recipe is on the thicker side," she says. "Thick is good. To thicken pancake batter, you can take a sifter and add a tablespoon of flour at a time to make it thicker if its too runny. I see a lot of people stirring the batter until it's completely smooth. But you have to have some finesse and not over-mix it. What you're doing is overdeveloping the gluten so it becomes elastic, like pizza dough. That's good when it comes to pizza dough, but not good when you're making pancakes."
4. As Are Your Own (Strong) Toppings
Like bourbon-spiked maple syrup.
It may sound like a lot of work, but you can do a few simple homemade toppings the day before that will not only accentuate your final product, but garner you points for going the extra mile. Try mixing maple syrup, unsalted butter, two tablespoons of bourbon and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan. "It tastes a little like sweet whiskey," Adarme says. "You have to skim off the butter because it separates. That's the easiest."
Olive Oil and Italian Sausage Pancakes.
You're probably familiar with a sweet on sweet pancake like chocolate chip pancakes. But there are many ways to interject a savory attitude into the sweetness of the pancake. For example, Adarme showcases cheddar bacon pancakes and a play on pigs in a blanket that infuses Italian sausage. "When you're folding in bits of bacon and sausage, you should just do it gently," she says. The only real thing that you should be concerned about is the weight of what you're adding in. "If you wanted to riff of one of the recipes and use chorizo (that are still in their casing), I'd recommend adding them directly onto the pancake after you pour the batter into the skillet. Heavier mix-ins like sliced chorizo, fruit, berries, etc. tend to sink to the bottom of the bowl batter."
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Adarme's Pancakes: 72 Sweet and Savory Recipes for the Perfect Stack is out now on St. Martins.
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