I recently had brunch with friends who made possibly the best pancakes I've ever tasted: tender, fluffy and moist. They wrote down the recipe, which contained buttermilk, but my pancakes didn't turn out nearly as well. Do you have any tips that might help?
— Tyler J., Jacksonville
While buttermilk often is used to lend moisture and loft to pancakes, taking a bit of extra care with the eggs actually yields the most tender results.
Separate the eggs, add yolks to the batter according to your recipe but whip the whites with an electric mixer into stiff peaks. Let the batter rest, loosely covered, for about five minutes. Then, using a rubber spatula, carefully fold whites into the batter just before cooking.
Before cooking pancakes, give your pan or griddle plenty of time to heat up. Well-made pancakes require a hot — but not scorching — pan.
To test the temperature, drop roughly 1 tablespoon batter into the pan. After a minute, if the cooked side is pale and beige, the pan isn't hot enough, but if it's golden-brown, the temperature is correct. If using an electric griddle, set the temperature in the 350- to 375-degree range.
Don't rush to flip pancakes, either. Wait until the faceup surface is a sea of small, unpopped bubbles. That's when it's time to turn them.
Pancakes are best enjoyed straight off the stove, so if you're making a large batch, transfer them to a 200-degree oven. Single layers of pancakes can be placed on a wire rack or baking sheet. Stack multiple layers between the folds of a kitchen towel set on a baking sheet.
And after taking all that care to keep your pancakes hot, make sure the toppings — butter and syrup — are served at room temperature.