Until I started making buttermilk pancakes and sourdough pancakes from scratch, I really wasn’t all that fond of pancakes. I’m sure I enjoyed them as a kid, because what kid doesn’t like pancakes? But when my husband would make them for our kids, from pancake mix, they were always just so heavy and doughy, I didn’t really enjoy them. I had to start making them from scratch to fall in love with pancakes again.
I love sourdough pancakes. I like to make them on holidays when I’ve activated my sourdough starter to make sourdough rolls. But I don’t always have my sourdough batter activated and ready to go every time I want to make pancakes. You either have to keep your sourdough always growing on the countertop (which I don’t), or you have to plan ahead and activate your refrigerated starter the night before so you can make pancakes the next morning (which I don’t). And that’s why I love buttermilk pancakes, made with real buttermilk. They are light and airy and tender, like sourdough pancakes, and they have a similar flavor. And believe me, the flavor and texture of real buttermilk pancakes is nothing like the flavor and texture of a buttermilk pancake mix.
I make my own buttermilk now, so I always have it in the fridge. I usually only make 2 cups at a time, so I can use it up and keep making it fresh. (Click the link to see how easy it is to make your own buttermilk.) Also, my fridge is kind of small, so it helps with the space issue to keep just a pint jar going, and that’s enough for a big batch of pancakes, or a small batch of pancakes and a batch of biscuits. (Yeah, real buttermilk biscuits are the bomb, too.) Because I always have buttermilk on hand, I don’t have to plan ahead to make delicious pancakes.
I have also used milk kefir in place of buttermilk with the same results. I tried this because I had some kefir go a little alcoholic in the fridge when I was ill with the flu and unable to eat dairy. I didn’t care to drink it when I got better, but I didn’t want to waste it. The kefir made wonderful, light, fluffy pancakes, just like buttermilk, with no adjustments to the recipe.
I often make pancakes on the weekends. I use a gluten-free, bean-based flour, and Dennis loves them. He usually pours maple syrup on his.
I like to change it up. Sometimes I like maple syrup, but I often will open a jar of my blackberry syrup or another fruit syrup I’ve made, or I’ll spread my pancakes with my old-fashioned, low-sugar, strawberry jam made with whole berries. (You can tell this picture was taken recently during the kitchen renovation, because of the paper plate and plastic fork!)
Or maybe I’ll pile them with apple butter or pumpkin butter and then drizzle them with maple syrup. Here’s a pic of one spread with apple butter and then rolled up like a blintz. Then I coated it with maple syrup.
I like them in the summer with sliced fresh strawberries, or fresh raspberries or blueberries, or fresh peaches or nectarines, and whipped cream. And if you add an extra egg and thin the batter out a bit with more buttermilk, you can use this batter for crepes as well. Then you can fill them with sweetened cream cheese and fruit for blintzes. Oh, my. If you omit the sugar, you can use the crepes for a savory dish. I’ll have to dig out my old recipe for chicken or turkey main dish crepes!
Here’s my gluten-free buttermilk pancake recipe for two (double the recipe for a family), and after that, I’ll share an old buttermilk pancake recipe that uses wheat flour.
Gluten-free Buttermilk Pancakes
1 large egg
2 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil (I use grapeseed, olive, or avocado oil)
1 cup buttermilk or milk kefir (Regular milk can be used, but the flavor will be different. Omit baking soda if using milk, and increase baking powder to ¾ teaspoon.)
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup gluten-free baking flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill from bulk bins at Winco.)
1 Tbs. sugar (any kind, or can be omitted; I use coconut palm sugar)
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ + pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (can be omitted; I’ve forgotten it, and the pancakes still held together)
Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients in separate bowl; mix wet ingredients into dry. Let batter rest and get bubbly for a few minutes before baking on a hot, greased griddle or skillet.
I spread the batter out a little bit with the spoon to get a neater circle and a thinner pancake, although obviously they are not always the same size!
I cook at just hotter than medium in a little butter (and I really do mean a little) so they brown nicely and don’t have to be buttered after cooking, which can make pancakes soggy. Allow bubbles to form and break before trying to flip, and make sure the pancakes are fully set and browned on the bottom before you flip them. Don’t crowd the pan or griddle like I always try to do at least once.
You can make about a dozen small pancakes or 6-8 medium sized ones from this amount of batter. We usually have a couple left over that I save and reheat for a weekday breakfast.
Buttermilk Pancakes (with wheat flour)
1 ¼ cups buttermilk or soured milk* (or milk kefir)
2 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Beat egg. Beat in buttermilk and melted butter. Combine dry ingredients and beat into wet ingredients until batter is smooth. Bake on hot, buttered griddle or skillet. Flip when bubbles have formed but before they break.
*If you don’t have buttermilk or milk kefir, you can approximate the flavor and acidic action of these by souring milk. To one cup of sweet milk, add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice. Stir and let stand a few minutes to curdle.
Notice a few differences in techniques between these two recipes. With gluten-free flours, you almost always mix the wet ingredients into the dry. The gluten-free pancakes also need to cook a little longer before you flip them. With wheat flour, it’s nearly always a case of mixing dry ingredients into wet.
If you’ve been eating pancakes made from a commercial mix, I hope you’ll try making buttermilk pancakes from scratch. It really takes only a couple of minutes more to measure out the extra dry ingredients, and the taste and texture of the real thing is worth the tiny bit of extra time.