One of the few childhood memories I have of my granddaddy was his legendary pancakes on Sunday morning. He was the pancake man, my grandmother was the butter lady, and my cousin Jordan and I would fight over who got to be syrup boy when I would visit East Texas.
When I got to be about 10, I remember he let me help; a monumental accomplishment for a 10 year old. For what ever reason, I meticulously remember every detail about how he made these pancakes… Not necessarily the recipe, but all of the tricks on how to make the perfect pancakes. Yet 20 years later, I hadn’t ever made them without him since.
At our missional community, we were doing breakfast for dinner and I volunteered to make the pancakes; partially because the ingredients are pretty cheap when making them from scratch, but also because I was secretly hoping to recruit my pastor’s 10 yr old son (Bryson) to help so that I could teach him the way my grandfather taught me. Although a little hesitant at first, he agreed to help, and by the end of it, he was foregoing both watching football and playing with the other kids so he could cook and help serve others. Pretty proud of this kid.
Chef Bryson’s World Famous Buttermilk Pancakes (from scratch!)
Time: 30 minutes-ish
Feeds: A small army (12 people or so, roughly 2 pancakes each)
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons white sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups butter milk
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
In a large bowl, combine all of the dry, powdered ingredients first, sifting the flour, baking powder, and baking soda together to prevent clumping (sifting optional).
In a second large bowl, add the wet ingredients (although let the butter cool for a moment before adding it to the mix).
Pre-heat your griddle (we used 300-350).
Slowly mix the dry ingredients in to the wet ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon*, breaking up any chunks while gently stirring. As the batter thickens, do not over stir, but rather attempt a folding motion to finish mixing. This will help keep the pancakes fluffy.
Flick a bit of water on to the surface of the griddle, and if it sizzles, it’s ready.
Scoop the batter on the griddle with the wooden spoon and gently break up any clumps that you may see in the batter as it spreads on the griddle. Make good use of the griddle surface space, however do not over pack it, as it may get difficult to flip the pancakes if they are too close together. Note that the batter will continue to spread out slightly after you put it on the griddle.
Watch for bubbles to form on the top of the pancakes (on the batter side). This generally denotes that they are ready to flip! Peek under the corner and flip if ready. This is more of an art than a science being that different sizes of pancakes and their position on the griddle can impact how quickly they cook, so there’s a little bit of finesse involved.
When both sides have perfectly browned, serve to the salivating hordes of onlookers.
*When people asked my grandfather his secret to hot cakes, he would sarcastically tell them “Okay, are you ready? Write this down, so you don’t forget. First off, and this is important, I use a metal bowl. Then, (are you writing this down?), I use a wooden spoon to mix it”. Although logically these things make no difference, I still attempt to adhere to this when able.
One of the older gentlemen of our missional community was ease dropping on the pancake tutorial while making his egg casserole and commented, “I should be taking notes. I don’t think I’ve heard most of those tips since boy scouts.” Perhaps these pancake tips originated in the boyscouts, perhaps they are universal pancake truths, or perhaps my granddaddy pioneered pancake technology that has been passed down through word-of-mouth tradition.
Whatever the case may be, the end product is fluffy, picturesque, and delicious buttermilk hot cakes from scratch. I wish I had more pictures of the finished product to share, however they moved too quickly.