Fat Tuesday ranks very high on my son Bennett's "favorite days of the year" list. One simple reason: We participate in the centuries-old custom of having pancakes on Mardi Gras, a tradition born out of the fact that pancakes use up rich foods (think sugar, eggs and milk) before the 40 days of fasting associated with Lent.
No dinner turns our kitchen into more of a disaster zone than Fat Tuesday pancakes. Everyone wants in on the prep. Batter and melted butter end up everywhere. Counters and kitchen chairs get sticky with syrup. Clean-up takes forever. But it's all part of the tradition and the fun.
Every year we use the same yellowed newspaper clipping, given to me years ago by my mom, featuring a "Buttermilk Flapjacks" recipe from James Oseland's The New Comfort Food cookbook. These pancakes are a tad laborious. They're definitely decadent. And they're positively heavenly, with a just-right center and a buttery-crisp edge.
We've made tiny tweaks to the recipe over the years, which I've noted below. Enjoy!
(Adapted from the "Buttermilk Flapjacks" recipe in The New Comfort Food cookbook. Makes about 8 pancakes)
2 c. flour
2 tbsp. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. fine sea salt
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided, plus more (We've forgotten to buy unsalted butter in the past and therefore cut back slightly on the amount of sea salt)
2 c. buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (Original recipe calls for 1 tsp. of vanilla extract but we like the flavor of using a tiny bit more)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Serve with: powdered sugar, pure maple syrup, fresh berries, freshly whipped cream (Original recipe just calls for maple syrup, which is a purist's way to eat pancakes — we like adding more good stuff!)
- Mix together dry ingredients.
- Melt 4 tbsp butter. In a medium bowl, mix together melted butter, buttermilk, vanilla extract and eggs.
- Whisk buttermilk mixture into flour mixture. Mix as little as possible. You want a thick batter. Lumps are ok!
- Heat skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp butter and heat till its foam subsides. Use a soup ladle to pour 1/2 cup of batter into pan. When you see lots of tiny bubble on the surface, flip the pancake. The goal is a golden-brown pancake on both sides. Repeat process till you use up all that batter. It's definitely best to serve these pancakes right away, which is what we do, but if you want everyone to enjoy their pancakes at the same time, keep them warm in a 200º oven by setting them on a wire rack placed on a cookie sheet. Don't stack the individual pancakes; they'll get soggy and sticky.