My Favorite Pancakes: the perfect recipe for substitutions

Published by emilyatspecklefarm on

Homemade pancakes have always been one of my family’s favorite breakfasts. I have fond memories of my grandma Judy’s hot cakes. There have been plenty of other pancakes I’ve made and eaten that have been less than memorable. Bisquick pancakes top that list, not only do they taste like powdered cardboard but as with almost any baking mix, they are very unhealthy. The one thing those mixes have going for them (sometimes) is how pretty-I mean tall and fluffy- the pancakes turn out. 
 It can be tricky to get a really pretty pancake from scratch but even a downright ugly pancake made from scratch is going to taste a thousand times better than any mix. You can make pretty, relatively healthy pancakes from scratch with a little imagination and attention to detail. Achieving that tall, fluffy, melt in your mouth, flavorful pancake without a bought mix is a lovely little miracle to start out any day.
Homemade Pancakes ~Life From Scratch
 I have been making this recipe for years so I have had a lot of time to perfect it and experiment with it. The original recipe is from Carol Frieberg’s cookbook Breakfast in Bed , pg 189 “Apple walnut whole wheat pancakes” I have long since deviated far from the written recipe; that’s not unusual for me. I don’t usually follow recipes very closely. The unusual thing about this one is how adaptive it is. I have tried all sorts of variations and almost all turned out good; only my banana experiment was a complete flop. I have been experimenting with using baking soda, buttermilk and buckwheat recently. I am absolutely in love with my most recent variation, you really won’t regret trying them.

Basic Recipe

 This recipe feeds my husband and me with one or two left over when we are really hungry.
1 heaping cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1-2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
 1 tbs vinegar ( white or apple cider fine) *if you use buttermilk you don’t need the vinegar*
Homemade Pancakes (flour)


 Buckwheat Buttermilk Version

1/3 heaping cup each whole wheat bread flour, ground oatmeal, buckwheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
toasted nuts
diced apples
stone fruit
I have used everything from cake to whole wheat flours, buckwheat, oatmeal and oatmeal flour. 
Homemade pancakes (flour)The best ratios I have found are equal parts two flours or 3rds for two or three flours. If you want to use oatmeal don’t use more then a 1/3 cup in a single batch, otherwise rise and texture get funky. If you grind the oatmeal into a course flour ( food processor time!) you can use it as a 1:1 ration with another flour just fine.
Unless you really understand how leaveners work I wouldn’t recommend experimenting with them very much. The original recipe calls for 2 tsp baking powder but I have found by substituting part of that with baking soda they rise more.
No substitutions!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ok, that’s not true, just my feeling on the subject. Coconut oil would probably work great. Please, for the love of god, your health and good food, don’t use margarine or any other imitation butter spread! That stuff is seriously bad for your health and an insult to butter. It was created in a time when we understood a lot less about what makes a fat good or bad and unfortunately the common knowledge about fats is taking it’s time catching up with current science. I have a post planned about butter and a little of the science behind fats if you are interested. In a pinch, you can use any fat you have but be aware the flavor will change and if it’s an oil you won’t benefit from the creaming step.
I have used duck eggs often and you can’t tell the difference. I have read you can use a banana to replace eggs but have never tried it, I probably should sometime…
Anyway, If you want to make pancakes without any wheat flours, (if for instance you were eating gluten free) or want taller pancakes, use two eggs. 
The original recipe calls for 2 tbs molasses. You can substitute with white or raw sugar as well. I haven’t tried any liquid sweeteners like honey or agave but they should work. You would likely need to use less and be aware they won’t work for creaming. As with margarine, zero-calorie artificial sweeteners are not a good option, instead why not cut the sugar way down or out all together.
Homemade Pancakes (batter)The measurement given is really a starting point. Depending on the flours used you may need more but it’s very unlikely that you will need less. This can be substituted completely with buttermilk or soured milk and partially with yogurt, creme fraiche, cream or sour cream. I think you could completely substitute with kefir but I have never used kefir for anything so that’s just a hunch.

