Buttermilk Pancakes

Everyone has a recipe for something that they claim is the best. It might be the best pumpkin soup, or the best roast potatoes, or the best chocolate cake. It’s usually a recipe for something that is well known, recreated often and stuffed up more often. It probably has a little tip or trick that may or may not work for everyone that tries the recipe. My ‘best’ recipe is for pancakes.

I’m not kidding when I say that everyone who tries these pancakes proclaims them to be the best ones they have ever tasted. They are quite thick pancakes, but also light and fluffy. They also don’t have that floury taste you often get with a basic pancake recipe. I think the addition of butter and sugar make them more cake-like, but in a good way – you can still cover them with as much maple syrup and icecream as you like, as they’re not too sweet on their own, but you could probably eat them on their own if you wanted to.

I guess there a couple of tricks to this recipe. The first is the buttermilk: it thickens the pancake mix so that when you put the batter into the frypan, it doesn’t spread out and become too thin (resulting in thin pancakes, which aren’t really my thing). Buttermilk is in the same section as ordinary milk in the supermarket, and despite its name, doesn’t actually contain butter. The second tip is the temperature of your hotplate: pancakes need to be cooked slowly, so they are evenly browned on the outside and cooked through on the inside. Hence you want your stovetop on low to medium heat; the worst thing you can do is crank the heat up too high, which would result in the middle of the pancake being raw. Sometimes it’s tempting to increase the heat because these pancakes take quite a while to cook (they’re no pancake shake, that’s for sure) but good things come from being patient!

A couple of other notes about the recipe – the original recipe only specified 500 mL of buttermilk, but I found this made the batter way too thick and difficult to work with, so I got into the habit of adding a little bit of extra ordinary milk to thin out the batter. The batter will still be thick enough to spread manually, but it will also spread a little bit by itself. I never actually measure the extra milk, as you might need more or less on each occasion, but it is approximately 1/4 cup. Another option is that if you’ve bought a 600mL carton of buttermilk, you can just use the entire thing and skip the ordinary milk entirely.

Secondly, I wouldn’t attempt these pancakes if you’re in a rush. I like to cook one pancake at a time and from preparation to consumption, the whole process takes over an hour. If you’re coordinated you could attempt to cook multiple smaller pancakes at a time in a larger frypan, or you could have two pans going at once, which would speed up the process.

Buttermilk pancakes, adapted from BBC Good Food Magazine (Australia) 

Ingredients

  • 45g butter
  • 2 cups/300g plain flour
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1/4 cup/55g white sugar
  • 600mL buttermilk or 500mL buttermilk with approx. 1/4cup regular milk
  • 2 free range eggs
  • A little bit of butter, extra, for the pan
  • Maple syrup, jam, honey, strawberries and icecream to serve

Method

  1. Melt butter on stovetop or in microwave, cool.
  2. Sift together flour and raising agents. Stir in sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together milks and eggs. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the milk mixture. Whisk together gently until almost combined. Add butter and gently fold through. The mixture should still be a bit lumpy.
  4. Heat a little bit of butter in a heavy-based non-stick frying pan on low-medium heat (I preheat the stove on mark 4, then reduce to 3 when I’m ready to cook – my stove goes up to 9). Wipe out most of the excess butter with paper towel (you don’t want to shallow fry your pancakes).
  5. Once the pan is hot, pour 1/3 cup of batter into the pan. The batter will still be quite thick. Gently spread out mixture into a circle of about 15cm diameter with the back of a spoon or spatula. Once you have made a couple of pancakes you will be able to work out how thin you should spread your batter to get it the thickness you want – I like them thick, so I leave the batter thick, maybe half a centimetre in height.
  6. Cook the pancake for 3-4 minutes or until a few bubbles appear on the surface and pop. You can also use a spatula to have a little peek underneath the pancake; it’s ready to flip if it’s brown. If your pancakes are browning too much but not cooking, turn the heat down to low.
  7. Flip and cook for about a minute or two, increasing the heat slightly (I increase to mark 4). The pancake should puff up and be nice and fluffy. Repeat until all of the pancakes are finished.
  8. Serve with whatever you please. If you want to serve the pancakes all at once, you can keep them in a very low heat oven while the others are cooking. If you want to save them for later, put the pancakes on a wire rack to cool as you cook them (this stops them going soggy) and then store them in the fridge.

This recipe makes around 10 large pancakes, or more smaller ones. It really depends on how much batter you use per pancake. The original recipe stated it should serve 6 people, but I think it’s probably closer to 4.

So I guess you want photographic evidence that these pancakes actually are super yummy. I wish I could give it to you, but I am still awful at taking photos. You’ll have to look at this (awful) picture on instagram and trust me…

Until next time then! Let me know if these pancakes turned out as well for you as they do for me.

