For such a timeless and beloved breakfast treat, pancakes can be tricky to get just right. Countless recipes claim to be the absolute best, but I was especially intrigued by one that includes an unusual ingredient to achieve fluffy perfection.
Acclaimed chef J. Kenji López-Alt explained on SeriousEats that cutting back a bit on buttermilk and swapping in a hefty dollop of sour cream can be a pancake game-changer. Yes, you read that correctly: sour cream. “It’s both less moist than buttermilk and more sour, which allows me to add acidity without watering down the batter,” López-Alt writes. It makes sense: A less watery batter should create a less dense pancake.
Plus, as someone who usually prefers food on the savory side, I wondered if this would also cut back on the sweetness of traditional pancakes. I do like eating them topped with peanut butter (or going rogue with some hot sauce), but I hoped this method would help nip the saccharine levels even more than toppings alone. There is just a tablespoon of sugar involved in the recipe, which isn’t really a lot. So with all of that in mind, I decided to dive in and give these sour cream-ified flapjacks a shot.
The recipe calls for adding a cup of sour cream in with one and a half cups of buttermilk, four tablespoons melted butter, and two egg yolks before folding in two whipped egg whites. Then, add all of that to a dry mixture of two cups all purpose flour, a teaspoon baking powder, half a teaspoon baking soda, teaspoon salt, and the previously mentioned tablespoon of sugar. Once all of that is mixed together (“there should still be plenty of lumps”), you’re ready to start pouring and flipping.
I’ll be honest: I can’t remember the last time I made pancakes from scratch, this experiment might have been the first time ever. But when you see my results, you’ll understand why I’m giving up boxed mixes for good.
Apparently, I’m kind of a genius when it comes to these golden brown discs of breakfast beauty! OK, sure, having a great recipe to work with may have helped me achieve these pristine pancakes, but just take a look at how light and fluffy they are.
I think I might need to frame these photos for my kitchen. Alright, enough patting my own back. You’re probably wondering if the taste lived up to the looks. If I hadn’t watched myself put sour cream into the batter, I wouldn’t have known it was there.
Don’t get me wrong, these definitely had a richer flavor than the pancakes I’ve had in the past, but not in a way that screams “sour cream.” This recipe is ideal for someone like me who likes to add savory toppings, but who also might share them with someone with more of a sweet tooth.
The next time you get a craving for pancakes, I totally recommend giving this sour cream twist a shot!