Some of the art of making great pancakes is simple common sense: measure your ingredients carefully, sift your flour to reduce the lumps, don't over-mix the batter. And for heaven's sake, only flip each pancake once!
Once you've mastered the most basic techniques, however, there's room to bring your craft to the next level. Take this advice from five celebrity chefs who have a thing or two to say about the perfect pancake.
Alton Brown: Two Kinds of Flour
While virtually every pancake recipe out there calls for all-purpose flour, celebrity chef Alton Brown suggests using a mixture of all-purpose flour and cake flour. His version involves a rough 2:1 ratio of all-purpose flour to cake flour.
The best thing about Alton's method is that you can easily make this adjustment to your current pancake recipe without changing your technique. This tiny alteration will improve the consistency of your batter and make for light, fluffy pancakes.
Note: Alton Brown isn't the only one using cake flour in his pancakes. Check out this deliciously tempting 100% cake flour pancake recipe from The Pioneer Woman!
Gordon Ramsay: Separate Yolks & Whites
Your favorite cranky Scot wants to make your pancake recipe more difficult. But don't be so quick to dismiss this pro tip from Gordon Ramsay; it's no kitchen nightmare and it'll make your pancakes unbelievably fluffy.
The technique? Separate your egg whites from your egg yolks. Whisk the yolks in with the rest of your wet ingredients. Then combine the wet and the dry as you normally would. (Don't over-mix!) In "an extremely clean bowl, free of fat," whisk your egg whites to stiff peaks—like you would for a meringue or soufflé. Then gently fold the egg whites into your batter.
Mario Batali: Brown Sugar
For famed chef and restauranteur Mario Batali, pancakes literally have a secret ingredient: brown sugar. He gives all credit to his sons, whose Sunday morning pancakes make for instant family joy.
You can't just throw the brown sugar in, though. Mario says that to get it right, you have to have a little more technique than that: "When you are done whisking the batter, crumble two tablespoons of brown sugar on top and barely mix it in." It's all in the wrist.
Jamie Oliver: The Right Temperature
This may seem like common sense, but too many pancakes suffer a common fate: burnt on the outside and raw on the inside. To help you find that perfect temperature for your pan or griddle, Jamie Oliver recommends a simple trick of the trade: water.
In his "Top Tips" for all-American pancakes, Oliver writes:
To tell if the griddle is hot enough, add in a few drops of water and if it bounces across it for a second or two before evaporating the pan is at the right temperature.
Paula Deen: Oil & Butter
Paula Deen has gotten a lot of grief for her lavish use of butter and her generally unhealthy (but admittedly delicious) recipes. So, it might surprise you to learn that Paula's recommendation for greasing the griddle is actually healthier than most.
Think you can just use a mixture of oil and butter and throw it down? Think again. Paula tells you to use a clean paper towel to wipe the griddle or pan with a "neutral oil" like canola. Then, lightly brush a small amount of melted butter on top of that. Between batches, repeat your oil-wiping, butter-brushing process.