Friday, November 16, 2007

Pancakes with a Light Hand

While small in build, I don't think anyone would describe me as "delicate". For starters, I have big hands for a small girl and on top of which, I am often known to be heavy handed... just ask my macarons. Overbeating may as well be my Red Indian name.

What does any of this have to do with pancakes? Indulge me while I explain how elusive light, fluffy pancakes have been for me until now.

I've tried numerous recipes — some using buttermilk, others just plain old flour, milk and eggs... and maybe a pinch of baking soda. After wielding my whisk to these unfortunate batters, I invariably find myself with pancakes that bear more resemblance to unleavened bread or leather pucks. You know the kind — chewy as a kitchen sponge, just like they serve in some backpackers' hostel in a Third World country, studded with aged bananas and drenched with diluted maple syrup.

Then last Sunday morning, I woke up looking for something new to whip up for breakfast. I reached into a book I haven't touched since I bought it two years ago and there it was: Buttermilk Pancakes. I all but gave it a quick glimpse — and luckily I did. Because it said, "Stir BY HAND until the batter is evenly moistened."
By hand! Could it be my hand alone, sans whisk or rubber spatula, could yield a lighter touch? No harm trying...

I am pleased to report that I made pancakes so good that morning, that I roused C from his Sunday sleep-in to have a taste.

Mixing it by hand helped meld all the ingredients together lightly and quickly so the gluten in the flour doesn't have time to stretch and render chewy pancakes. Of course it occured to me to try mixing my macaron batter by hand too — just in case it could help with my overbeating. Um, that didn't work so good.

Oh well, one thing at a time.

On another note, I've received a couple of emails and comments suggesting I add an RSS feed to this blog. Now the only reason why I hadn't done so is because I am a luddite and I had no idea how. Anyways, after 5 hours of trying, I think I've managed (see the bar on the right). If it doesn't work, let me know or better still, leave idiot-proof instructions as to how. Thanks everyone :-)

Buttermilk Pancakes
(adapted from a recipe from The Culinary Institute of America Breakfasts & Brunches)

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups buttermilk
4 eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled

1. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a mixing bowl.
2. Make a well in the centre of this mixture.
3. In another bowl, mix the eggs, buttermilk and melted butter. Pour this mixture into the well and stir by hand until the batter is evenly moistened.
4. You can now use this batter or store it for up to 12 hours in the fridge.