Like many families, ours is partial to the flavor of sourdough pancakes, primarily because of the yeasty taste. The problem is that we don’t always have sourdough starter to make the pancakes. Thankfully, there is a way to make beautiful pancakes that taste very much like sourdough pancakes. They simply utilize beer batter. You don’t even need to like drinking beer to use them since the beer is used in the place of water in the recipe, rather than for drinking purposes.
This is a ‘from-scratch’ recipe, but you might notice that it doesn’t contain the normal leavening; baking powder. This is to say that plain flour is used, rather than self-rising flour, like that in packaged pancake mix. There is a reason for this. The reason beer is actually a very healthy substance, very high in B vitamins, is because of the yeast. Yeast is still present in the beer, so if the recipe uses dry pancake mix or self-rising flour, the result is usually very thick pancakes. They taste great, but they need to be cooked a little differently than most pancakes, to make sure they aren’t doughy in the middle, but also not overcooked on the outside.
The main importance of this is that pancake batter shouldn’t be runny. This is a subjective term, but the batter should be semi-thick. If it is of the proper thickness and contains both yeast and non-yeast leavening, they usually rise so much that they need to be cooked at cooler temperatures for a longer period to avoid over-cooking. This can cause them to become a little rubbery.
Also note that for a healthier pancake, use whole grain flour or non-wheat flour, rather than bleached flour. All this said the recipe is simple.
Beer pancake ingredients:
2 cups flour
~ 12 ounces beer, any brand (and it can be flat)
1 large egg
1/2 cup dry milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon softened real butter
Beer pancake instructions:
1. Mix the dried ingredients together, then fold in the butter and egg.
2. Stir in the beer, a little at a time, until the consistency is fairly thick and the batter is a little lumpy. Let the batter sit for 15 minutes to a half-hour at room temperature, then stir the batter a final time.
3. Coat the inside of a skillet or frying pan with shortening, bacon grease, or olive oil; just enough to coat the pan but not enough that there is excess in the skillet/pan. Heat over medium heat until the pan is about 350 F.
4. Pour the batter by the ladleful onto the skillet or pan. Cook until tiny bubbles form and those within a quarter inch from the edge of the pancakes have burst, then flip the pancakes over and cook for an additional two to three minutes.
Tips for perfect pancakes:
Never over-mix pancake batter. It should only be mixed until it is blended. but there should still be small lumps in it. It should also be reasonably thick, not runny, and the pancakes should be cooked on a medium hot pan. If they are cooked too hot, the center can be uncooked when the pancakes are browned on both sides. if the heat is too cold or the batter is runny or over-mixed, the pancakes will usually end up rubbery. Rubbery pancakes are great for frisbees and for feeding chickens, but they are far from ideal for breakfast.
The tips come from years of working as a cook for a restaurant chain, now defunct, that was well known for having the best pancakes of any restaurant chain in the country. The key was in the tips I’ve offered here, rather than in the ingredients.
If you like sourdough pancakes, there is an excellent chance that you’ll love beautiful better beer batter pancakes. My family rants over them every time I make them. I usually make a double batch, simply because they are so well loved. That is great, though, because leftover pancakes are fantastic with peanut butter and jelly on them, so lunch is taken care of, too.