My Basic Pancakes

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I’ve always loved pancakes. Growing up in the Philippines, we called them “hot cakes.” It was always a treat when we had them for breakfast, and it was always made with a mix. I still remember the red and white hot cake mix box, and I’m not even sure now if it was mixed with water or evaporated milk. I doubt we used fresh milk, since cow’s milk wasn’t really the childhood staple there that it is here.

And maple syrup? Finding out that “maple syrup” and “regular pancake syrup” were not interchangeable came as a big surprise to me. Then again, half the time, I used condensed milk on my hot cakes anyway, so I didn’t feel like I missed out.

I’m easy to please when it comes to pancakes. I just want them fresh, warm, and slightly sweet. I’m not picky when it comes to texture, because hey, I grew up on hot cake mix and water, remember? My son, on the other hand, sometimes has specific pancake needs. There was a time when he preferred them half-cooked (don’t ask). Then, all of a sudden, half-cooked was no good, and now he wanted the edges crispy. Then he started requesting pancake change-ups. “Surprise me,” he’d say.

Then I’d surprise him with toast instead.

Maybe that’s why he stopped requesting them. Hmmm. Anyway, I hadn’t made pancakes in a while, so I decided to whip up a batch this weekend. Nothing fancy, just your basic buttermilk pancakes. I made a huge stack that should have been enough to serve about 6 people. Instead, two boys inhaled every single one in about ten minutes.

Which left me with nothing for breakfast but toast. Ah, the irony of it all.

So I thought I’d share my go-to basic pancake recipe with you. It’s incredibly simple and easy, and a breeze to customize for any of those surprise “pancake change-up” requests. But trust me: as is, with no other adornment but perhaps a pat of butter and some syrup, this pancake can certainly stand proudly on its own.


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Basic Pancakes

(Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1-2 tablespoons sugar, to taste
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
a dash of salt

2 cups milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, left sitting for five minutes
1 egg
3 tablespoons melted butter

Mix the milk and lemon juice together and let sit for a few minutes to thicken. In the meantime, whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.

Whisk the egg and the cooled melted butter. Add to the milk and lemon juice mixture. Gently mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, just until combined. Do not over mix.

Cook pancakes as you normally would, using 1/4-cup scoops of batter.


  1. Replace the sugar with a couple of tablespoons of jelly or jam to flavor the pancakes.
  2. Sprinkle fruit onto the pancake as the first side cooks. Flip and finish cooking.
  3. Roll up the pancake and fill with whatever you feel like stuffing in it. Whipped cream and fruit, peanut butter and honey, coconut jam and butter, Nutella …

pancake dialogue

Yes, I make talking pancakes.

hot cake

Apparently, I’m going to have to explain the whole “hot cakes” concept to these clowns.


16 Responses to My Basic Pancakes
  1. Carolyn Jung
    February 22, 2010 | 9:26 pm

    Talking pancakes? I love it! Mine would be saying, “Have seconds. No wait, make it thirds!” ;)

    • ivoryhut
      February 22, 2010 | 9:38 pm

      Haha! I would have been glad to even get a first one yesterday! I couldn’t believe how quickly they all went. Usually, my first pancake is deformed, and I at least get to snack on that. Unfortunately, this time, a properly heated pan worked to my disadvantage.

  2. Kara
    February 22, 2010 | 9:44 pm

    Okay… even though I’m somewhat homemade pancake gun-shy (I won’t get into details but I somehow messed up a very simple homemade recipe a while back and decided that we were box mix types), I’m going to try these. I just love how the edges look crispy (no half-cooked here!) and for some reason, it seems that only pancakes of the homemade variety get that extra added goodness.

    • ivoryhut
      February 22, 2010 | 10:11 pm

      Okay, now I’m intrigued. :) But yes, do try these! They’re really good, and really simple to make.

