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There’s no debating that a cast iron skillet is the best vehicle for cooking pancakes—nothing holds heat as well, which is essential for achieving an evenly browned surface. But the best recipe for pancakes? For us, that’s the one we can remember without having to look it up every time we want to make a stack.

Our favorite buttermilk pancake recipe only requires you to remember two numbers: 1 and 2. The batter uses 1 teaspoon each of baking powder, baking soda, and salt; then 2 of everything else: 2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons butter, and 2 cups buttermilk.

Field Notes

1.

No buttermilk? You can substitute 1⅓ cups yogurt + ⅔ cup milk or 1 cup sour cream + 1 cup milk for the 2 cups of buttermilk.

2.

Thickness is everything when it comes to perfect pancake batter. You want it to be slightly lumpy (not overmixed), and just thin enough to pour, but not runny. And for some mystical reason, the exact same batter recipe will vary slightly in texture from batch to batch, so you might need to add a touch more buttermilk to thin it to the right consistency. When the batter hits the hot skillet, it should spread out a little bit, then hold its shape.

3.

Resting the batter is also very important; it gives the dry ingredients a moment to soak up the wet, which smooths out most lumps and results in fluffier pancakes.

4.

Dialing in the heat of your skillet might take a test pancake or two. You want them to cook quickly enough that the bottom side is golden brown by the time you begin to see bubbles forming and popping on the surface. After you flip the pancakes, the second side should take a bit less time to cook.

Recipe

Ones and Twos Buttermilk Pancakes

Yield: About 16 pancakes
Photo: Lauren V. Allen

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups buttermilk, plus more as needed
Vegetable oil, for frying

Instructions

1.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until foamy, then slowly whisk in the butter. Add the buttermilk and whisk to combine.

2.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, whisk until just combined (the batter will be somewhat lumpy, which is just fine); don’t overmix or the pancakes will be flat and tough. If the batter seems too thick (it should be just thin enough to pour, rather than plop, from a ladle), thin it out with some buttermilk.

3.

Let the batter rest while you preheat a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Lightly oil the skillet, either by adding a small drizzle and spreading it with a paper towel or brushing it with a pastry brush.

4.

Use a ladle or measuring cup to add ¼ cupfuls of batter to the skillet, making sure to leave space between the pancakes. Cook the pancakes until bubbles start to form and break on the surface, about 2 minutes. Using your thinnest spatula, flip the pancakes over and continue cooking until golden brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter, lightly greasing the skillet between batches, and adjusting the heat up or down as needed.

5.

Serve the pancakes and your favorite toppings right away, or keep warm in a 200°F oven until ready to serve.