There are very few foods that seem to us more traditionally American than pancakes. This makes it especially ironic that our favorite American pancake recipe comes to us (with some modifications) from a Brit, Nigella Lawson.
A Short History of Pancakes
Although Americans like to claim fluffy pancakes for themselves, pancakes are in fact a global and ancient phenomenon. Otzi the Iceman, whose 5,000 year old remains were found frozen in the Italian Alps, may have eaten a pancake for his last meal. By Roman times, pancakes were commonly made and sold on street corners, just as they are today in may cities. Pancake Breakfasts became a thing as early as 1100 AD. In medieval England, pancakes were cooked to celebrate Shrove Tuesday and use up any leftover dairy before Lent. And so, Americans can’t claim to have invented the traditional pancake. However, we definitely get credit for combining it with maple syrup!
Other than their pairing with maple syrup, American pancakes are best known for their fluffy texture. American cooks add a chemical leavener to enhance the fluffiness. In the 18th century, cooks used snow, which naturally contains ammonia, to leaven their pancakes. Baking powder and baking soda are generally used together now, to ensure a high rise and fluffy texture.
Techniques for the Best Homemade Pancakes
Have questions about how to make perfect pancakes? Fluffy American pancakes are one of those recipes that seem like an easy breakfast but then are so easy for home cooks to flub. Before you get cooking, check out our list of pancake questions and tips.
Best Tools for Making Great Pancakes
There are a variety of pancake preferences in our household, and it’s easy to customize this basic pancake recipe to different palates. Once you’ve set the pancake batter into the pan to start cooking, you can add a handful of fresh blueberries, chopped strawberries, or chocolate chips.
Favorite toppings in our house include a knob of butter, a small pitcher (we’re not kidding) of melted butter, warm maple syrup, and fresh berries, along with a side of crisp fried bacon.
Pancakes, Pancakes, Pancakes!
Looking for some other pancake ideas? Check these guys out! Seeing all these pancake recipes may provoke a burning desire to learn more about proper pancake cooking temperatures and techniques. If so, be sure to stop by our pancake tips post.
American Pancake Recipe
- 1 nonstick skillet
- 2 large eggs
- 2 1/2 tbsp baking powder
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter melted and cooled
- 1 1/3 cup milk you can use regular milk or buttermilk here
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- Separate the eggs, placing the egg yolks in a large bowl and the whites in a separate bowl.
- Add the sugar, melted butter, and milk to the egg yolk and whisk to combine. Sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Stir the milk mixture and the flour mixture to form a smooth batter.
- Let the batter rest for a few minutes while you whip up the egg whites. Letting the batter stand for helps the gluten in the flour relax and reduces the likelihood of a tough pancake.
- Use a clean whisk to beat the egg whites in a small bowl until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the pancake batter.
- Heat a non stick pan over medium heat. You'll know the skillet is hot enough when you flick water into it and it sizzles.
- Once hot, spray your large skillet with non stick cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cup batter into the skillet. You can use either a 1/4 cup ladle or a measuring cup. If you're using a ladle of batter, just ensure you're being consistent with the batter quantity! Cover the skillet and let cook for 2 minutes until the edges of the pancake are set and small bubbles form in the center of the top of the pancake.
- Flip the pancake and let cook for an additional 2 minuts until the second side is golden brown.
- Serve and eat cooked pancakes immediately with the toppings of your choice.
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