  3. Melanie
    February 23, 2010 | 12:12 pm

    I think this is the first time I realized that you have children! I haven’t been a reader for that long, though. I love pancakes- and I haven’t had them in ages- and now I really, really want some. You always make food look so incredibly tantalizing!

    • ivoryhut
      February 23, 2010 | 6:42 pm

      Melanie, I call my son’s best friend my second son, and he sometimes calls me “mommy.” And when they hang out together, I never know what I’ll find in the kitchen sink when I get up in the morning. Once, there was a bowl that showed evidence of Caesar salad dressing, freshly ground pepper, and ice cream. I’ve learned not be surprised anymore. :)

  4. Cookie
    February 23, 2010 | 7:11 pm

    It’s funny how boys (or men) claim they don’t like sweets but then will eat an entire stack of pancakes with syrup! I grew up eating frozen pancakes, which I’m sure were much worse than Hot Cake Mix, so I’ve never been picky about them either. My go-to mix is Krusteaz but I’d much rather make them from scratch when I have the time. I can’t wait to give your a try!

  5. kanniduba
    February 24, 2010 | 7:08 am

    Crispy is the only way to go! Those fluffy ones they serve at restaurants just don’t do anything for me.
    Zan had never had a crispy-edged pancake until he met me, and I got the greatest compliment ever….”These are better than my sister’s!” And the Heavens opened and the angels sang…. ;)

  6. shalum
    February 27, 2010 | 8:52 am

    wow! i wish i can have hotcakes everyday. oh well. this is a lovely post. hot!:)

  7. Megan
    February 28, 2010 | 8:33 pm

    These pancakes look absolutely delicious-I love that first photo of all the syrup drizzled on top-YUM!

  8. Christy
    March 2, 2010 | 11:31 pm

    I love pancakes too and my children…who used to be small…are now big and they do the SAME thing to me…eat them all while I am still standing there like a street-side vendor pumping them out by the plate full. Then, I turn around and they are gone and I am left with my hot griddle, cold coffee and some measly leftover pancake. But, for whatever reason, I still love making them and if I’m really really fast – I love eating them too!

    BEAUTIFUL pictures….I wish you could just be my tutor…mine are still lacking and I can’t figure it out. I will certainly wear out my camera before I figure out exactly what I want to do with it! :)

  9. acdee
    March 3, 2010 | 10:15 am


    saw you at pw’s site and i was amazed really of what you told about a point and shoot..i am using one..amazing! and to know you are a filipina..and a contributor at pw photography!wow..
    my son, too, loves pancakes and he’s the sole reason why i make pancakes and tweak and tweak the recipe everytime so he doesn’t get bored…=)

    hope to reading more of your posts..=)

  10. Monica
    March 5, 2010 | 2:00 am

    Hello! I love your pictures and these pancakes look delicious! I think I’ll be having some of these for breakfast. I like crispy edges too! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  11. Kitchen Butterfly
    March 7, 2010 | 11:54 am

    We make pancakes……weekly in my home. Especially living in the Netherlands which is truly pancake country. I love making them with wholewheat flour – the nutiness is out of this world…I always throw in some yogurt, creme fraiche or sour cream…which ever is closest and I always let the batter rest. Lovely with maple syrup, sliced bananas and creme fraiche!

  12. Ade
    March 18, 2010 | 3:57 am

    Wow…yumm..I will try this recipe on my next pancake. Thanks :)

  13. Amanda N
    June 9, 2013 | 9:04 am

    Tried this out this morning and it was pretty good. Pancakes came out really thin. Question though, batter was very watery with lots of lumps…I assume that is how its supposed to be or should I have mixed it a little more?

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I write, cook, play music, and make pictures. Not necessarily in that order. I was born and raised in the Philippines, and it shows. That means I eat rice with every meal, love my cousins like my own siblings, and firmly believe that avocados are best eaten with cream and sugar.

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One summer night in 2010, our house burned to the ground and we lost everything we had. This is the story of what happened and how life and hope can always rise from ashes.