A Perfect Pancake Primer

We know you can make great pancakes.  With this primer, you’ll make even better pancakes.  In this primer you will find:

Click on any of these links above to go directly to the topic in this primer.

Pancakes are a quick bread cooked on a griddle.  Like other quick breads, they are leavened with baking soda or baking powder.  (Some pancakes are also leavened with beaten egg whites.)  They can be cooked on a griddle rather than in the oven because they are thin and turned, cooked on both sides.  The steps are straightforward.

Steps to Making Pancakes

  1. In a medium bowl or pitcher, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and leavening.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the liquid ingredients.  That will usually include eggs, melted butter or oil, and water, milk, or buttermilk.
  3. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Mix only until thoroughly moistened.  Some lumps will remain.  Do not over mix.  The batter should be thin enough to pour easily and spread to no more than 1/4 inch thick.  If the batter is too thick, thin with more liquid.
  4. Scoop or pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto a hot griddle.  If you are using a griddle with a thermostat, the heat should be set on 375 degrees.
  5. Cook the pancakes until the tops are full of bubbles, the bubbles set, and the edges begin to look dry.  The pancakes should be a golden brown on the bottom.  Turn the pancake over and cook the opposite side until it browns.
  6. Serve hot off the griddle.

Tips for Making Perfect Pancakes

Use the right ingredients:  Fresh is important.  Fresh flour, eggs, and milk all make a difference.  Flour is the main ingredient.  It’s amazing how much better fresh flour tastes.  Try to buy some higher quality four from a small or local mill.

Use the right leavening:  Pancakes should be full of hot air with lots of bubbles trapped inside.  Most pancakes are leavened with either baking powder or baking soda.  For baking soda to work, it must be teamed with an acid, usually buttermilk.  Baking soda mixed with buttermilk creates a chemical reaction and lots of bubbles.  Cook the batter before the bubbles dissipate.  Double acting baking powder creates bubbles both when mixed with a liquid and when heated.  Time is not such a factor.

When making buttermilk pancakes, the baking soda neutralizes the acid in the buttermilk.  With enough soda, the acid will be completely neutralized and eliminate the tangy buttermilk taste.  More soda yet will create an unpleasant, astringent taste.

Use the right mixing:  Your batter should have lumps in it.  Two things go wrong when pancake patter is over mixed: the gluten is developed making the batter elastic instead of tender and bubbles from the leavening get beaten out.

Use the right consistency:  If the batter is too thin, you’ll have thin, crepe-like pancakes.  If it’s too thick, they won’t spread and cook properly and may be doughy in the middle.  The batter should be thin enough that they spread properly, less than 1/4 inch thick when poured on the griddle.

You can thin batters by adding a little water or milk.  Thickening a thin batter is a little more difficult.   Sift a little flour over the batter and gently fold it in.

Use the right cooking: The griddle should be very lightly greased—you are cooking pancakes, not frying them.  Brush a little butter on the griddle or whip a little oil onto the griddle with a paper towel.  The griddle should be hot.  If it has a thermostat, it should be set to 375 degrees.  A few drops of cold water sprinkled on the griddle should dance.  If it’s too hot, the water will vaporize.  If the griddle’s not hot enough the water beads on the griddle.

How to Make Extra Light and Fluffy Pancakes

There’s a trick that the fine restaurants use to make extra light and fluffy pancakes: they fold in a whipped egg white.

You can do the same.  Whip an egg white to the soft peak stage.  Gently fold the white into your prepared pancake batter and cook.  If it’s a large batch, fold in two or three whipped whites.

How to Make: Your Own Buttermilk Pancake Mix

Pancakes from scratch just taste better than most of the mixes in the stores but when you’re in a hurry, who has time for scratch? We’ll tell you how to make a buttermilk pancake mix so that you can have great “from scratch” pancakes when you are in a hurry. It’s storable and since it has everything included but eggs, it’s a great mix to stick in the RV or take camping.

You can make this mix as large or as small as you like. We give you three choices but keep the same ratio of ingredients to make it any size.

Homemade Buttermilk Pancake Mix
All Purpose Flour cups 4 8 12
Sugar cups 1/4 1/2 3/4
Dry Buttermilk Powder cups 1/2 1 1 1/2
Baking Soda tsp 2 4 6
Baking Powder tsp 4 8 12
Salt tsp 1 2 3
Makes Approx lbs 1 2/3 3 1/3 5

For easier measurement, remember that one tablespoon equals three teaspoons.

Combine all the ingredients and whisk together to distribute evenly. Store your buttermilk pancake mix in a sealed container in a cool place and use it within three months. If you would like to keep the mix longer, store it in the freezer.

You can buy buttermilk powder in your grocery store in the section with dry milk. (You can also buy a quality, long lasting buttermilk powder on our site at a very good price.)

To use your mix:

1. Measure the desired mix into a large bowl.
2. In a smaller bowl, whisk one egg for every one to 1 1/2 cups of mix.
3. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter or oil to the egg for every one cup of mix.
4. Add 2/3 cup water to the egg mixture for every one cup of mix. Add the liquid mixture to the mix and stir until just combined. The batter will probably be too dry so add more water to reach the desired consistency.

How to Use Pancake Rings

Pancake rings are used for both pancakes and eggs.  It’s fun to make shapes like hearts and dinosaurs.  They are great for making perfectly round eggs for English muffin sandwiches and eggs benedict.

