If I'm going to eat something called blueberry pancakes, I want a sweet indigo marble to burst into a pool of tart flavor with every bite. Sadly, most pancakes I've come across that proudly proclaim their contents, are a far cry from the berry spangled pancake of my dreams. Devoid of flavor and with giant hollows carved out by flaccid watery berries that interfere more than enhance. Boxed mixes are in some ways worse, with an over-the-top "blueberry" flavor that reminds me of the Hubba Bubba bubblegum I used to chew as a kid.
My solution is to use wild blueberries. They tend to be much smaller than the commercial variety found in supermarkets and unlike their watery over-sized counterparts, they actually taste like blueberries. Fresh wild blueberries are only available in mid to late summer, in areas where they grow, but thankfully, most upscale grocery stores (like Whole Foods) sell frozen wild blueberries. This means you can always have them on hand for those times when you wake up with a serious craving for blueberry pancakes.
Speaking of sudden cravings, how many of you keep buttermilk in the fridge on a regular basis? Unless I'm making fried chicken or pancakes, I hardly ever keep it on hand, and it seems silly to buy a whole quart of buttermilk only to use a cup of it before it expires. Plain yogurt on the other hand is a regular in my fridge. That's why I make my pancakes with yogurt combined with a little milk. I love the tangy cheese-like(cream cheese, not cheddar) flavor the yogurt imparts and it keeps the pancakes delightfully moist.
One last trick I want to share with you for making the best pancakes possible is to use butter rather than oil in the batter. It infuses the whole pancake with flavor, and while you can always add another pat on top, it's really not necessary. Since butter tends to clump when mixed into cold ingredients, I whisk the melted butter and egg yolk together to form an emulsion that distributes more easily into the rest of the batter.
Because it's difficult to pour a lumpy batter evenly, most recipes will have you add the blueberries after you've poured the batter into the pan. The problem is that it's almost impossible to generously stud the pancakes with berries before they set. That's why I mix most of the blueberries into the batter and hold some aside to fill in the gaps. Your pancakes might not turn out perfectly round, but you'll have a less harried pancake making experience and you're guaranteed to get a blueberry in every bite!
- Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda. and salt in a medium bowl and whisk together.
- Put the butter in a small microwave-safe bowl and melt in the microwave. Let the butter cool slightly so it's no longer hot, but still liquid.
- Measure the milk and yogurt into a 2 cup liquid measuring cup, then add just the white from the egg. Whisk this mixture together until smooth.
- Add the yolk to the butter and whisk together until smooth.
- Pour the yolk and butter mixture into the milk mixture and whisk until smooth.
- Add half the blueberries to the flour mixture and toss together. If you're using frozen berries, do not let them defrost first, put them into the flour mixture straight out of the freezer.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients then gently mix together until just combined. It's okay if there are still a few small lumps of flour.
- Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat until hot. Pour a small amount of oil into the pan and use a wadded up paper towel to distribute a thin coating of oil evenly around the pan.
- Pour the batter into small pancakes around the pan. Quickly sprinkle some more blueberries onto each pancake to fill in the gaps and let the pancakes cook until the edges start to dry out, and you see large bubbles show up in the pancake. Flip the pancake over and cook until the other side is golden brown.
- Sprinkle with the remaining blueberries and serve with maple syrup.