Start the weekend right!

Buttermilk pancakes

It was my wife’s birthday just recently and I wanted to get her day started off right with a tasty breakfast. Normally she likes a bowl of oatmeal loaded with fruit, nuts, turo, etc.; honestly, it’s a complete mess but if it gets her going in the morning, they why not? While I may like a nice simple bowl of oatmeal myself, for a birthday breakfast I don’t think so . . . it’s got to be a fluffy stack of blueberry pancakes with a healthy drizzle of real maple syrup, topped with a runny fried egg.

For a longer time than I really care to admit, when out of Hungary I would bring back boxes of Aunt Jemima’s Buttermilk Pancake mix because I didn’t think I could make them from scratch here. I never really cared for the “put a little vinegar into a cup of milk” substitution for buttermilk, and to this day I still don’t know why I never tried making them with kefir, but didn’t.

I just gave up on buttermilk pancakes until about six months ago after following conversation on Facebook’s Hungary Expats page. People were asking where buttermilk could be found in the city, and it turns out you can . . . it’s called Író. While it can’t be found everywhere, you can buy it in most of the foreign chain stores, such as Tesco, Auchan, Aldi and Lidl. Proper pancakes, and buttermilk biscuits as well, are now back in our regular weekend breakfast rotation.

Here’s my recipe for some light and fluffy buttermilk pancakes.

Ingredients (makes about ten 10cm pancakes)

  • 2 cups flour (220g)
  • 3 tbsp sugar (sugar helps give the nice golden color when cooking)
  • 1 tsp baking powder (sütőpor)
  • ½ tsp baking soda (szódabikarbóna)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (250ml) buttermilk (Író) or drinking kefir
  • 30 g melted butter

Optional

  • 1 tsp cinnamon (added to the dry ingredients)
  • Fresh blueberries (added to the batter after it is put down in the pan)

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  • In another bowl beat eggs then whisk in buttermilk and melted butter. Mix with flour mixture until just combined (lumps are OK). Batter should not be too thin so if runny add a bit more flour. Let sit for at least 15 minutes
  • Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Splash with sunflower oil or butter then pour batter into rounds (add blueberries if you would like to the batter once it’s in the pan). When they’ve firmed up (3 minutes) and bubbles start to show on the top, flip and cook another 2-3 minutes until golden brown. A slight poke should feel somewhat firm to the touch.
  • Remove from heat, butter, and serve with real maple syrup. I also strongly suggest eating with runny (yolk, not white…yuck) fried eggs on top.

Did you know?

  • Archaeological evidence suggests that pancakes were probably the earliest and most widespread cereal food eaten in prehistoric societies.
  • The baking powder reacts with itself, being made up of bicarbonate and a weak acid to make carbon dioxide once mixed with a liquid which allows the two sides to react, creating some lift by producing gas in the batter. It is the addition of the baking soda (another bicarbonate) reacting with the acids found in the buttermilk that even more carbon dioxited to make the pancakes really fluffy and light. This would not happen if milk , instead of buttermilk, was used as there is little acid present in milk.
  • Want to test your baking soda and powder to see if they are fresh? Add a drop of vinegar to some baking soda, and if it foams it’s still good. For the baking powder, a splash of warm water will create similar but less dramatic results. If there is no reaction from either, head to the store for some more because you will not cook fluffy pancakes without them.
  • It was scientifically proven by the World Pancake Association that pancakes are the best way to start a weekend. Of course the BMF (Bloody Mary Foundation) disputes these claims.
  • Some other types of pancakes around the world: Crêpe, Dosa, Palacsinta (which I just learned was derived from the Latin for placenta), блин (Blin), Kaiserschmarrn, clătită, okonomiyaki, Jianbing, and the list goes on and on.