Makin’ Pancakes

I am on a quest to make the perfect pancake. The kind with a crispy, light brown outside and a fluffy, delicious inside. Also, I want blueberries.

It has not as been as easy as it sounds.

I have romantic notions about pancake making. If I want perfect pancakes that someone else makes, I can just go to a breakfast place where they all have the tools and the talent. If I’m at home, in my own kitchen, I not only want to make the perfect cake, but I want to do it with panache.

First, about the tools. Most skillets and griddles are covered with a sprayed-on surface a few microns thick. I do not care for engineered nonstick surfaces. That stuff wears off, and where does it go? Plus, I am superstitiously convinced that pancakes depend on the flip for their lightness of being. Have you ever tried to flip with a griddle? Cast iron provides a workable surface, but flipping a pancake with one would break my wrist.

I settled on an 8″ deBuyer Mineral-B carbon steel skillet. To season it, I rubbed it with Crisco and baked it in a 450 degree oven for thirty minutes, let it cool, then rubbed it with bacon grease and baked it again for another thirty minutes. I only use it for pancakes, and it is only capable of making one perfect pancake at a time. Even with the seasoned surface, it still requires patience. I mix up the batter and get the pan hot. I put in my blueberries and start the bacon.

I have a gas stove, so that’s nice. Even with the pan well seasoned and hot, the first pancake can still stick. This shouldn’t really be happening. I blame the blueberries. Anything that sticks to the pan affects the next pancake, and cleaning the pan when I’m done can be hard, because washing it with soap and water affects the seasoning, but just trying to scrape out stuck on stuff leaves places that burn or stick the next time out. I settled on a square of chain mail called “The Ringer” from Amazon, and that seems to work great to clean the pan, but after using it I often have to use a spatula to gently loosen the first pancake. I could butter the pan, but that’s cheating and doesn’t make the nice crispy brown top.

After I see bubbles on top of the pancake (about a minute and forty seconds) I loosen the cake and roll it around in the pan. Now it’s time for the flip! Cook the other side for another minute forty and then add it to the stack. Between the flip and the getting the pan “in”, I usually destroy one to two pancakes. Is all this painstaking work worth it? Should I just go to I-Hop? There have been bad days, where more pancakes than not ended up in the garbage disposal, and I ended up gritting my teeth and stomping around the kitchen. Nowadays, more often than not, I load a respectable stack with real butter and real syrup, and, though my tongue is blue, I would have to open my mouth to say yes.


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