Sometimes a plate of buttermilk pancakes are the most comforting thing in the world: a message of love from the person manning the frying pan to the one sitting at the table waiting to be fed. When my children were little every Saturday was pancake day and I woke them up singing the silly nursery rhyme Great a Little a Today is Pancake Day. Once they went to boarding school they all began to hate pancakes because those were pale, limp, reheated — and who can love those? What a shame!
A plate of pancakes should be golden crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, not too big so that the ratio of outer edge crispy to inside soft can be enjoyed in every bite, teamed up with sautéed fruit (pears, apples or peaches) and crispy thick bacon, served with warm excellent maple syrup to drizzle on top. It’s the perfect weekend breakfast, and even the best hotels in the world cannot make pancakes to match yours at home. Why? Because first, pancakes must be served the minute they are ready.
The trick to making fantastic pancakes is to melt lots of butter over medium or medium high heat (depending on the thickness, thicker pancakes use medium heat) until butter is very bubbly, but not yet browned. Drop tablespoons (1-3 per pancake) then leave alone until small bubbles cover the entire top and you can see the edges start to crisp. That’s the time to flip them over and leave for a minute or so. Plate immediately. Do not wait! Either give one or two to each waiting person at the kitchen table, or else a stack to one person while the others gaze impatiently and sip their coffee and juice in anticipation. Pancakes are a kitchen meal, not dining room food, because they need to go from pan to plate to stomach as fast as possible, giving maximum pleasure to the taste neurons.
The butter and bacon have to be of the best possible quality. Don’t do this on the cheap; you’ll only be saving a couple of bucks and let me tell you the taste difference is huge, from an OMG reaction to no comment at all. Add freshly squeezed OJ, and really delicious coffee or tea.
Do not buy low fat buttermilk either. Forget about that junk. Choose the whole milk buttermilk or even one with extra butter if you can find it. For goodness sake, we are talking four to six pancakes for one special breakfast. Hardly enough dairy or flour to upset anyone! My favorite houseguest years ago ate over 20 in one sitting. I loved that kid. And then there was Shannon the Marine, who loved the pancakes with sautéed pears. He told my son when he was in Afghanistan that he used to dream of those pancakes I made him especially when he missed America. Isn’t that what it’s all about?