"My theory is that the original maker of this recipe was supposed to beat the egg white but either forgot or decided to skip the step. And, to be honest, laziness was the reason I thought I would try it, too," Dana Velden, who's been making this recipe for over 15 years, told me. "I was more than willing to not beat egg whites at 7am." For extra fluffy pancakes, buy thick, local whole-milk buttermilk when you see it. You often won't have a choice, but when you do, take it. Whichever kind of buttermilk you use, thick or thin, stirring in the egg white (not beating it) at the end gives a noticeable puff and bounce to the cakes. Recipe adapted slightly from Dana Velden via The Kitchn. —Genius Recipes
18 to 20 three-inch pancakes (serves 4 to 6)
2 1/2 cups
flour (Editor's note: in testing, we used 300 grams unbleached all-purpose flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons
large eggs, separated
buttermilk (for extra, extra fluffy pancakes, seek out thick, whole milk buttermilk)
unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Canola or unrefined peanut oil for frying
Heat the oven to 225° F and prepare a large baking sheet by setting a cooling rack inside. Place both in the oven.
Whisk the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in a large bowl. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk the egg yolks, buttermilk, and milk. Add the melted, cooled butter and whisk until well combined.
Pour the yolk and milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until barely combined. Add the egg whites and stir just until a thick batter is formed. Set aside for 5 minutes.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, film with 1/2 teaspoon of neutral oil such as canola or peanut oil. After about 30 seconds, when the oil shimmers but is not smoking, lower the heat to medium-low and use a soup spoon to drop in heaping spoonfuls of pancake batter.
The batter will spread into a pancake about 3 inches wide. Cook for about 2 1/2 minutes. (If the pancake scorches or the oil smokes, lower the heat.) When the bubbles that form on the edges of the pancakes look dry and airy, use a thin spatula to gently lift one side and peek underneath. If the pancake is golden brown, flip and cook on the other side for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, or until the bottom of the pancake is golden brown.
Remove from the skillet to the baking sheet in the oven. Wipe any stray crumbs or scraps out of the skillet with a paper towel, add a little more oil, and continue to cook the remaining batter.
If you don't have buttermilk on hand, you can use plain yogurt instead. Just use about 2/3 cup and thin it with some milk until it reaches the 1 cup mark. You can also quickly make a buttermilk substitute by mixing 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or white vinegar with 2 cups of milk.
Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They're handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacy. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And, once we've folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too. Watch for new Genius Recipes every Wednesday morning on our blog, dug up by Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore.