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Gravity-Defying "Basic" Buttermilk Pancakes

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This recipe has been in our family since I can remember, but it was my sister's adept handling of the ingredients that brought these babies, quite literally, to new heights. Every time she made the batter, the pancakes came out so tall they would not have looked out of place at an NBA draft. Every time I tried, things didn't go as well, and my pancakes ended up looking more like pancrêpes. Forced to admit that not all pan-fried carbohydrates are created equal, I handed over my spatula. 



However, once we siblings scattered across the globe, my cravings for perfectly thick and fluffy pancakes did not wane. I was a French Canadian in France, a country where the only thing more amusing to the locals than my French accent was me saying “pancake” in the said same accent. (Québécois people saying pancake even spawned a viral video that was quoted back to me many, many times.) So when my sister came to visit me here in Paris, I told her she could stay with me as long as she arrived with baking powder and maple syrup in tow.

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Photo by Bobbi Lin

She agreed, but we still had to do some research to find equivalent ingredients. We needed flour with enough gluten to make the pancakes puff up, not spread out and flop over with a crêpe-like shrug. French flour (more akin to North American cake flour) was out, replaced by some mighty “bio” flour—type 65 to be precise (thanks David Lebovitz!). We also used lait ribot, a fermented milk, as a substitute for the buttermilk. This was back in 2011, before probiotics were cool, so we didn’t mention that substitution to anybody. It worked out so well though that sometimes we now make these with kefir.

I thoroughly documented my sister’s pancake-making process for both my future self and my brother in Australia. Her genius lies in room temperature ingredients, a careful hand when mixing, and time. These are lazy-weekend, home-reminiscing pancakes.

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Gravity-Defying Basic Buttermilk Pancakes

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Serves 4
  • 2 1/4 cups flour (all-purpose in North America, type 65 in France)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter (at room temperature)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk (or lait ribot in France, or your own homemade version using vinegar)
  • 4 cups very hot coffee
  • Lots of good maple syrup
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For more on French food (sans white tablecloth), head here.

Tags: pancakes