Pancake Day #1: Buttermilk Pancakes

Image of a stack of American pancakes drizzled with maple syrup and melted butter

I’m potty about pancakes and with Shrove Tuesday coming up it’s the perfect excuse to pig out. That’s what it was all about in the old days: the last chance to stuff yourself with gusset-busting goodies before the fasting and religious obligations of the penitential season of Lent.

So throw caution to the winds and break out the flour, eggs, milk, butter and sugar. You’ve got 40 days of Lent ahead of you to repent and atone.

Like many Brits, I grew up eating thin pancakes or crepes on Shrove Tuesday – hot from the pan and simply sprinkled with lemon juice and sugar. You can find a recipe for those – and a method of serving them filled and rolled as a main course – here.

But there are other ways of making pancakes and over the next couple of days I’m going to be looking at two of them – Chinese pancakes, stuffed full of roast duck and plum sauce and thick, fluffy, American-style pancakes, dripping with butter, drizzled with maple syrup and topped with crispy bacon.

Actually these are almost identical to what on this side of the Atlantic would be called Scotch pancakes or drop scones, eaten with butter and jam, or just with butter. But I like maple syrup and bacon and buttermilk so today we’re heading across the Pond in the company of Joy of Cooking

Buttermilk Breakfast Pancakes

  • Servings: makes about 20 x 9cm pancakes
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Image of pancake batter, maple syrup and baconIngredients:

210g plain flour

3 tbspn vanilla sugar, honey or maple syrup

1 1/2 tspn baking powder

1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tspn salt

375 ml buttermilk

45g butter, melted

2 eggs

1/2 tspn vanilla extract (optional)

To serve: streaky bacon, cooked until crisp; maple syrup and more butter


In a big bowl, mix together the flour, sugar (if using honey or maple syrup add them with the wet ingredients), baking powder, bicarb and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, eggs and vanilla extract, if using.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and gently whisk them together until you have a thick batter.

Melt a little butter on a flat griddle or in a frying pan and drop tablespoons of the mixture into the pan, trying for a circular formation.

Cook for about 3 minutes or until you see bubbles breaking the surface, which should mean the underside is now golden brown.

Image of pancake cooking, with bubbles rising

Flip them over and cook the other side for about 1 minute. Keep warm while you cook the rest.

Serve in a stack, with a dab of butter of top and drizzled with maple syrup. Top with crispy bacon. Eat. You’ll probably  need to lie down again afterwards.

Any leftover pancakes (who am I kidding?) can be sealed in an airtight container and frozen for up to a month. To reheat, brush each side with a little melted butter, put them in a single layer on a baking tray and warm through for about 10 minutes at 350F/180C/Gas Mark 4.

Image of a stack of pancakes topped with bacon

13 thoughts on “Pancake Day #1: Buttermilk Pancakes

  1. Ah, the American pancake – a thing of genius. I was also brought up on the thin British ones, but my family and I switched about five years ago, and we have never looked back. Every Sunday morning is (US) pancakes and maple syrup in my house. I always make them with milk though, so I will have to try your buttermilk version.

  2. Ooh, lovely, you can actually see them dripping in that top photo. I have to admit to being a bit of a lemon and sugar purist but they look lovely and I like the sound of the duck ones (roasted some duck legs on some plums the other days with soy sauce, cinnamon and star anise…yum).

  3. These look A LOT like the kind of pancakes we eat, although your recipe intrigues me because I’ve never seen sugar or maple syrup added to the batter before (we put all that stuff on top after we’ve cooked them). Shrove Tuesday! I think my Irish Catholic family skipped the pancakes and moved directly to Ash Wednesday to get the suffering started without any pause for pancakes. 🙂 Ken

    • Hi Ken, I got the basic recipe, as I think I mentioned, from Joy of Cooking but it’s very similar to what we’d call over here Scotch pancakes or griddle cakes, made without sugar and with milk in place of buttermilk.
      Luckily I had a fairly ecumenical upbringing so we didn’t really do the sackcloth and ashes thing – we just got to eat the pancakes. Result.

  4. I made these for pancake day, they were blooming brilliant, with apple and caramel sauce. I’m going to have to make more, since I have no other use for buttermilk

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