I've been working on perfecting my pancaking technique. The secret, in short, is to treat them like cake. Here are a few tips that I've found helpful:
- Use butter (softened, not melted)
- Beat the butter, then beat in the sugar, then beat in the egg
- Alternate mixing in milk and flour / baking powder mixture
I just like butter because it tastes better and isn't soy-based. The order of butter-sugar-egg is important, the pancakes turn out much lighter if you do this (though the batter may look less appealing until it's cooked). The odd bit about alternating milk and flour must have to do with mixing the flour with the butter-sugar-egg stuff rather than with the milk. The really crazy thing is that Dad's pancakes usually come out better than mine, no matter how I try. I guess there's no substitute for experience.
I've thought about using a non-aluminum baking powder, but I haven't tried it yet. The non-aluminum kinds are supposed to be liquid activated only (that's why the aluminum kind are called double-acting, both liquid and heat). Sometimes I think I can taste the aluminum.
I also make a point of placing the most recently cooked side of the pancake down when I pull them off the griddle. If you don't do that then one side of the cake will be crispy and the other soft (Rebecca doesn't like that). The appearance is also better on the first cooked side (which then is the side that's up).
Another thing to try is Egg Nog Pancakes. Just use egg nog instead of milk (you may need more milk for this to work). These come out a little heavier than they do with milk, but they taste great.
Jeremy was the one who discovered for us that the best way to make a choco-pancake is to use chocolate milk. Just adding cocoa won't do it.
Mom once made us pancakes with creamed corn in them. She said she had opened the wrong can. Pancakes don't use any canned ingredients... we are all still confused. The creamed-corn-cakes weren't all that bad.