fast, less fluffy version

Whisk or fork stir your dry ingredients very well together. Melt the butter in a sauce pan, beat the eggs and sugar in bowl, when the butter is melted add the milk to it so the heat doesn’t curdle the eggs. Then whisk the butter-milk mixture into the egg mixture. If you are adding any hard extras, now add them to the liquids, if they are soft, add them very last. Then whisk in your dry ingredients.

the longer, taller, fluffier version

Sift your dry ingredients three or four times. Personal experience here, you will be a lot less annoyed if you add the oatmeal or ground oatmeal after sifting and whisk it in. As you can imagine, those big chunks don’t fit through sifter mesh very well. Cream your butter and sugar thoroughly, beat in the eggs, then liquid. Whisk in your dry ingredients partially then add any extras and whisk until dry patches are just gone.
Homemade Pancakes ~Life From Scratch


Pointers and Troubleshooting

Don’t heat the pan until after the batter is finished. That little bit of a rest lets more bubbles develop from the leaveners making taller pancakes. My first pancakes are always ugly, deformed, burnt things. That’s perfectly normal; you are finding the right temperature and the batter might need a little more milk or a little more flour. Plus, there’s always someone hungry enough to happily eat those ones.
Homemade pancakes ~Life From Scratch
Medium heat is usually about right. You can tell if the pan is too hot because one side will be burned before flipping it in one piece is a realistic option.
Thicker batters make taller pancakes. A good comparison is at least the consistency of store bought ranch dressing. It can also be thick enough it plops off the spoon instead of running and make great pancakes. Mine are usually somewhere in between those two. People often underestimate how forgiving pancake batter is. If you were patient and waited to heat the pan but your first pancake is too flat add a couple tablespoons of flour, if it’s too thick drizzle in some milk. The thing you have to be careful with is over mixing the batter. When that happens you remove all the little bubbles and the pancakes end up flat.
Homemade pancakes (lard) I have got in the habit of frying our pancakes in lard. To make adding more with each pancake faster and more efficient, I just scoop the lard out with a spoon. Then I run the glob of fat around the pan or press it against the sides to melt it off into the pan. This could be used for any solid fat when you need a little throughout cooking but don’t want to drown your food in fat.
I hope you enjoy these as much as we do. I would love to hear what variations you tried and how it turned out. Good Luck!
homemade pancakes

this post is participating in The Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways Wednesday, Fresh Food Wednesday and The HomeAcre Blog Hops go check out some other blogs like ours!

[yumprint-recipe id=’2′]


Anonymous · August 5, 2013 at 6:06 pm

I am catching up on your blog today!I am excited to try this pancake recipe! I have decided to quit buying store bought pancake mix & I have been looking for recipes that use whole wheat and/or oat flour. I especially would like to know how to incorporate oat flour because I have a lot of oats that need used up.Sis. Tisha

    Emily Swezey · August 5, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    So glad you like my blog!Oats are awesome in pancakes! If you have more processed, fine oats they can be added as is, if you have steel cut or old fashioned type oats you should probably grind them into a flour. I just use my food processor and keep whizzing them until I’m happy with the texture, like a course meal, you can see in a picture in the post what I mean. Experiment with proportions to find a texture and flavor you like. You can mix the dry ingredients for this in big batches so you have it on hand and just add the wet ingredients, like a store bought mix.If you have any more questions just ask!Good luck and thanks for visiting!Emily

Nancy W · September 10, 2013 at 4:02 pm

I love pancakes and so does my husband! Going to pin this to try later! You shared some great posts on the HomeAcre Hop! Look forward to seeing what you share this week! Nancy HomeAcre Hop

    Emily Swezey · September 10, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Thank you! I hope you like them, We love pancake and I’m always experimenting with new combos. See you at the blog hop!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *