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Pancakes and Bacon

SUNDAY SOMETIMES DEMANDS A REAL BREAKFAST

Breakfast might get a lot of attention in the media, but in most homes it’s rarely more than a bowl of cold cereal or an energy bar eaten on the run. And while you might consider a smoothie “a meal in a blender,” none of these options is good enough for Sunday morning, when the clock slows down and there’s time to make a real meal—one where everyone gathers around the table and eats together.

We understand why people resort to store-bought pie crust, but pancakes from a boxed mix don’t make much sense to us. Homemade pancakes require an additional 5 minutes to prepare and the results are so much better. The secret is as simple as a little acid, which jumpstarts the leavening reaction and guarantees fluffy hotcakes.

The hard part of this recipe, if there is one, is the cooking process—and that’s the case whether you use a homemade batter or a mix. Many cooks struggle to regulate the heat so each batch comes out golden brown. An electric griddle makes this easy. If you’re using a nonstick skillet, don’t use butter in the pan (it burns). Instead, put vegetable oil in a cold pan and heat the oil and pan together. When the oil is shimmering, use a paper towel to wipe out the oil, leaving just a thin film on the pan. Why do this? You need enough oil to gauge the pan temperature, but pools of oil cause uneven heating, which leads to blotches on your pancakes.

Finally, what are pancakes without a side of bacon? Our oven-fried recipe is so much easier than the traditional stovetop method that you will wonder why you never made bacon this way. Best of all, cooking bacon in the oven means all your attention is on the flapjacks.

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

Fake the Buttermilk

There’s no need to buy buttermilk to make pancakes with tangy flavor and fluffy texture. Soured milk, made by adding a little lemon juice to regular milk, has a tang similar to buttermilk and makes especially fluffy pancakes.

Two Leaveners Are Better Than One

Both baking soda and baking powder are essential in our pancakes. Baking soda reacts with the acid in the lemon juice and produces carbon dioxide to aerate the pancakes and provide lift. Baking powder reacts to the heat of the pan to release more carbon dioxide. Baking soda also helps the pancakes turn a nice golden-brown color.

A Lumpy Batter Is Best

Mixing the batter until smooth encourages excess gluten to form, which will produce tough, dense pancakes. Mix the batter until the ingredients are just combined. Lumps are okay—in fact they are essential to make pancakes with a light and fluffy texture.

Add Berries to the Pan, Not the Batter

No matter how careful you are, stirring the berries into the batter causes a few to break and produce blue-gray pancakes. Plus, the extra stirring makes for tough pancakes. The best method is simply to ladle some batter onto the hot skillet and then scatter a handful of berries on top.

Bake the Bacon

Cooking bacon on the stovetop requires constant attention and the hot splattering fat makes a greasy mess. The strips need to be turned and flipped in order to cook evenly. Using the oven instead of the frying pan is far easier, less messy, and more consistent. Also, oven frying allows you to cook a lot of bacon at one time—12 slices on a rimmed baking sheet in 10 minutes while you tend to the pancakes.

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A lumpy batter is a good sign you haven’t overmixed the wet and dry ingredients. And waiting to add the berries prevents the pancakes from turning purple.

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Blueberry Pancakes

MAKES SIXTEEN 4-INCH PANCAKES; SERVES 4 TO 6

RECIPE DETAILS

Timeline

  • 10 minutes to preheat oven, mix pancake batter, and heat skillet
  • 15 minutes to cook pancakes

Essential Tools

  • 12-inch nonstick skillet for cooking pancakes
  • Wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet for holding pancakes in oven
  • Large rimmed baking sheet (essential to contain rendered bacon fat)

Substitutions & Variations

  • An equal amount of distilled white vinegar can be used in place of the lemon juice.
  • If you have buttermilk on hand, use 2 cups instead of the milk and lemon juice.
  • Omit the blueberries if you like, or use another fruit (sliced as necessary), toasted nuts, or even mini chocolate chips instead.
  • The pancakes can be cooked on an electric griddle. Set the griddle temperature to 350 degrees and cook as directed.
  • Making and holding the pancake batter for up to 1 hour has no detrimental effect on the pancakes. After 1 hour, however, the batter spreads out too easily, producing thin and floppy cakes.
  • To freeze leftover pancakes, cool the pancakes to room temperature, then wrap them individually in plastic wrap and freeze for up to one month. When ready to serve, unwrap and spread them out on a wire rack set on top of a baking sheet, let thaw on the counter for 15 minutes, then reheat in a 350-degree oven until warm, 5 to 8 minutes.

To make sure frozen blueberries don’t bleed, rinse them under cool water in a fine-mesh strainer until the water runs clear, then spread them on a paper towel–lined plate to dry.

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1–2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 5 ounces (1 cup) fresh or frozen blueberries, rinsed and dried
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet and spray with vegetable oil spray; place in oven. Whisk milk and lemon juice together in 4-cup liquid measuring cup; set aside to thicken while preparing other ingredients. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl.
  2. Add egg and melted butter to milk mixture and whisk until combined. Make well in center of dry ingredients; pour in milk mixture and whisk very gently until just combined (few lumps should remain). Do not overmix.
  3. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Using paper towels, carefully wipe out oil, leaving thin film of oil on bottom and sides of pan. Using ¼-cup measure, portion batter into pan in 4 places. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon blueberries over each pancake. Cook pancakes until large bubbles begin to appear, 1½ to 2 minutes. Using thin, wide spatula, flip pancakes and cook until second side is golden brown, 1 to 1½ minutes longer. Serve pancakes immediately or transfer to wire rack in preheated oven. Repeat with remaining batter, using remaining oil as necessary.

LEMON-CORNMEAL BLUEBERRY PANCAKES

Add 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest to milk along with lemon juice and substitute 1½ cups stone-ground yellow cornmeal for 1 cup flour.

OVEN-FRIED BACON SERVES 4 TO 6

Make bacon then turn down the heat and use oven to keep pancakes warm. This recipe is easy to double for a crowd: Simply double the amount of bacon and use two rimmed baking sheets—be sure to rotate the sheets and switch their oven positions halfway through cooking.

12 slices bacon

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange bacon on rimmed baking sheet. Cook until fat begins to render, 5 to 6 minutes; rotate sheet. Continue cooking until bacon is crisp and brown, 5 to 6 minutes for thin-cut bacon or 8 to 10 minutes for thick-cut bacon. Transfer bacon to paper towel–lined plate, drain, and serve.

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