Blueberry buttermilk pancakes with blueberry balsamic syrup
Man, do I ever love me a good Sunday brunch. And this is a good Sunday brunch. The Americans are really on to something with the use of buttermilk in pancakes — the faintly tart taste gives them a lot more depth of flavour.
The original pancake recipe came to me via Smitten Kitchen; this version has been lightly adapted to use UK units and pack sizes. It makes 8-10 four-inch pancakes, serving two to four people depending on appetite.
For the pancakes:
- 140 g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 300 ml buttermilk (one standard supermarket pot)
- 55 ml milk
- 30 g unsalted butter, melted
- 100 g fresh blueberries (half a standard supermarket punnet)
Stir together the dry ingredients in one bowl, and in another beat the egg with the buttermilk and milk. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet, then whisk in the melted butter. Smitten Kitchen claims you don’t need to be too fussy about the whisking because a few small lumps won’t hurt; I’ve never noticed any ill effects.
Fry the pancakes in batches, pouring four-inch circles of batter into a pan lined with a little melted butter over a lowish heat. Immediately after pouring out each pancake, scatter some fresh blueberries over, pushing them down into the batter. It’s much easier to evenly distribute the blueberries this way than how most recipes work, which suggest you whisk the blueberries into the batter.
Cook the pancakes lower and slower than you would for thin British style pancakes, to give the leavening time to rise and the batter time to cook through. They’re ready to flip once the underside is golden, the edges are cooked through, and the still-liquid top is covered in plenty of bubbles. There’s some more tips on technique in that Smitten Kitchen post.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, make the syrup:
- 100 g fresh blueberries (the other half of your punnet)
- 2 Tbsp demerara sugar, or more to taste (I like 2.5 Tbsp)
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1 tsp ground arrowroot made into a paste with 1 tsp water
Bring berries, sugar, syrup, and water to a simmer over a low heat for five or so minutes. The blueberries should pop and thicken the syrup up. Add the arrowroot and thicken further to your preference. (Pectin would probably be the more logical choice here, but I hardly ever have that to hand.) You can use cornflour instead of arrowroot but that can make the syrup taste a little floury.
Serve the pancakes with the syrup and, for the full American diner effect, fried streaky bacon.
Update: my friend Dan adds:
Another big advantage of buttermilk is that its acid reacts with the baking soda to release CO2 which adds fluffiness. Also: try using 2 parts flour, 1 part medium-ground yellow cornmeal.