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I’ve been having a buttermilk week. It started off with these pancakes, proceeded to simply exquisite fried chicken marinated overnight in buttermilk; via salad dressing with lots of dill and garlic and finishing with buttermilk island cake.
Buttermilk is awesome stuff. I remember my father used to like it, straight up like other people ate yoghurt and I thought he was being weird but modern day kefir and kombucha - drinking hipsters would applaud. It is a by-product of churning butter, or rather still IS in parts of Normandy that produce beurre de baratte, the 20+ euro per kilo hand-churned beauty. Elsewhere, what we buy from supermarkets is produced industrially, like all everyday dairy.
Buttermilk is quite acidic and full of those cherished good bacteria cultures – basically, it’s the milk that has gone a little off. Which is always a good thing, within reasonable timing: aged beef, hung game, sauerkraut and wine. The acidic side of buttermilk is especially useful in pastry, batters and dough: throw a little bicarb of soda at buttermilk and whoosh?! off it goes, rising sky-high with bubbles, lifting the cakes, biscuits and scones to fluffy peaks.
And so it does in these pancakes; exactly as smitten kitchen promised – or Frances Farmer whose griddle cakes these really are, according to Deb, who I trust (you cannot NOT trust the original food blogger). These, I must admit, were my first go at the classic American-style pancakes; so far I’d only crepe-d and galetted, European fashion. The handful of blueberries is optional, but nice. And most importantly: they go well with bacon.
buttermilk pancakesServings: 8 pancakesTime: 20 minutes
- 20g (2 tbsp.) unsalted butter, more for frying
- 20g (2 tbsp.) caster sugar
- 1 large egg
- 160g (½ heaping cup) buttermilk
- a pinch of fine sea salt
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 130g (1 cup) plain flour
- a handful of fresh or frozen blueberries
- crisp bacon rashers and maple syrup, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 110C/225F/gas ¼ with a large baking tray on a lower rack. Preheat a large frying pan or a flat griddle over medium heat.
2. Melt the 20g of butter in a large bowl (in a microwave: medium power, 20 seconds; or melt it in a saucepan and pour into a bowl). Whisk in the sugar, then the egg, making sure the mix isn’t too hot by then. Whisk in the buttermilk, the salt and bicarb of soda, then stir in the flour until just combined. Stir in the blueberries, if using.
3. Melt a knob of butter in the preheated pan and drop tablespoons of batter into it. Adjust the heat so the pancakes don’t sizzle too much and cook for about 3 minutes until bubbles appear on top of the batter and the underside is golden and crisp. Flip each pancake with a spatula and cook on the other side for another 2-3 minutes.
4. Transfer to the baking tray in the oven to finish off; the sides might still be a little raw. Continue with the second batch.
5. To serve, stack two and top with bacon rashers and a drizzle of maple syrup.