So two weekends ago, Erik and I had some un-amazing pancakes from Magnolia Café. It was disappointing, but I got over it because it was an awesome trip that included meeting up with the lovely Melissa of Sterling and Oats at my place of weakness! (She’s so bubbly and has this super talented artist boyfriend and this cute hipster Austin life (according to my subjective impressions) and dreams of selling cakes out of her house and I really want her to do it!! Also, I recently made her arepas and they.are.delicious.)
At Magnolia, Erik and I split three pancakes (purely for scientific sampling purposes): a buttermilk with strawberries and chocolate chips (tasted like a mix), a plain cornmeal (good flavor and nicely textured, but thin) and a plain whole wheat (grain-riddled, the thickest and cakiest of the three, but almost on the verge of chewy).
Needless to say, Magnolia’s pancake was left slumping the shadows of other, greater pancake giants. And in my kitchen, I was more determined than ever to make a really good, restaurant-quality pancake. I’ve been making pancakes like it’s my job for nearly a year and I still haven’t attained that perfect restaurant-quality pancake. I’m sensing a pancake throwdown on the horizon.
But for now, I’m reading up on cornstarch. And apparently, cornstarch “adds structure while increasing tenderness” to baked goods and “helps contribute to light crust after frying.” It sounded like a promising application for pancakes, so I gave it a shot.
I followed Lindsay’s basic whole wheat pancake recipe and added a tablespoon of cornstarch to half the batter. Did it make a difference? Barely, but yes. These are very solid, hearty yet light pancakes that hold up well to toppings. Flavor-wise, I couldn’t taste a strong difference. However, in a blind-tasting, Erik immediately detected a corn flavor in the cornstarch pancake while dubbing the other one the “vanilla pancake” because he thought it was really vanilla-y (even though both pancakes had identical amounts of vanilla).
Texture-wise, the cornstarch pancake turned out slightly thicker, denser, and very slightly spongier while the original recipe pancake remained thinner and airier—almost lacey with air holes.
More pancake trials to follow, but moral of the story: if you want denser, slightly cakier pancakes, add cornstarch. The cornstarch pancakes were also cooked second, which allowed the batter to sit and thicken for longer, so if you want thicker pancakes, let the batter rest for a bit.
Also, do you SEE what is on those pancakes? Maple yogurt is the answer to everything. Dilute that sugary maple goodness and get some PROTEIN with your carbs! Delicious.
Boyfriend rating: 8.5
Erik’s comments: “I know you might not have been quite as in love with them..but I honestly don’t see how they could be much better…loved the twinge of vanilla!”
These basic whole wheat pancakes are fluffy and airy and can be made denser and cakier with the addition of cornstarch.
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- scant 1/2 cup yogurt + 1/2 cup milk (or 1 scant cup buttermilk)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch, optional (if you want cakier pancakes)
- For the maple yogurt:
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1-4 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
- Combine syrup and yogurt: stir, stir, stir! It may look chunky at first, but will soon smooth into the most delicious, perfect pancake topping. I used a 1:4 ratio of syrup to yogurt, but use more syrup if you like it sweeter.
Whisk together the egg, sugar, yogurt mixture, vanilla and oil. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and cornstarch, if using. Stir until just combined--a few lumps are good.
Let the batter stand for five minutes to thicken while you begin heating a skillet over medium heat. When pan is hot, lightly grease the pan with half a teaspoon or so of oil and drop batter into pan a 1/4 cup at a time. Once bubbles begin to rise to the surface and spatula easily slides under the bottom of the pancake, flip and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove and lower the heat to medium-low to cook remaining pancakes. Top with drippy spoonfuls of maple syrup and get yourself to pancake heaven!
Adapted from Pinch of Yum