This weekend I attempted Pancake Experiment Mark I, my ongoing quest to find a buttermilk pancake recipe that hopes to come within sight of the glory that is the Perkins pancake. Mark I did not succeed, but it was nevertheless a step in the right direction. For reference, Mark I is basically a heavily modified form of Alpha, cut in half, using 60% cake flour, no baking powder, and more sugar and salt. I’ll compare by quality.
Lightness: Mark I was the winner hands down. These pancakes were a bit light, although I feel they could have been quite a bit lighter (per my eventual goal). Alpha was much too dense and heavy, so in the sense that Mark I was an improvement, this was a success.
Flavor: Again Mark I won, no surprises, but mostly because Alpha failed so badly. Mark I didn’t have a bad flavor, but because I was afraid to overmix (I should have been less afraid, with so much cake flour), there was still a tiny bit of uncooked flour taste lingering. More concerning was that the higher sugar content was noticeable; my instinct that more sugar was probably wrong turned out correct. It was still better than Alpha even so. However I think the salt was still underwhelming. The lovely buttermilk flavor I was hoping for was also absent.
Fluffiness: These pancakes rose remarkably well. They ended up thinner than Alpha, which was a good thing, but they were actually still thicker than I would have liked. They weren’t quite fluffy, though. I’ve heard of some people separating their egg yolks and whites and then folding in the well-foamed whites for better fluffiness, but I’m positive Perkins doesn’t do that and darned if I’m gonna do it either.
Surface: Alpha and Mark I both came out even on the surface score, which is to say they’re still way too close to Bisquick pancakes. The first side down forms a kind of light crust, instead of being diaphanous and delicate like the Perkins pancake.
Batter thickness: Again my fear of overmixing screwed me here, because some parts of the batter were a little thick and others a little too thin, so I never did actually need to add milk to thin it. I think the thickness of the batter came out just right other than in consistency.
So these are my takeaways:
- I need more salt. The ¼ tsp. in Mark I just doesn’t cut it.
- I need no sugar. Any sweetness in the target must be coming from the buttermilk.
- I need more buttermilk flavor without thinning the batter too much. Inasmuch as buttermilk isn’t all that thin, even though I’m using reconstituted stuff, I suspect I can just add more.
- I need to ditch the all-purpose flower. I suspect Perkins doesn’t use straight cake flower, but it’s clear that all-purpose flower is my enemy here. What I’m wondering now is if Perkins also mixes in some other kind of flour, such as rice flour, which would change the flavor along with other properties. Mark II will need to use cake flour, and I can try mixing in others in later experiments.
So that’s how Mark I finished up. It made for decent pancakes, lighter than Bisquick but still not as good, and nowhere near Perkins. The quest is ongoing. But for the nearer future, I’ll be making cheese balls.