Tips for Making Better Pancakes

Joy WilsonJoy WilsonThe smell of pancakes and sweet maple syrup wafting through the air on a Sunday morning is a highlight of the weekend for many. Waiting for bubbles to appear on the pancakes (a good sign that they are ready to be flipped) is an exciting childhood cooking moment, not to mention stirring in chocolate chips or bananas to the batter…

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Yet so many pancake meals go awry. Sloppy flipping, overcrowding of the pan, and impatient cooks often lead to misshapen and broken pancakes. Accidents like this can lead to unhappy memories -I know this from personal experience.

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When I was 12, I woke up early one school-day morning to make my younger sister pancakes for her birthday without telling either of my parents. Sweet idea, yes, but unsupervised, my good-hearted attempt resulted in rock-hard pancakes (I think I severely overmixed the batter). Needless to say, even our dog wouldn't eat them…

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But I have overcome my pancake fear by following the advice of the pros, namely, Joy Wilson, aka Joy the Baker. A fabulous supporter of all things sugary, buttery, and delicious, Joy channels this love in her blog and throughout her new cookbook, aptly named, Joy the Baker.

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Here, she guides us through the basic steps of pancake making and supplies two tasty twists on traditional buttermilk pancakes.

Heat Level
Medium heat is ideal, explains Joy, because if the heat is too low, the pancakes will absorb too much of the fat they're being fried in, and if it's too hot, then they will brown too quickly. She also heats the oven to 200 degrees and places an ovenproof plate inside so that she can keep the pancakes warm while cooking up the remaining batter.

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When to Flip
Don't let hunger or anticipation tempt an early flip -Joy waits for the bubbles on top to start to burst before flipping, but if that doesn't happen, she'll "sneak a peek" after about a minute and a half to make sure they are brown on the bottom. Then, flip once and only once. She emphasizes that it's important to leave the pancakes alone and let them do their thing. For flipping, she prefers using a thin, flat spatula because the thinner it is, the easier it is to flip the pancake.

Fun Variations
One of the great things about pancakes is that there are so many different ways to make them. For super healthy pancakes, she recommends using whole-wheat flour, raw millet, poppy seeds, or maybe even a sprinkling of uncooked oats. For the sweet route, she says to try orange zest and chocolate chips or her Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes. For a more savory version, make pancakes with cornmeal and chives, and place an over-easy egg and sour cream on top. Or, try making these Bacon and Chocolate Chip Pancakes and serving them for dinner!

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-Yasmin Fahr, The Daily Meal