A very special breakfast

It was Jeff’s birthday weekend, so I made him something special for breakfast that I hadn’t made for a looooong time: My famous buttermilk pancakes.

I had sort of forsaken this recipe in favor of heartier, more protein-fortified pancake recipes. Those are good, two, but this recipe takes the cake, so to speak. And it falls into my “everything in moderation” credo.

This is a hodgepodge of a few different recipes, so I can’t even remember the exact provenance. I can tell you the exact provenance of it’s name, though. They are “Bubba Cakes.” Bubba is one of the (many) nicknames for my dearly departed carb-craving boy cat (who’s real name was Simon). He would sit next to my chair, a vision of black-and-white mouthiness, and stridently demand a piece of pancake. I always obliged.

Simon (aka Bubba): 1993-2008

In keeping with our fall theme of late, we topped our plates of pancakey goodness with dollops of peanut butter, Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter and my latest batch of cranberry sauce. Cranberry sauce makes an excellent topping for pancakes can I just say? (It’s good on French toast and oatmeal, too).

Cranberry sauce: Not just for Thanksgiving anymore

We have some maple syrup in the fridge, which is probably as healthy a sweetener as you can find, but I rarely use it. I usually top pancakes and French toast with unsweetened applesauce (which is plenty sweet) and nut butter of some sort. I have a sweet tooth, but it’s not as sweet as it once was. Sliced banana is another favorite topper. I’ve also cooked down fresh or frozen berries and added just a touch of maple syrup to that. Easy and yummy, with a little kick of nutrition added in.

I also like to add cinnamon and vanilla extract to the batter, because it kind of kicks up the inherent flavor of the ‘cakes. I feel like this makes it easier to avoid loading them up with sweet, sugary stuff. There’s a lot of butter in these, which also really contributes to the flavor, so it’s nice to not top off that fat with a side of sugar, I think 😉

Bubba Cakes
Makes about 20 pancakes; 5-6 servings

2 cups flour (I’ve used unbleached white, whole wheat pastry and regular whole wheat flour with equal success)
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/4 cup butter (1/8 lb or 1/2 stick), melted and cooled slightly
2.5 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

  1. Measure dry ingredients (flour through the optional cinnamon) into a medium mixing bowl and stir with a whisk to combine.
  2. Crack eggs into a small mixing bowl, whisk briefly, then measure in the buttermilk (and vanilla, if using). When the butter is cooled enough so it won’t cook the eggs, add it to the egg mixture and whisk to combine.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk just until they are combined. Overmixing = tough pancakes!
  4. Turn the heat under the griddle to medium. Allow the batter to sit while the griddle heats (the batter will become light and kind of inflated with little air holes). I use a nonstick griddle with just a touch of butter, but you can do whatever suits you and your particular griddle.
  5. When the griddle is hot (a drop of water sizzles when flicked onto it), use a ladle or a measuring cup to scoop about 1/3 cup of the batter per pancake onto the griddle. Cook for about two minutes, until the edges are dry and the underside is browning, then flip and cook for not quite as long on the second side. I like to turn down the heat just a bit if I don’t it seems like the batches to follow cook too quickly and get overbrown by the time they are ready to flip. But your cooktop might behave differently.

Note: I halve this recipe when it’s just the two of us. I have also doubled it sucessfully, but I have had to turn down pleas to make it for a crowd big enough to require more than a double batch (I told you this recipe was famous). I quadrupled it once, and it just did not work. The batter kind of lost something by the time half of it made it onto the griddle. This is often the case with baked goods, interestingly. The chemistry of baking (even on a griddle) is such that increasing the amounts in a linear fashion often doesn’t work.