Big, Fluffy Pancakes For a Crowd

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Good morning! Nothing says awesome more than pancakes for breakfast on a lazy, Sunday morning. We’ve been making these for years on everyday mornings year-round and there never seems to be enough. I’ve doubled, tripled and quadrupled recipes to finally come up with this one; it’s just the right amount of thickness, fluffiness and sweetness. They’re also loaded with flavor because of the Vanilla Extract we make at home, though any good-quality brand makes all the difference between an okay and an oh yeah pancake breakfast.

These are so easy, we even make them for breakfast during the school year. A tradition that we started years back—having a pancake breakfast on the first and last days of school—continues today. In that case, we prep the wet and dry ingredients separately the night before, so all that needs to be done in the morning is melt the butter and mix everything together. It beats trying to mix ingredients when your eyelids are a little droopy.

Technique is everything for a great pancake. Anyone who makes pancakes knows two cardinal rules: add dry ingredients to wet; mix the batter with a fork just until the dry ingredients are moistened. By chance, I happened to discover another secret a few years ago that turns out the fluffiest pancakes known to mankind. Miss Therrien, my Home Economics teacher in Junior High School, told us that once we added baking powder to dry ingredients, it starts the chemical process and—because this process is short-lived—it must be cooked immediately. This instilled a preternatural fear of getting any mixture or batter into or onto a hot environment at once, avoiding the dreaded outcome that a scone or cake or pancake would deflate. A few years back, I was making brunch for friends and mixed the batter just before everyone arrived. By the time everyone had arrived and I was ready to fire up the griddle, the pancake batter had sat on the counter for nearly an hour. I resigned myself to the fact that a dozen people would be eating deliciously flat pancakes, as there wasn’t time to mix up another batch. What came out were the most perfectly-shaped, thick-as-a-sponge, golden brown pancakes I had ever made.

After the brunch was over and on subsequent mornings making pancakes, I discovered that allowing the batter to sit for between 30-60 minutes allows the wet ingredients to be fully absorbed into the baking powder and flour. You can see this counter-top science project right before your eyes: just after mixing, the batter is still somewhat milky. A full 60 minutes later, increased in volume with all the molecules expanding, results in a silky, uniform batter.

Yes, these are the big, fluffy kind made to serve a crowd, not the thinner version you get at your local breakfast place, which are usually overmixed (rubberiness is what gives this away) or thinned out with milk. Precisely because of their thickness, they are the perfect host for chocolate chips (a family favorite and Massachusetts original) and blueberries. Maple syrup disappears seemingly without a trace, so consider serving syrup in small bowls; dip each forkful so you’ll get the taste of the maple syrup in every bite.

Big, Fluffy Pancakes For a Crowd

makes 20 large pancakes, enough to serve 6-8 for breakfast or 12 for brunch

In a large bowl, combine:
3 c. flour
2 T. baking powder
6 T. granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt

In a large glass measure with a spout, mix together:
3 eggs
600 ml/20 oz. whole milk
6 T/ 3 oz. melted butter
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to low. Add the first mixture to the wet ingredients and lightly combine with a fork. Let stand 30-60 minutes. Once your griddle is heated to medium, mist the surface with a little oil and pour the batter onto griddle. Add berries or chocolate chips, if desired; about 5 per pancake. Once they start to bubble, flip over. Remove to a platter and place in warm oven until all the pancakes are cooked. Serve immediately.

Tips for success:
•Be careful not to overmix the batter.
•Do not use butter on the cooking surface, it burns quickly and will impart a bitter flavor on the pancakes. Season the surface for the first pancakes after which there will be no need to introduce any more cooking oil.

LUXURY TOUCHES:
•Instead of maple syrup, dilute some fresh marmalade with some orange juice and heat until just warm.
•If using artificially-flavored maple syrup, heat the syrup with a little orange juice.
•Add chocolate chips, blueberries, raspberries immediately after the batter is poured on the griddle. Experiment with different fruit/chocolate combinations for variety. Chocolate chip/raspberry is wicked good.

Have you made these? Comment below to share your thoughts with other readers of the Cerines community. People want to hear about your unique perspective!