Anyone for pancakes? I hope so, because that’s what we’re having for breakfast this morning.
Today’s pancakes are brought to you by yesterday’s conversation about the pancakes that we’re planning on eating one week from today. Did you get that? I wrote it, and even I had to go back and read that sentence twice. Let me explain.
The first thing you need to know is that our friends, Eitan and Julia, who relocated to D.C. during the 2009 mass exodus from Cambridge, moved back to town about six weeks ago. They now live in an apartment just four blocks from ours, and if you ask me, four is a much, much nicer number than four hundred and forty-seven, the approximate number of miles between Cambridge, MA and Washington, D.C. We marked their return with pizza, champagne, and Fairytale Brownies. It was late when we left their place that night, but only eight minutes later when we walked through our own front door. I'm so glad they're back.
That our friends are not only back, but four-blocks-away back, means that we often have occasion to walk home together from wherever it is we’ve been. Yesterday, on just such a walk, my thoughts turned to pancakes, and to the shamefully long list of Oscar-nominated movies that I haven’t yet seen, but that I’d like to before the awards ceremony later this month. And so, a plan was hatched: a Sunday morning of pancakes and movies at our place with our home again friends, one week from today. It was a lovely plan. It still is. The only problem is that when you’ve got pancakes on the brain, a week is an impossibly long time to wait to have them on your plate. So we didn’t.
I like to give credit where credit is due, so I should tell you that Eli is the head pancake maker in our household. My role in the process is more like head pancake desirer. It’s my job to recognize the hunger for pancakes when it strikes, and –quick like a pancake-crazed bunny– to alert Eli to the fact that it’s time. I have a real talent for it.
Pancakes around here normally mean Molly’s oatmeal pancakes, for the simple reason that they are amazing. But it’s February, and oatmeal has been in heavy breakfast rotation for four long, cold months now, and though I never thought I’d say it, I needed a break. I asked Eli for a more traditional buttermilk pancake this time around, and boy, did he deliver.
There are three things that set this recipe apart from your standard buttermilk pancake recipe. The first is the yogurt, a whole cup of it. That sounds like a lot of yogurt, especially against a single cup of flour, but the yogurt is barely perceptible in the finished pancakes. All that remains of it is the slightest tang. I think it’s also thanks to the yogurt that these pancakes manage to be both moist and light, a rare combination in the land of buttermilk pancakes, I’ve learned. While we’re talking texture, there’s also the cornmeal, a mere two tablespoons that, if you go for the more coarsely ground stuff, adds some barely-there grit to the smooth batter. It surprised me at first, but Eli said, "Embrace it!" and I did, and then I liked it a lot. Finally, the sugar in this recipe is brown, and that does something quite nice to the flavor. It’s deeper, smoother, more grown-up. I tend to steer clear of traditional pancakes because of the inevitable post-pancake crash, a result, no doubt, of so much unmitigated flour and sugar. These pancakes though, with more buttermilk, yogurt, and egg than flour, cornmeal, and sugar, combined, picked me up and kept me up.
Next Sunday can’t come soon enough.
Buttermilk Yogurt Pancakes
Adapted from Bon Appétit, October 2004
The editors at Bon Appétit call these pancakes “Buttermilk Pancakes With Maple Syrup Apples.” If you click through, above, to the original recipe, you can read all about these maple syrup apples, which earned high praise from home cooks in the reviews. We ate our pancakes with sliced pears (yes, those are pears on that plate up there, not pickles; don't they look like pickles?) and maple syrup, instead. I’d do it again. I decided to rename the recipe “Buttermilk Yogurt Pancakes” because there’s just as much yogurt in there as buttermilk, and it’s the yogurt, I think, that makes these pancakes so special.
1 c. all purpose flour
2 Tbsps. yellow cornmeal
2 packed Tbsps. light brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 c. buttermilk
1 c. plain whole-milk yogurt
1 large egg
1½ Tbsps. unsalted butter, melted
Additional butter for the pan
Combine the first six ingredients in a large bowl, and whisk to blend. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, yogurt, and egg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until just blended, but still lumpy. Don’t over-mix the batter, or your pancakes will be heavy. Gently mix in the melted butter.
Heat a large nonstick griddle or pan over medium heat and melt just enough butter to thinly coat the entire surface. Working in batches, drop the batter by 1/3-cupfuls into the pan. The pancakes will spread slightly, so be sure to leave some space between them. Cook the pancakes for about 3 minutes, until they are golden brown on the bottom, and bubbles form on top. Turn the pancakes over and cook until the bottoms are brown and the pancakes are barely firm to the touch. Transfer to an oven-safe plate, and keep warm in a low oven until you’re ready to serve.
Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more butter to the pan, as needed.