Sunday Morning’s Soured-Milk Pancakes, the Fluffiest

Having drunk oat milk all through the pandemic, a while ago we switched back to milk made the old-fashioned way. From a nearby organic dairy I buy 1% milk in economical half-gallon cartons (made of recycled materials, of course). I decant it into two one-quart glass bottles. Milk from a glass milk bottle tastes more delicious than from a carton, don’t you think? Maybe it reminds me of my young-mother days when three times a week a dear fellow named Mike in white Berkeley Farms coveralls brought milk, butter, and eggs up to our Panoramic Way front door….

Last week one of the glass bottles wasn’t rinsed so in a hurry I decanted some milk into a handsome spring-lock bottle. I quickly discovered the spring-lock wasn’t user-friendly and I kept avoiding using that milk. Guess what. Souring soured sourest. Oh dear.

I try hard not to waste food, so Saturday morning I said to Bill, “I know! I’ll make sour milk pancakes tomorrow for Todd.” “Great!” says he. Bill’s best friend Todd Newberry, Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, taught the first class at the brand new University of California Santa Cruz–then came up with the notion the school mascot should be a local critter: a banana slug…now well-loved by all. Todd joins us most Sundays for breakfast.

I found a recipe, made my alterations, the batter went together lickety-split. Baked the cakes on our biggest cast iron skillet. Start to finish, they were on the table in about 15 minutes.

My husband pronounced them, “The best pancakes yet!” Todd waved his fork, “Here! Here!”

They are marvelously fluffy.

I have the feeling I’ve given you a pancake recipe I said was the best. I lied. This one is!

Soured Milk* Makes the Fluffiest Pancakes
Makes 16 cakes…2 to 3 servings

2 cups all-purpose flour (lightly spooned into the cup)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups (12 ounces) soured milk
1/4 cup sunflower (or favorite mild) oil or melted butter; plus more for the skillet
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

The batter goes together in minutes, but it’s best if ingredients are at room temperature–eggs taken out of the fridge the night before, milk zapped a few seconds in the microwave.

In a largish bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together to blend.
In a smallish bowl, whisk the eggs till blended, then add the milk, oil, and vanilla and whisk till smooth.
Add the wets to the dries, whisk till blended — just a few small lumps here and there.
Set one or two large cast-iron or heavy-metal skillets over medium-high heat. Add oil or butter to lightly coat the surface.
When the fat sizzles, pour batter from a 1/4-cup measure for each cake.
When little bubbles form on the surface of a cake, use a pancake turner to turn it over. Bake another 2-3 minutes, then lift up to check that it’s golden beneath. Serve.

*Soured milk must be stored in the refrigerator, it has a long shelf life (I have half-a-bottle weeks old waiting its turn…).

No soured milk on hand? Make some in minutes: at the bottom of a 1-cup measure, place 1 tablespoon lemon juice or cider vinegar…pour sweet milk to the top of the measure, stir to blend then ignore for about 5 minutes while it clabbers (room temperature milk sours faster than cold).

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