What if I told you I’d got a recipe for the floofiest pancakes you’re every likely to make, AND that the secret behind them is cheaty, home-made buttermilk, AND that you can make them all in advance, keep them warm in the oven and they don’t even sink a teeny, tiny bit? I know, right? Feeling pretty smug right now. So, quick sciencey bit: buttermilk is more acidic than normal milk (it’s also thicker, making your batter less runny) so using buttermilk in your pancakes (and indeed scones or whatever) means that there’s more acid to react with the baking soda, therefore making more bubbles and making the pancakes lighter and fluffier. See? It’s not magic, it’s science. But I never remember to buy buttermilk, so I use the next best thing: normal milk soured with lemon juice and left at room temperature for a couple of minutes. It works in exactly the same way and will give you the perfect, fluffy pancakes. Want the recipe? Read on!
The perfect, fluffy pancakes for Pancake Day (or any other day actually)
1 lemon, juiced
Pinch of salt
250g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
So firstly, make your cheaty home-made buttermilk: just measure out the milk, then squeeze in the juice of a lemon and add a teeny pinch of salt, give it a stir and set it aside at room temperature while you assemble the rest of the ingredients. You’ll see that it soon starts to go all thick and yoghurty in texture.
Preheat your oven just to a low setting, about 150 degrees C, gas 2. Pop in a baking tray covered with a sheet of baking paper.
Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl and set aside. Then gently melt the butter in a small saucepan.
In a large jug, or a bowl with a pouring lip, whisk the caster sugar, eggs and vanilla together, then add 4 tbsp of the melted butter (use the rest for brushing the frying pan between batches of pancakes), then whisk in the soured milk.
Now, gently start to pour this mixture into the flour, stirring all the time. You probably won’t need to use all of it – just use enough to give you a really thick batter.
Now, just brush your frying pan with melted butter and spoon in a large spoonful (I use a serving spoon) of batter. I can squeeze about three at a time into my big frying pan. Watch for the bubbles to start appearing on the surface, then turn them over. When the pancakes are puffed up and both sides are golden brown, scoop them up and put them in the oven on the baking tray. Repeat until you’ve used all the batter.
Now, just stack ’em up high, cover in honey or syrup or banana or chocolate spread, or lemon juice and sugar, or anything else you fancy (if you’re weird like my family, it’s bacon and maple syrup). This is a great recipe to add fruit to as it’s thick enough to hold the pieces really well, so try blueberries or chopped strawberries, or even tiny pieces of chopped apple and a teaspoon of cinnamon.
Et voila! The perfect, fluffy pancakes. Happy Pancake Day, fellow scientists.