Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Best Blueberry Pancakes



Last week Jason came home and announced, “Someone sent me a free food magazine today. It looks pretty good. I’m leaving it on the dining table.” I took a glance in that direction and saw a thin booklet with a not-so-attractive cover. Those of you who know me will know that I’m a very visual person, especially when it comes to recipe books and food magazines. If my attention is not grabbed within the first 1/20 of a second, I generally won’t give it a second chance. So the magazine sits in a corner on the table for a couple of days, until Jason hogged the computer again one night and the TV wasn’t showing anything interesting. Bored, I reached for the magazine.

Oh boy, the entire magazine (all 32 pages) was printed in black and white on non-glossy paper! Don’t they know I need to see what the food looks like in full color? Ready to toss it into the recycle stack however, my eyes caught a glimpse of color. Alas, on the inside cover were ten little squares of colored photos. Hmmmm, some visuals after all! One image that stood out was a stack of blueberry pancakes, so fluffy and drenched in maple syrup. Having just bought a pint of blueberries, I was naturally on the lookout for recipes. So I flipped to the page titled “Better Blueberry Pancakes” written by Bridget Lancaster. Instead of a mere recipe, I got the entire rundown on the how’s and why’s of what makes a pancake taste good. Bridget was methodic in her quest for the best recipe and I felt like I was right beside her learning through her trials and errors. By the time I finished reading the article, I had my heart set on the pancakes, and a subscription to the magazine.

The next morning, I followed Bridget’s advice and made the best batch of pancakes I’d ever tasted in my life. Even Jason the pancake-hater voluntarily split the extra one with me instead of pretending he was really full and could not possibly eat another bite. But wait for the best part: I think I might have converted him into a pancake-lover!

So what set these pancakes apart? I feel that aside from the recipe, technique also played an important role. In the back of my mind I’ve always known you’re not supposed to over-mix batter, but I’m sure you all know how annoying it is to see streaks and lumps, especially for a control freak like me. But this time, not only did I resist the urge to extinguish the dry lumps and uneven streaks, I made sure I used the largest whisk and instead of mixing, I scooped up the batter in a big circular motion and tapped the whisk on the side of the bowl to drop the batter back into the bowl. This was repeated while turning the bowl 90 degrees each time until the batter is almost homogenous, but not quite. I feel that this is the best way to ensure the batter is handled minimally to help the pancakes to achieve maximum fluffiness.

Another unusual thing about this recipe is that instead of mixing the blueberries into the batter, they are sprinkled onto the pancake while it’s cooking in the pan. You get golden pancakes dotted with intact berries this way instead of something bluish gray and unappetizing. However, one thing I’ll do differently next time is to cut down the amount of milk. I’ve always noticed that flour in Japan has a higher water content. When using western recipes to make bread, I always have to cut down water by about a quarter. I forgot about it this time and as a result, my batter was a tad too thin and my pancakes weren’t as thick as I would’ve liked them to be. Imagine how much more perfect they’d be if they had thickness too!

So here’s the recipe and I hope you find them as good as I did.

1 tbsp juice from 1 lemon
2 cups milk
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 large egg
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1-2 tsp vegetable oil
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, preferably wild, rinsed and dried

1. whisk lemon juice and milk and set aside to thicken
2. whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl to combine (I also sifted the flour with baking soda and powder twice before mixing with the rest of the ingredients)
3. whisk egg and melted butter into milk until combined. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and pour in milk mixture. Whisk very gently until just cocmbined. Do NOT overmix
4. heat nonstick skillet over medium heat, add 1 tsp oil and brush to coat skillet bottom evenly. Pour ¼ cup batter on skillet, sprinkle 1 tbsp blueberries over batter. Cook until large bubbles begin to appear, flip and cook until golden brown on second side.
5. Serve immediately with maple syrup.

23 comments:

Hsin said...

Wow... the pancakes sound amazing. Although I have to admit while I like pancakes, I'm no expert - I like 'em all. Would you be so kind as to make them the next time we meet?

And re the spam comment above. Looks like you need to institute the security thingy too...

Lynn said...

I know, damn these spammers. And that little trash can disappeared again!! Why is it that every time I need to delete a spam message the trash can disappears?

Ok, so we have General Tso's chicken and pancakes. Hmmm, how do you think we should make them go?

joey said...

