I’m not sure how the ritual started, but when I was nine and my sister, Danielle, was seven, we would wake up every morning at five to make buttermilk pancakes from scratch for Dad’s breakfast (he was the early riser since he had to be to work by seven). We were total “Daddy’s girls” and loved to do anything that pleased him, but we especially loved to make him buttermilk pancakes because we also got to reap the delicious rewards of our efforts.
Before Dad’s alarm went off, we’d tiptoe down the stairs and together we’d measure the ingredients for the pancakes into a big bowl and then carefully pour spoonfuls onto a special plug-in pancake griddle that we cooked eight small pancakes on at a time. While they cooked, we’d nibble on the edges and once the first ones were done, we nibbled on those. I loved those pancakes probably more than anything else I ate growing up because it was the closest thing to junk food that was regularly allowed to be produced in my Mom’s kitchen. A product with dairy, white flour and white sugar was unheard of in our house and it still kind of surprises me today that she allowed us to do it. Then again, she was probably just grateful that she wasn’t the one waking up at five to make breakfast! :)
By the time Dad came down from his bath in his mailman uniform, smelling like Old Spice, we had a big plate full of pancakes and coffee ready, and if we were really on the ball we’d have scrambled eggs cooked up too. I still can smell the combination of pancakes, butter, coffee and Old Spice surrounding me as we sat down with Dad and gleefully tore into the butter and syrup-laden pancakes, trying to keep our voices down while Mom and our little sister, Lacey, slept peacefully upstairs.
Eventually the thrill of eating those “forbidden fruit” pancakes wore off and was no longer enough of an incentive to get us out of bed before dawn. The daily ritual eventually diminished to once a week and then once a month, but it lasted for years. By the time I was in high school, pancakes were a special Sunday breakfast that we only indulged in a few times a year and I haven’t seen that old stained buttermilk pancakes recipe that we cut out from the back of a flour sack since I left home over a decade ago.
That recipe somehow got lost without me there to use it, however infrequently, and I was left slightly unsatisfied with the pancakes I’ve made since then. Well, the “Best Buttermilk Pancakes” were really good, but not fluffy like my favorite childhood pancakes. These pancakes are the closest thing I’ve had to those I made growing up since I’ve left home–wonderfully soft and fluffy with just a hint of sweetness.
Maybe it’s because I never had real maple syrup growing up (shocking, since Mom mainly stocked unrefined sugars such as honey and molasses–maybe real maple syrup was just not in our food budget), but I prefer these pancakes with Aunt Jemima. (They are pictured with real maple syrup, which is why it’s soaking in rather than sitting on the surface.)
Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups well shaken buttermilk
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil (plus extra for skillet)
Mix dry ingredients together in medium bowl. Add all wet ingredients at once and stir just until combined. Do not over mix, batter will be slightly lumpy. Lightly coat skillet with oil. Heat to medium low. Drop 1/8 cup of batter onto heated skillet. Cook on first side until bubbles begin to form on surface, 2-3 minutes. Flip over and cook another 2-3 minutes until golden brown and centre springs back when lightly touched. Serve warm with maple syrup and butter. Makes 10-12 pancakes.
Recipe source: Radishes and Rhubarb
Most of the pictures taken of us growing up remain at my parents’ house, but I thought I’d include a few that I do have here.