Simply place the rings in the pan and fill them with batter or an egg.  When it’s done on one side, flip ring and all.  When done, put ring and all on a plate and lift oft the ring.

What to Look for in Gourmet Fruit Syrups

Fruit syrups go great on pancakes and waffles.  But not all fruit syrups are created equal.  Here’s how to pick the best.

The first ingredient should be fruit juice.  The fruit juice should deliver both the flavor and the color.  Good syrups don’t rely on added flavors and colors except as supplemental flavors like cinnamon or vanilla.

  • The second ingredient should be sugar.  Don’t buy syrups and jams with corn syrup.  Corn syrup masks the real fruit taste.
  • Preservatives are not needed.  The acids in juice and syrup make a natural preservative.
  • Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) is okay.  It’s used to improve tartness.

Some syrups are clear and some retain fruit pulp.  Either is fine.  The former is simply strained to remove solids.  Solids can give flavor and body.

How to Make German Pancakes and Pannekoeken

German pancakes and Dutch pannekoeken are baked in the oven.  They are even easier and quicker than pancakes.  Just pour syrup over them for breakfast, load them with fruit for brunch, or make them with meat and veggies for a main dish.

Pannekoeken are easy—as easy as a pancake. In fact, there is less prep time than with pancakes—mix the batter and stick it in the oven. (In our test kitchen with the ingredients sitting on the counter, we were 2 1/2 minutes to the oven.) They are great without toppings and sublime with toppings.

No matter how you top your pannekoeken, there are several easy steps that make them almost foolproof:

1. Place one-half cube of butter in a Dutch Baby pan or an ovenproof skillet with rounded sides.
2. Preheat your oven to 400 or 425 degrees depending on the recipe. Put the rack in the center, not the top, shelf. When you turn the oven on, place the pan with the butter in the oven. When the oven reaches 250 degrees the butter should be melted. Remove the pan from the oven.
3. Whisk the eggs and the salt in a medium bowl. Add the milk. Whisk in the flour until nearly smooth. Your batter is now ready.
4. Pour the batter into the pan. Cover with toppings if desired.
5. Bake. Serve hot.

Be sure and use a whisk for mixing. A whisk will remove the lumps much quicker than a spoon or spatula. This is a perfect task for the Mister Twister Whisk.

Pannekoeken makes an excellent canvas for your imagination. Here are some suggestions to get you started. You can make these recipes in an ovenproof skillet but they are more fun with a quality, classy Dutch baby pan.

We hope this is enough to get your imagination rolling.

When we lived in Minnesota there was a chain of pannekoeken restaurants. They served these Dutch pancakes with all types of toppings, some cooked into the batter but often used as toppings after the pancake is baked.

Apples are the classic complement to pannekoeken. They can be cooked in the batter, sautéed, made into a compote, or simply sliced thinly and used as a topping. But meats, cheeses, and vegetables work also, especially for a dinner or lunch dish. When made with meats or vegetables, leave them as they are or drizzle them with a white sauce, a cheese sauce, or syrup.

How to Make Aebleskiver—Danish Puff Pancakes

Aebleskiver or Danish puff pancakes are made on the stovetop in a special pan.  These puffy little balls are cooked on one side and then rotated to cook the other.  They are filled with jam or fruit.  They can also be filled with shipped cream, marshmallow cream, or pastry cream with a decorating set.  (We’ll give you the decorating set with the pan.)

A holiday in Denmark often begins with a breakfast of puffy little pastries called aebleskiver (ebleskiver). Traditionally, they are made with an apple filling or served with applesauce (hence their name). Like other great pastries, wonderful variations have evolved. You’ll love aebleskiver with jam fillings and cream cheese fillings.


2 cups all-purpose or cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
filling of your choice
powdered sugar


1. Mix together the flour, salt, and baking soda.
2. Separate the eggs, the yolks from the whites. Set the yolks aside. Beat the egg whites until light and fluffy and soft peaks form.
3. Add the egg yolks and the buttermilk to the flour mixture and stir until combined. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
4. Grease your aebleskiver pan with a spray dispenser or with butter (spray your pan again as needed). Heat the pan over medium heat. When hot, fill each cup one-third full with batter. Add a small amount of filling to each. Cover with an additional one-third batter. (Try using our Medium Quick Release Scoop to cleanly drop the batter into the cups.)
5. Cook for one to one and one-half minutes before turning. (You can turn your aebleskiver with a toothpick or skewer.) Cook for another minute or until done. Remove to a plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve warm.

Choose your filling!

You can fill your aebleskivers with almost anything from applesauce to frosting.  Very light fillings such as whipped toppings, pastry creams, and frostings should be injected with a pastry bag or decorating set.

  • Apple aebleskivers: Sauté peeled apple slices with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon or used canned pie filling.   Apples have traditionally been used with aebleskivers.
  • Jam aebleskivers: Use your favorite jam. We’re partial to berry jam or cherry jam.
  • Cream Cheese aebleskivers: Whip cream cheese with your favorite gourmet jam or fruit syrup.
  • Cheese and bacon aebleskivers:  Add a cube of cheese and cooked bacon pieces to each aebleskiver.

Make them with a mix!

aebleskiver can be made with pancake mixes. Your pancake batter needs to be lighter for aebleskivers than for pancakes.  Instead of adding the egg called for in the directions, fold in the beaten egg whites from three large eggs. One of our favorite aebleskiver variations is made with Martha’s Gingerbread Pancake Mix and Gourmet Harvest Peach Cobbler Jam.