I’ve finally achieved one of my Lesser Kitchen Goals: to be the sort of person who always has buttermilk around. Other goals of this order include making a habit out of measuring out cooked grains before freezing them, and cleaning the shelves of my refrigerator more than once per year. You’ll be pleased or disappointed to hear that both of those examples remain unachieved.
Thanks to an unfailing devotion to saag paneer, addictive herby ranch dressing, and a secret about pie crust that I’ll be sharing one of these days – in addition to buttermilk’s forgivingly long life in the fridge – it never makes sense not to have it.
Rewind to about 6 months ago. Baby Jack was still in utero, still steering me toward things I had not frequently eaten in the past. The main symptom: sweet things for breakfast. Danny and I were casting about for breakfast ideas, and I had a sudden vision: I needed McDonald’s pancakes.
20 minutes and a lap around the drive-thru later, we were home with our treasures. Though the pancakes weren’t bad (the syrup was a different story), I vowed that that in the name of my dignity, I really needed to get on the stick with an easy, classic buttermilk pancake recipe.
After a few go-rounds over the course of the last few months, I’m happy to share the recipe for the official Olson Saturday Pancakes. Fluffy but hearty, and only slightly sweet, these are unbelievably easy to throw together on a whim. They use kind of a lot of baking soda for lift, eschewing the whole nonsense about separating and whipping your eggs on a Saturday morning. (The horror.) And they use a whole cup of buttermilk, so more often than not, making these pancakes provides me with the very satisfying opportunity to finish up the quart.
A couple of notes: I’ve made this with and without the melted butter, and though there isn’t a world of difference, I do like the texture the cooked pancakes have when they contain butter. I find they fry up a little nicer and the flavor is a bit more special. (Which is sort of key in our house, since – outside of pregnancy, apparently – we’re not so much about sweet breakfast, so pancakes are a treat.) And speaking of frying, you will find vast differences in the finished product, I think, depending on what fat you use for the pan. Butter creates a more luxurious flavor, of course; a teaspoon or so of canola or vegetable oil will give you some crisp edges; spray oil (which I have absolutely used on a few of the more hurried occasions) does a fine job but doesn’t necessarily add any nice features like the other options. I haven’t tried it, but I imagine coconut oil could add a really lovely dimension too. Up to you!
- 1 cup buttermilk, well-shaken
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1 1/4 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Butter, canola or vegetable oil, or spray oil – for cooking
Whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and butter in a medium-sized bowl. Add the flour and sugar, then sprinkle the baking soda and salt relatively evenly over the top (this helps when making this as a one-bowl gig, which I always appreciate). Stir until all of the ingredients are combined – no need to overmix, though.
Heat a cast-iron or nonstick pan over medium-high heat, and lube it up with your cooking fat of choice. Spoon in the batter in whatever size you like most – ours tend to be roughly the size of drink coasters. Watch for bubbles in the batter, then flip. Cook until golden on both sides – or whatever doneness you prefer!
Pure maple syrup is the preferred condiment around here, but feel free to jazz it up with freshly whipped cream (add cinnamon and vanilla extract for extra points), fresh fruit, or jam. And butter. Always butter.