Clinton St. Baking Company Pancakes

Here’s the secret of our pancakes. Neil discovered early on in the bakery’s existence that if he applied his French techniques — that is, you make a batter lighter by folding in whites — the batter gets lighter but retains the springy resiliency that makes for a proper pancake. Another key to magnificent pancakes is to avoid overmixing, which makes them tough.

A common mistake many cooks make is they don’t heat the griddle enough, which is why the first pancake is usually a dud. Make sure the griddle is very hot, then put the butter on. Use just enough so that the pancake doesn’t stick. Either a teaspoon or a tablespoon is fine.–DeDe Lahman

LC Better than Buttermilk Pancakes Note

We swoon to these ethereally light, slightly sweet, burnished brown hotcakes for many reasons, among them the lovely traits we just mentioned. Yet there’s another crucial reason to keep this quite memorable recipe from the venerable Clinton St. Baking Company handy–at least if you, like us, tend toward a little a.m. laziness. And it has everything to do with buttermilk–or rather, the lack thereof. We’ve got nothing against the slight tang buttermilk imparts to pancakes, although we do groan at the thought of running out to the market those mornings when the craving strikes and we’ve forgotten to replenish our stash of powdered buttermilk. The fact that this recipe relies on regular milk rather than buttermilk is just one more reason to love it. We don’t miss the buttermilk at all. Honestly.

Clinton St. Baking Company Pancakes Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 35 M
  • Makes 18 to 20 3-inch pancakes

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, unmelted for the griddle and lots more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Maple syrup, for serving

Directions

  • 1. Measure the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt into a large bowl.
  • 2. In another bowl, whisk together the yolks, milk, melted butter, and vanilla until combined. Slowly whisk the wet mixture into the dry mixture just until combined. The resulting should be slightly lumpy yet still combined.
  • 3. Whip the egg whites by hand with a whisk or in the bowl of an electric mixer until they reach medium peaks. You can whip them by hand with a whisk or place them in the bowl of an electric mixer. (Peaks are “soft” when you put your finger in the whites and they fall over. Peaks are “medium” when you put your finger in and they drip over a bit and stand up. “Stiff” peaks develop when you whip the whites longer and they stay up.) You don’t want to overwhip the egg whites.
  • 4. Gently fold half of the whipped whites into the batter with a large rubber spatula. Then gently fold the remaining whites into the batter. Remember, this batter should be slightly lumpy and have large parts of egg whites not fully incorporated and should look like whitecaps in the ocean with foam on top. (The batter will last a few hours in the fridge without deflating too much.)
  • 5. Heat a griddle — either an electric griddle, a stovetop griddle, or a big flat skillet — over medium to medium-low heat. Grease the hot surface with a teaspoon or so of the remaining butter. Drop 1/4 cup of pancake batter on the griddle. Now let it set. When you see bubbles start to form on top, lift the pancake halfway up to see if it’s golden brown and crisp at the edges. If it is, flip the pancake and cook until golden brown on both sides. Remove to a plate with a spatula.
  • 6. Repeat with the remaining batter and filling, adding more butter to the griddle as needed and cooking several pancakes at a time. Serve immediately with ample butter and maple syrup.

Variations

  • If desired, you can sprinkle 1 tablespoon fresh or frozen blueberries or a couple slices banana and 1 teaspoon chopped walnuts onto the pancakes before turning them. Never add the fruit to the batter; always add the fruit to the pancakes once they’re on the griddle. Garnish with confectioners’ sugar for the blueberry pancakes, cinnamon sugar for the banana-walnut.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Dan Kraan

Mar 07, 2011

These pancakes have a very light texture—almost like a regular cake. They’re soft, slightly sweet, and seem to rise a bit more than the common pancake. I didn’t try either of the optional fillings, instead using maple syrup and fresh butter. It was still quite nice! I got closer to thirty 3-inch pancakes, instead of twenty. I’m not sure why only two teaspoons of butter are called for in the cooking part of the process, as all of the butter disappeared after the first few pancakes. But my griddle itself was seasoned, so sticking wasn’t a problem.

Testers Choice
Leanne Abe

Mar 07, 2011

I don’t know if it’s the 1 tablespoon of baking powder or the whipped egg whites (or both), but these are the fluffiest pancakes I’ve had in a long time. They’re also full of flavor, and have a good chew. This is more butter than I typically add to my pancake batter, but as a tradeoff, I didn’t need to butter the finished pancakes. I made both plain and banana-walnut pancakes, and both were great. I usually keep finished pancakes in the oven to keep them warm until we’re ready to eat, but these are best when eaten right off the griddle. If you can time them this way, I highly recommend it.

Testers Choice
Sandy Hill

Mar 07, 2011

These were so light and airy, and they didn’t deflate upon hitting the plate. Whipping the whites and adding them to the batter made these pancakes so delicious, and not at all heavy. All of the whipping and heating tips were descriptive and helpful. I did add more butter to my griddle, however, when cooking the pancakes—about 1 tablespoon for each batch. We served them with just warm butter and maple syrup. It was a delicious breakfast—a reason to get up in the morning!

