- DO NOT OVERMIX. It’s ok if there are lumps. Let the batter sit for a few minutes to allow the wet ingredients to absorb any flour clumps before cooking. Over mixing will lead to over-development of the gluten proteins in the flour, creating a tight webbing that’ll keep your pancakes from rising and getting tall and fluffy. If you prefer hockey puck pancakes though, by all means, stir away.
- Use clarified butter. Also known as Ghee, clarified butter is simply butter that, once melted, has the fat solids that are most responsible for smoking skimmed off the top. You can make your own by melting butter over low heat, then skimming and discarding the white solids that float off the top with a metal spoon. This butter is now not only shelf stable, but allows you to cook batch after batch of pancakes without tripping the fire alarms (which, on Saturday mornings, is no friend of yours, no matter how many apology pancakes you send over to the neighbors).
- Bake with Buttermilk. Buttermilk is cultured milk and its acidity not only acts to tenderize your breakfast beauties, but gives them a unique depth of flavor. Don’t have any buttermilk and need it ASAP? Add 1 tsp of white or apple cider vinegar or 2 tsps fresh lemon juice to the amount of milk your recipe calls for. If you have a couple of days and a nearly empty carton of buttermilk, simply mix the remaining buttermilk with whole milk, shake it, leave it on the counter for a few hours to allow the cultures to begin working their magic and return to the fridge (this homemade buttermilk, by the way, is far more luxurious than the low-fat store-bought variety).
- Whip it good. Do you like your pancakes super light and sky-high? Beat two egg whites into a meringue with barely stiff peaks and fold this into your batter. You’ll want to use the pancake batter within a half an hour in order to keep the egg whites from deflating.
- Check the date on your baking powder. A good rule of thumb is to replace your baking powder every six months. Baking powder is made up of baking soda and an acidic agent that, when exposed to moisture, activates to make your pancakes, cookies and cupcakes rise. Leave it out too long and the humidity in your kitchen will begin to wear down its power. Also, do everyone a favor and get an 89 cent box of baking soda for baking instead of pulling from the box that’s deodorizing your refrigerator. No one wants hints of shrimp scampi aroma in their pancakes.
- Don’t pour hot butter over eggs. Nearly all pancake and waffle recipes ask you to pour the melted butter over the nearly-finished batter. Reason? Pouring hot butter over eggs will cook them.
- Flip ‘em right. Pancakes should be nearly done before flipping- wait until you see bubbles forming and popping before flipping them to brown on the flipped side.
- Play with your flours! Grab a couple of specialty flours next time you’re at the market and tool around with things like Spelt and a White Whole Wheat. Pancakes are an easy way to learn how different flours behave (without waiting for hours for cakes to bake and cool).
- Test out your skills with our Classic Buttermilk Pancake or Whole Wheat Pancake recipes.
Cherry Rhubarb Preserves
Making a nice, thick, set jam from two low-pectin fruit that burn quickly can be challenging, but I’ve found that macerating the fruits together with lemon juice and sugar the day before cooking them works well. This recipe was designed for a large, 18″ jam pot. If you are working with a pot closer to 10″ round, cut the recipe in half. See our Canning 101 guide for more information about sterilizing and water bath canning.
Cherry Rhubarb Preserves
|1-1/2 lbs.||680g||Rhubarb stems|
|1/2 cup||112g||Lemon juice|
- Pit the cherries and place them in a large, non-reactive pot. Cover these with sugar and lemon juice while you turn your attention to the rhubarb.
- Trim the rhubarb, cutting the long stems lengthwise first, then into 3" long pieces. Toss these with the cherries and stir to coat. Let everything macerate overnight in the fridge (or out unless it's really hot in your kitchen).
- Turn the heat on high and stir occasionally until the mixture comes to a boil. Turn the heat down slightly, stirring occasionally while the jam simmers for about 20 minutes. As the mixture thickens, stir more frequently, turning the heat down if you feel any sort of sticking at the bottom of the pot.
- Continue stirring until the jam sets. I test this with a metal spoon by dipping the spoon into the jam and turning it facing down to see how slowly the jam drips off the spoon. You are looking for a jam that no longer drips, but has a heavy, pregnant pause before it falls off the spoon.
- Turn the heat off as soon as you get to this gel stage. Follow our canning guide procedures if you wish to store this in the pantry. Otherwise, I dare you to try not to eat it all out of the fridge within a week.