Honoring your parents is a biblical commandment, so we're lucky that we also have a special Sunday here in America dedicated to our moms.
This year, Mother’s Day is celebrated on Sunday, May 9, 2010. It is when we try our best to give mom a special day. After all, it’s the very least we can do, since she does so much for us!
Favorite recipes for Mother's Day brunch include scones, muffins and pancakes. Since we’ve discussed the muffin method in a previous column, and we’ll do scones later on, we’ve decided to dedicate the CKCA Mother’s Day baking column to help you create incredible pancakes for the favorite lady in your life. Pancakes are delicious and delectable, but even the most experienced of breakfast cooks can be confounded by homemade pancakes.
Tips for Top-Class Pancakes
Pancakes, also known as griddlecakes, are best leavened with baking powder, and are cooked very quickly over high heat. When done right, they can be the fluffiest, most delectable breakfast treat known to man (or woman, in this case). It’s best to use a non-stick pan or griddle, and to use just a whisper of butter while cooking. Pancake batter can also be used in waffle irons with a little additional butter; waffles also benefit from the egg whites being whipped separately.
Here are our top three CKCA tips to help you make perfect pancakes, every time:
1. Prepare a great batter recipe with fresh ingredients and don’t overmix!
Buttermilk pancakes are a classic recipe, and we’re happy to provide a fantastic Sour Cream-Buttermilk-Pecan version, but you may also have your own pancake recipe tucked away. That’s great, because it’s our goal to make any recipe you use a big success. If your recipe includes baking powder as your only leavening agent, you can prepare the batter the night before and store it in the refrigerator, so that you can start griddling right away on Sunday morning. With any other leavening agents, especially baking soda, it’s best to combine your batter right before using it. The key here (and we stress that this is really the key to fluffy, light pancakes!) is to simply combine the batter, don’t mix it too much; you can even leave lumps in the batter. Overmixing may make you feel virtuous, but it will only reward you with a leaden, hard cake. Again, only mix the wet and dry ingredients until they’re combined, no more!
You can also create unlimited and healthier pancake varieties by substituting other flours in place of the all-purpose flour in our recipe. Popular pancake flours include buckwheat, whole wheat, or even corn flour. Some of these flours may thicken the batter a little more, so you will need to add more milk to thin it to a batter-like consistency. You can also add fresh blueberries, well-drained frozen and thawed blueberries, or chocolate chips to your recipe, to give it an extra flavor punch.
Also, don’t forget to make sure your buttermilk and eggs are fresh. The freshest ingredients will help build a light batter.
2. Heat the griddle to a high-enough temperature
The biggest complaint people make about their own homemade pancakes is that the first batch on the griddle always doesn’t work out. This is because the griddle or pan has not been heated high enough. The griddle should be heated to approximately 375 degrees F, but since you can’t really measure the temperature of a home griddle, the best way to do it is to fleck several drops of water on the griddle and make sure they bubble furiously and disappear within two or three seconds. You want it just hot enough to prevent the griddle from smoking and setting off your house’s smoke detector.
3. Portion out only one ladle or spoonful and then cook until bubbles appear on the surface of the cake
When ladling out pancake batter, make sure to be conservative the first time around, to allow the pancake batter to spread out on the griddle. Once you see how much your cake spreads out, which depends on how much moisture the flour has absorbed, you can portion your pancakes accordingly, and figure out how many cakes you can make on the griddle at a time. Then, wait very patiently (usually it’s only a minute or two), until bubbles have appeared throughout the top of the cake. These bubbles are the result of the baking powder activating with the rest of the ingredients, and it lets you know the cake is cooking through. That’s when it’s ready for flipping. Try to flip the cake only once, as additional flipping will deflate the cake.
- Elizabeth Kratz is a staff writer at the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts. She is a graduate of CKCA's professional program in culinary arts and also holds a master's degree in non-fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University. Located in the heart of Flatbush Brooklyn, the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts offers professional culinary training programs and hands-on cooking and baking classes for all ages. Classes are taught by experienced chef instructors and are offered during the day and in the evenings. CKCA is the only kosher cooking school in the US, and offers professional level training programs in Culinary Arts and Baking & Pastry Arts.
Learn more about the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts by visiting http://www.kosherculinaryarts.com . Visit CKCA's professional baking and pastry program on the web at http://www.kosherbakingandpastry.com