Testers Choice
Karen Depp

Mar 07, 2011

These pancakes are sweet, flavorful, and as light as air. If you’re inclined, you can eat them with no additional syrup, sugar dusting, or fresh fruit! Yep, they’re just that good. TIP: When cooking, I’d go with however you usually cook pancakes rather than following the instructions—having no griddle, I tried three different skillets and got three different results. My smoke alarm went off during the first batch, as the butter immediately started smoking at that high temperature. I changed pans, lowered the heat, and made them the way I usually do—and they were perfect. I halved the recipe and, using a 1/4 cup scoop, I got 14 pancakes of perfect 4-inch diameter size.

Testers Choice
Kristen Kennedy

Mar 07, 2011

Whoa! Where have these been all my life? I grew up on Bisquick pancakes that are a far cry from what I just made here. These have the most delicious texture—soft, dense, moist, crisp, and simply mouth-watering! My son will be growing up on these! I halved this recipe and it worked perfectly. Also, I used a Circulon pan so there was no need to butter the pan. I figured with all the butter in the recipe, it wouldn’t be missed and it wasn’t.

Comments
Comments
  1. RisaG says:

    These look excellent. I am always looking for a better pancake recipe. I will try these and see how I like them. Normally, even with whipping egg whites and folding them in, my pancakes come out pretty flat. I hope these are really light and fluffy.

    • Dan Kraan, LC Community Moderator says:

      They do come out very light, Risa. Let us know how you fared.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Let us know how it goes, RisaG! We were woo’d by these. Light and fluffy are just two of the nice things we had to say about them…

  2. Stephanie says:

    My editor at Little, Brown sent me a copy of this book. It was love at first flapjack.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Love at first flapjack! Love that, Stephanie. Um, may I borrow that sometime?

  3. Nikki says:

    Do you think the results would be the same if I omitted the salt or at least cut it down to a 1/4 teaspoon? I’m on a salt restricted diet. I will try it and report back.

    • David Leite says:

      Hi Nikki, salt acts as a flavor boosters, so the flavor might be a tiny bit muted. But if you’re on a salt-restricted diet, that comes first. Do let us know what you think.

      • Nikki says:

        David,

        I made the pancakes yesterday and they were delicious! I made a few changes though. When recipes call for sugar I like to use honey instead because of its better nutritional profile, I added about a cup of malt powder and I used some buttermilk that I had to use up before it spoiled, I had to use a little bit more of the buttermilk to make up for the extra cup of malt. I did not add any salt since the malt and the buttermilk has enough sodium as it is and the omission of the salt did not affect the flavor because the vanilla and honey gave it a good flavor. I usually use extra virgin coconut oil in place of butter to eliminate the cholesterol but I used the butter for this batch. This is the first time I have ever whipped the egg whites and it really made a difference in the fluffiness of the pancakes so I will be doing that from now on.

        • David Leite says:

          Nikki, your version sounds wonderful. And thanks for being so specific, that way if other readers wish to make your version, they can.

  4. Hera says:

    I love these pancakes!! They were light, airy, very cakelike!! Honestly I didn’t even want to add maple syrup to mine, they were good on their own. My family liked them as well!! Next time I am going to make these and maybe add some blueberries!! It will be amazing! Yum!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Hera, so glad to hear that you had the same reaction that we did! And swell suggestion on the blueberries—my 11-year-old nephew will love that. Thanks for taking the time to drop us a note about your new tradition….

  5. Susan Gaffney-Evans says:

    I made these this morning for brunch and we loved them! Worth the extra effort of whipping the egg whites and foldiing them in. We topped them with maple syrup and a mix of organic blueberries, blackberries, and sliced peaches. Yum! Yum!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Many thanks for letting us know, Susan! Both the texture and the taste are really something else, aren’t they?! Now we’re craving them….

  6. ruthie says:

    My grandmother folded whipped egg whites into everything! Her cakes, pancakes and so on were so light. She even did that with her tapioca and rice puddings, making them much more appealing. I’ve lost her pancake recipe, but I will be happy to give this one a try to see if I can match Grandma’s. ;)

    My mother OTOH loved thick, heavy sourdough flapjacks. LOL! Go figure.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Funny how people—mothers and daughters in particular—are often equally passionate and yet in exactly opposite ways, right, ruthie? I’ve used the whipped egg whites trick for years in pancakes and to me it makes all the difference, so I have to say, I’m squarely in your and your grandmother’s camp. My mom, on the other hand, swoons to thin Dutch baby-like cakes. Go figure!

  7. Nicholle C. says:

    My husband has made me promise that I will never try another pancake recipe after making this one. For me it wasn’t just the pancakes but the maple butter (recipe is in same book from Clinton St.) that was the clincher. I can’t remember the last time I shamelessly licked my plate clean, but that maple butter was heaven! =)

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Love to hear that, Nicholle C.! It’s a swell cookbook, is it not?! And we can understand your husband’s request, we feel exactly the same.

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