Light and Fluffy Pancakes

The secret to these light and fluffy pancakes from Clinton Street Bakery are whipped egg whites–plus plenty of melted butter–folded into the batter. The pancakes of your breakfast dreams.

Three light and fluffy pancakes on a griddle

We swoon to these ethereally light, slightly sweet, burnished brown hotcakes for many reasons. Mostly for those adjectives we just strung together. Yet there’s another crucial reason to keep this quite memorable recipe 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.

Another reason we love these pancakes? It relies on the old baking trick of folding whipped egg whites into pancake batter. They become airier yet retain a springy resiliency that makes for a proper pancake. Originally published March 7, 2011.Renee Schettler Rossi

How To Make Certain That First Pancake Isn't A Dud Note

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.

Light and Fluffy Pancakes

  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 35 M
  • Makes 18 to 20 3-inch pancakes
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star5/5 - 4 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook cookbook

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Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (6 oz), 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.

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Recipe Testers Reviews

These fluffy 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 2 teaspoons 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.

I don’t know if it’s the 1 tablespoon baking powder or the whipped egg whites (or both), but these are the lightest and 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 trade-off, I didn’t need to butter the finished pancakes. I made 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.

These pancakes were so light and fluffy, 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!

These fluffy pancakes are sweet, flavorful, and as light as air. If you’re so inclined, you can eat them without syrup; just a dusting of sugar and fresh fruit. Yep, they’re that good! When cooking, I’d go with however you usually cook pancakes rather than following the instructions. Having no griddle, I tried 3 different skillets and got 3 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.

Whoa! Where have these incredibly light and fluffy pancakes 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 mouthwatering! 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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

  3. 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!

    1. 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….

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

    1. 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!

  6. 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! =)

  7. My mother always made pancakes this way, as do I, which is why I rarely order pancakes if eating out for breakfast or brunch. Sometimes I switch out some of the flour for cornmeal, and the pancakes are just as delicious. I’m getting hungry….

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