Gravity-Defying Basic Buttermilk Pancakes

April  7, 2012
5 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This recipe's list of ingredients has been in our family since I can remember, but it was my sister's adept handling of the mixtures 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 so well, and pancake festivals ended up looking more like pancrêpe festivals. I was 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. So when my sister decided to come visit me here in Paris, I told her she could stay with me so long as she arrived with baking powder and maple syrup in tow. I wanted to do a thorough step by step analysis of the pancake-making process. A few bags of flour and jugs of lait ribot later, here are the very, but not overly, detailed secrets of her genius. —charticus

Test Kitchen Notes

I was really excited to test this recipe because I've been looking for a way to make pancakes that are a little fluffier than my standby's. So I tested them with my multigrain mixture (white whole wheat flour, wheat germ, ground up oats and corn meal), and I'm happy to say that it worked like a dream. This is the perfect Breakfast for Dinner recipe. You start everything when you get home from work, and let the batter rest while you put on comfy clothes. charticus gives three tips that she calls "genius," and this really is a genius recipe--brilliant, easy, great results. —drbabs

What You'll Need
  • 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
  1. Melt your butter in the microwave and put it on the counter. Take your buttermilk out of the fridge, measure it, and leave it on the counter. Proceed to wait agonizingly as they both come to room temperature. If you are still wearing party clothes from the night before, now is a good time to change.
  2. In a large bowl, mix your dry ingredients using a fork until they are well incorporated, about 30 seconds. GENIUS TIP #1: shape the dry ingredients into a well, like you would if you were making pasta, or a sandcastle. Dig a hole in the ingredients and shape some walls around it. Put the water on for coffee.
  3. In a smaller bowl, whisk the melted butter, eggs, and buttermilk together until well combined, then pour the mixture into your dry ingredient well. GENIUS TIP #2: use a wooden spoon to gently combine the wet and dry ingredients until there are just a few little pockets of flour left. Do not overmix. You should hear some very quiet sizzling—this is a magic recipe after all. Drink some coffee.
  4. GENIUS TIP #3: Cover the bowl and let it rest for at least a half hour. I've found that maximum fluffiness requires a good hour of waiting. Patience is key, so distract yourself. I find the FT Weekend edition to be particularly useful here.
  5. When ready to indulge, heat the pan over medium-low heat. When a drop of water sizzles off with attitude, swirl a teaspoon or so of butter around the pan until it is lightly coated, and pour pancake mixture in until you have reached your desired pancake size. Wait until bubbles break through the surface of the pancake in the middle and the edges have become slightly dry, about 7 minutes depending on your pan temperature. Flip with gusto and wait another couple of minutes until the pancake has reached a deliciously bronzed hue. Serve with maple syrup, and more coffee.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • lisa goldberg
    lisa goldberg
  • frannyshan
  • Ida-Maria Skavhaug
    Ida-Maria Skavhaug
  • Sabine Gagnon
    Sabine Gagnon
  • Midge

9 Reviews

lisa G. July 4, 2022
These are worth the wait times. Light, lofty and luscious. So happy I doubled the recipe!
David September 2, 2017
I have no clue what happened. I used the ingredients list exactly (made my own buttermilk like I always do), made sure everything was at room temp before I did any mixing, mixed them minimally with a spoon - leaving little pockets of flour like the recipe said, let it rest about 40 minutes, scooped the batter onto the hot griddle (same temp I always cook my pancakes), and had disastrous results. They came out flat, gummy, and with virtually no flavor at all. My baking powder and baking soda are both fairly new and have been working just fine in all my other recipes. I am a "pretty good" cook and have a couple of other pancake recipes that are consistently great. But, I have been looking for one that fluffs up like the ones I used to cook at the Waffle House when I worked there many lifetimes ago. I thought this one would at least rise, but they were as flat when I flipped them (bubbles in the middle of the top surface staying open) as when I scooped the batter onto the griddle. I am completely baffled.
frannyshan March 15, 2015
Really good - light and tangy! My joy of cooking buttermilk pancake page was in need of a refresh - and this is it. Thank you!
Ida-Maria S. February 17, 2015
Great recipe! Happy pancake day!! :-)
Hannah February 16, 2014
I just made these pancakes and I have to say that they're the best pancakes I've ever made. They were super thick and fluffy. The name 'gravity defying' is definitely apt.

I waited one hour for the batter to rest and I didn't over mix. I think that's why they were so good. Also, 2.5 cups of buttermilk doesn't hurt :p I added a teaspoon of vanilla essence as well.

They were so yummy that my boyfriend went, 'Mmm. They're delicious!!' I think he ate five. Woah.

Sabine G. November 1, 2013
These are seriously the BEST pancakes I have ever eaten. However, I was a bit peeved that I made 4 cups of coffee thinking that they go in to the recipe. ha ha I don't drink it and by the time I noticed it was for drinking, I felt like such an idiot. Maybe this is a sign I should be drinking coffee first thing in the morning. Thanks for sharing the recipe. It'll be my staple from now on! They are perfectly fluffy.
copywolf June 2, 2013
Made these two Sundays in a row with the addition of beautiful blueberries. Best homemade pancakes ever.
Midge April 27, 2012
So glad to hear that someone else was pancake-challenged. Your recipe has given me hope - can't wait to try it!
mrslarkin April 13, 2012
I sooo want to eat these pancakes right now! Your instructions are very well written - and very entertaining, too.