Published July 1, 2009.
We found the secret to buttermilk pancakes that cook up fluffy from batch to batch.
Too often buttermilk pancakes lack true tang, and they rarely achieve the light and fluffy texture we desire.
We wanted true buttermilk pancakes that boast a slightly crisp, golden crust surrounding a fluffy, tender center that has just enough structure to withstand a good dousing of maple syrup.
Pancake-making is fickle work. Changing any one of the essential ingredients sets off a chain reaction that affects the others, with dramatic consequences for the final flapjack. Since we wanted a tangy flavor and fluffy texture, we figured swapping out some of the regular milk for more buttermilk and cutting back on baking soda would do the trick. Wrong. After ending up with pancakes that were either thick and cottony or dense and gummy, we began making adjustments.
Our first breakthrough came from the addition of an uncommon ingredient: sour cream. Since sour cream is cultured with the same bacteria as buttermilk, it has many of the same flavor compounds but in much higher concentration, yielding more acid per cup. It didn’t take much to give our pancakes the rich tang we were after. And it didn’t dilute the batter. While sour cream gave us the flavor we sought, the pancakes still had a leavening problem, specifically an extremely wet, gummy crumb. To combat this, we knew that our hyperactive leaveners, baking soda and baking powder, had to be cut down. Our pancakes were overinflating when they first cooked, then collapsed liked popped balloons, becoming dense and wet on the plate. We reduced both, which produced pancakes that were light, fluffy, and full of their trademark tang.list of recipes