05 October 2010

The perfect pancake

I have a love-hate relationship with pancakes (which I, by the way, called "hotcakes" until I got to college and began losing my Alaskan-with-Southern/Midwestern-origins dialect; I still say "fair to middlin'" and "Down South" when I mean "Seattle," though).


I grew up on a hybrid pancake mix, which involved blending Bisquick, a Belgian waffle mix, and a honey-oat waffle mix into one giant plastic container. Nearly every Saturday, I would get up and expertly blend the mixture with just the right proportions of egg and milk, then heave our big electric griddle from the pantry to the kitchen counter. If I had a friend over, we would invariably take some batter aside and add a horrid mixture of food coloring to make maroon, teal, or chartreuse pancakes.

The pancakes themselves were thin but relatively flavorful. Since those days, however, I have abandoned not only wildly-colored pancakes but also pre-purchased mixes, preferring for years to jump from one recipe to another every six or eight months, tweaking an amount here, replacing an ingredient there. My standby has been the buttermilk pancake recipe from what we always called "The Stone-Buhr Cookbook," a beloved baking cookbook that my mom received by mail for a few UPC codes and about $2.25 back in the seventies.

griddle cakes

It's a fantastic cookbook, with many of my family favorites: chocolate-banana bars, cornbread, blueberry muffins. Like any good family cookbook, its pages are filled with scribblings from various family members, with many a GOOD written in bold black Sharpie. Dozens more recipes have never been tried and are waiting for me to find them when I'm in the mood for something new.

I love breakfast, but I'm more likely to eat cereal, toast, or maybe a fried egg sandwich than make pancakes on the average morning, so we usually enjoy our pancakes and waffles at dinnertime. Breakfast for dinner was a much-loved meal in my childhood home—and pancakes with jam or syrup are like dinner and dessert all wrapped up in one!

oaty pancakes

I originally planned to make this recipe, but just like every other time I've intended to make it, I forgot that the batter has to sit overnight. Instead of settling with a basic buttermilk pancake, I decided to play around with it. The resulting pancakes were an advertisement for adapting recipes—thick, flavorful, and just oaty enough.

Half-Oatmeal Pancakes
Adapted heavily from Cooking with Gourmet Grains (aka "The Stone-Buhr Cookbook")
Note: As of February 2011, we have started referring to these as "wheaty oaty pancakes"—I replace ½ to 1 cup of the unbleached flour with wheat flour, and I like them even better that way.
Note (April 2012): I have added weights in for those who may prefer using a scale. I do still dirty a ½ cup measure for scooping the batter onto the griddle, though. Also, if you don't have oat flour, just increasing the amount of oats to 3.5 ounces/1 cup works fine.

6 ounces (about 1 ½ cups) unbleached flour, or 4 ounces/1 cup flour and 2.5 ounces/½ cup wheat flour
1.75 ounces (about ½ cup) oat flour
1.75 ounces (about ½ cup) rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons raw sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons mild oil
butter for cooking

Heat a griddle or a couple heavy skillets on medium to medium-high heat. If you would like to cook all of the pancakes before eating, set your oven to warm (about 200ºF) with a baking sheet on the top rack.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Beat the eggs well and add to the dry mixture with the buttermilk and oil, stirring just to combine; batter will be lumpy.

When the griddle/pans are hot, drop a small knob of butter to melt. Pour the batter by half-cupfuls; do not spread out. Let cook until the edges are beginning to firm and the bottom is golden brown, three to four minutes. Carefully flip and cook until golden brown and cooked through, another two to four minutes.

Transfer cooked pancakes to the warmed baking sheet, overlapping each slightly.

Makes about eight 6-inch pancakes


  1. I was just reading through my copy of the Stone-Buhr cookbook (looking for a dessert I could justify as healthy whole grain) last weekend and we laughed about the very back where you can purchase another copy using your "master charge" or your "bankamericard". This is also my fave pancake recipe, so I can't wait to try yours. The best one in the book remains "One a Day Banana Bars, though.

  2. Did you notice that the deal to purchase another copy expired on 12/31/1982? We had a good laugh about that one.

    I haven't made Banana Bars in ages - I've gotten so addicted to banana bread that I rarely do anything else with overripe bananas.