The more you mix, the tougher your pancakes will be. This is because the gluten in the wheat flour will become overdeveloped and make the pancakes less tender. Mix until the batter is just combined, leaving a few lumps and bumps.
Getting the perfect batter consistency is an art and a science. You want your batter to be neither too thick nor too thin. Thin batter makes thin, flat pancakes (which is okay if you prefer crepe-like pancakes) while thick batter makes tough, doughy pancakes. Aim for a consistency in which batter coats the back of a spoon without running off. To thin batter that is too stiff, stir in milk or water, a tablespoon at a time. To thicken batter, stir in flour a tablespoon at a time. Mixing as little as possible to avoid making your pancakes tough.
To ensure your griddle is at the right temperature, pour a few drops of water on the griddle; if it sizzles, you grill is ready. You can even make a small test pancake first to determine if the griddle temperature is right. The bottom of the pancake should brown at the same time as the air bubbles are being released on the top. If one happens without the other, the griddle is either too hot or not hot enough.
To get well-rounded pancakes, use a ladle with a measured amount of batter. Typically a 1/4-cup to 1/2-cup of batter will give you decent-sized pancakes. Using a ladle to spoon the batter onto the griddle will help you get a nice round shape without the mess you'd get if you pour batter directly from a bowl.
Yes, it's hard to resist, but don't flip your pancakes multiple times or keep peaking underneath to see if they are done. After you pour batter onto the griddle, you can tell if they are finished when the air bubbles begin to pop up on the surface and the edges begin to set. Flip them, gently, one time; the second side will take 1 to 2 more minutes.
Be sure to serve the pancakes hot. If you are making a lot, place cooked pancakes on an oven-proof plate and place in a warm (not hot) oven. Toppings of course can vary from simple butter and maple syrup to a more elaborate presentation with chocolate chips, fresh fruit, whipped cream and nuts.
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