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Red Door Bakery

Every time I try to begin writing this review, I stop and start again, because I cannot simply introduce Red Door with a sentence or two. It really deserves some kind of outrageous song and dance routine, complete with costumes made out of puff pastry. It’s that good.

So by now you may think I am crazy, and have closed the page to this review, dismissing it as the work of a sausage roll-crazed lunatic. And you would probably be correct in that assumption. Alternatively, you are desperately curious as to what on earth I’m going on about, especially if you have never heard of Red Door before (you poor thing).

Red Door began its life as a little bakery on Croydon’s slightly hipster Queen/Elizabeth St precinct with – you guessed it – a red front door. It is very much out of the way, so if you were unaware of this little community hub, chances are you would never discover it. What was probably once a series of local shops (think butcher, baker, grocer – though I’m guessing here) has evolved into another little series of shops, with a couple of cafes thrown in. There are boutiques, the cafes (Let Them Eat is a particular favourite of mine), a hairdresser,  a grocer (Queen Street Grocer, another favourite), a deli and of course, the constantly buzzing Red Door Bakery. The whole area has always seemed idyllic to me, with its painted stobie poles, laughing children running around, consistent sunny days and the general lovely vibe of the place.

Anyway, I think I may have originally found Red Door (and Queen St) through a review – perhaps from The Thousands – about a year and a half ago. And ever since that first visit I have been hooked, returning weekly for my fix. If you had to describe Red Door in one word, it would simply be real. Everything that is produced has a homemade look and taste to it, which is probably attributable to the seasonal, local and high quality produce used in the goods. It is many miles off what most bakeries produce and call food these days.

Every week I get the same thing for lunch – the Moroccan lamb and eggplant sausage roll. Each time I bite into one, the flavour is so unique that I am overcome with some kind of food bliss and it is hard to keep the “ahhhhh” sound from escaping my lips. Every mouthful reminds me of returning home.

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Moroccan lamb and eggplant sausage roll

My other companions tend to rotate their choices a bit – maybe a pork and sage sausage roll (I swear the lamb is better, my brother prefers the pork, but they are both lovely!), a shiraz and pancetta chunky angus beef pie or perhaps a chorizo, chicken and white bean pie, depending on the specials of the week. I, however, struggle to buy anything but my usual, and just sneak in a bite of everyone else’s meals to try new things. I’ve enjoyed all of them, but I keep going back to the Moroccan sausage roll!

For dessert I try to vary it up a bit. A favourite is the hazelnut swirl pastry, or a pear danish, or perhaps a plain croissant to toast with jam at home. The seasonal muffin is always a treat too. I loved last winter’s apple almond crumble muffin, and the quince and pistachio muffin (if Red Door is reading this, can these please make a comeback? 🙂 ). Strawberry and white  chocolate was a summer favourite, and the current variety is a banana muffin smothered with gooey caramel – it’s good. The almond croissants are also to die for (unless you’re allergic to nuts, in which case it just might not be worth actually dying for one), with a lovely, sweet, almond filling. I could go on forever about my love for Red Door, and all of the amazing things they sell, but I’ll try and keep the rest short.

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Pear danish

Red Door sell a couple of types of bread. They have the sourdough loaf, which is what I usually buy each week. It’s perfect for toasties, with scrambled eggs and bacon or perhaps sneaking a slice with butter before dinner. There is also the olive oil loaf, which is much softer though keeps and toasts well, and I find is good for burgers (or sneaking a slice before dinner). They also have mini bread sticks which are a yummy snack or quick lunch (think toppings of olives and rosemary or chorizo and caramelised onion) and little bread rolls. More recently they have begun making a sourdough spiced fruit loaf. I bought one the very day they began selling them and enjoyed the entire loaf (mostly to myself) immensely. The spices were just right, and I loved the denseness of the bread, though perhaps would have preferred a little more dried fruit.

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The coffee is also lovely, and I can particularly vouch for the iced coffee made with Red Door’s own espresso icecream. The icecream is the best bit. Don’t try to share it, or tears will be shed over the last spoonful.

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And I couldn’t review Red Door without congratulating the lovely owners and staff. They are always so friendly and helpful, not to mention they make the best baked goods ever, which puts them pretty high in my books!

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Goodwood store

If you’re like me and live nowhere near Croydon (though willing to travel for Red Door goodness), you will be pleased to hear that the lovely owners have recently opened up a second store in Goodwood, on King William Rd. I was hesitant at first about Red Door 2, but upon visiting today I found it just as warm and welcoming as the Croydon store, if not more so. It was buzzing at 11am – I’m glad the locals on this side of town appreciate Red Door as much as those in the west!

So by now you are probably salivating all over your keyboard, unless bad descriptions and photos have no effect on you. Want your Red Door fix? Here are the details:

Red Door 1: 22 Elizabeth St, Croydon.

Red Door 2: 54 King William Rd, Goodwood.

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