Is there anything better than a tall stack of light, fluffy pancakes smothered in butter and maple syrup? No. The problem is, Grandma made whipping up a batch of flapjacks appear effortless, and we’ve learned the hard way that producing non-gummy pancakes isn’t as easy as it looks.
It may be hard, but it can be done. Just follow these six simple steps, and your friends are going to be begging you to host brunch every weekend.
Step 1: Measure carefully
Odds are, a dense pancake is caused by the dry-to-wet ratio being off. With too much flour, your pancake will never stand a chance! Sifting your flour first will help keep it from becoming too packed in the measuring cup. If that doesn’t work, try replacing half a cup of all-purpose flour with half a cup of cake flour. The two differ in protein content, and the lighter cake flour can make a huge difference.
Step 2: Whip it — whip it good!
Your recipe calls for eggs, but did it ask you to beat the egg whites? If it didn’t, it’s a missed opportunity. Your pancakes could be light and fluffy with this one fix alone. Adjust your recipe. Mix the egg yolks in with the other wet ingredients, but beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Just before cooking, fold the egg whites into your batter. If you do this too far ahead of cooking, the egg whites will settle and lose their airiness.
Step 3: Cooking
Now that you have the perfect batter, it’s time to cook up a perfect pancake. Be sure the griddle or pan is heated to 375 degrees F. A drop of water should skitter across the pan. Rub your pan with clarified butter or vegetable oil (regular butter will burn!), and pour 1/4 cup of your batter in. Be patient and let the pancake set until the edges are dry and bubbles are forming on the top of the pancake. Now you are ready to flip.
Step 4: Avoid the pressure to press
Pancakes do not need to be pan-seared. You put all that work into a fluffy pancake, but many people undo that work with one step. Pressing down on top of the flipped pancake will not make it cook any more quickly and will remove all the air from the inside. The pancake will cook perfectly well without being pressed. In just 1 – 2 minutes, the pancake will be perfect and ready to eat.
Step 5: Serve
Pancakes are perfect when they’re fresh. They should be served as they come off the pan. If you have a griddle, this is easier, as you can cook 6 at a time. If you absolutely must, keep the pancakes warm in a 200 degree F oven; but if you can, serve them as soon as they are ready.
Step 6: Use real maple syrup
Your family deserves the exceptional taste of real maple syrup. Its taste has no equal, and your pancake won’t be perfect without it.
A version of this article was originally published in January 2014.