Nice looking pancakes! I can never seem to get my pancakes right...I have already collected a bunch of recipes from other bloggers, will add this as well and have a pancake try-a-thalon for a week! Thanks for sharing your recipe :)

Michelle B said...

Don't leave out something important! What magazine was it?

Lynn said...

joey, wow! a pancake try-a-tholon! Make sure you line up plenty of tasters!

Michelle, oops, did I forget to mention the magazine? It's Cook's Illustrated.

Rachel said...

Hey, maybe we can have our own pancake cook-off! My pancake recipe against Cook's Illlustrated--whoah, guess who's so going to win!

Hsin said...

I'm all for a pancake cook-off, as long as my role is to clean off the plates as fast as I can.

Lynn said...

yeah, Rach, I remember you raving about your pancake recipe. Let's do it.

And Hsin, you can be the plate cleaner, with soap and sponge!

Anonymous said...

Cooks Illustrated is the best bar none. Reliable and excellent recipes always. I guessed it was a CI recipe just by the name. I'd take a single magazine of theirs over a stack of pretentious cookbooks filled with glossy pictures any day. Have a look at their cookbooks and their online library.

Michelle B said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Michelle B said...

I like Cooks Illustrated, it is great reading.

I grew up being fed pancakes made from Bisquik mix. I am stigmatized for life, nothing else tastes right or is the right texture :). Especially if there is sugar in the recipe. No sweet pancakes for me! The only from scratch pancakes I've ever loved are the ones my grandmother used to make that were almost like a crepe, very thin and not fluffy and cooked so the edges were a little crispy. I wish I knoew how to make them. She just threw things in the bowl without measuring and I never figured it out.

Lady Lavender of the Kitchen said...

Hi Lynn :)

I saw a similar picture on the cover of Saveur's latest issue talking about Maine Blueberries!

mmmm.. blueberries.. I wonder if they'll have some at tomorrow's market. Pancakes sound wonderful!

Chubby Hubby said...

What a gorgeous photo. And what a cool blog. I guess I'm a late arrival to the party of here. Consider me a new fan. Cheers.

zacky said...

Hi Lynn,
I've been reading a lot of your past entries- I'm a cooking-freak myself :P and I just love the pictures you take of the food you cook. It's simply gorgeous!

Anyway, I was however wondering that for the pancake recipe, was the lemonjuice+milk a substitute for buttermilk? Because that's what I usually do whenever I'm trying a recipe that calls for buttermilk.

Will give that recipe of yours a try. and I just love berries! yummyummm..

Lynn said...

Zacky, yes, it's exactly as you said, sub for buttermilk. The recipe is designed so that you can whip it up with what you have in the fridge. Honestly, who keeps buttermilk in the fridge as a regular item, right? ;o)

Jen said...

Thanks for posting this! I just found the recipe in the free copy of Cook's that my mom got in the mail and I'm glad that I don't have to type it out! They look delicious!!

Anonymous said...

This recipe turned out superb! We did some vegan subbing, but no harm seems to have come of it. We also made fresh blueberry syrup with this recipe:

http://homecooking.about.com/library/archive/blbreak6.htm

Kudos

Jessica Rae Writes said...

I'm happy to have found this, I want to make pancakes tonight!! I always wondered if there was any truth to the 'first pancake' myth - that the first is always bad and a trial. I know it's supposed to let you know if the pan is hot enough, but I don't buy it! Then again...I'm a horrible cook. :D Shhh.

Around the World in 90 Pancakes said...

I'm going to try this recipe for dinner! We love breakfast for dinner this time of year.

I like the idea of dropping the blueberries on top as the pancakes cook. LOVE the picture too - it's torture!

Zack said...

loved this recipe

Alex F. said...

Awesome recipe. I followed your advice and took about 1/3 cup of milk out of it, and they turned out thick and fluffy as predicted.

Thank you!

kerstyn k. said...

mmmmm. the pancakes we delish. just made them for breakfast. my whole family loved them!

Anonymous said...

Found this recipe by searching for the best blueberry pancakes. I had a pint of blueberries to use up--just have to say that these were the easiest pancakes ever!

Normally I have trouble getting pancakes flipped--no problem here.

Made 25 total--I did part of them with chocolate chips because I was a little too generous with the blueberries. :-)