A universal truth about pancakes is that they are always better made at home than ordered at a restaurant. Maybe it's because brunch cooks have enough going on juggling egg orders to pay attention to pancakes. I get it. But it's also probably why brunch pancakes are almost always big and leaden, which makes me feel as if I need a nap after eating them. When you make them at home, you can control the variables, adding spices (or not), using better forms of flour, and adding fruit to use up what's in the fridge (or freezer).
We had buckets of rain all weekend, which was reason enough to stay home and make pancakes instead of braving brunch somewhere. But it also meant that I wasn't going to go to the store to get ingredients. We'd work with what we had. This meant no buttermilk or yogurt. If I wanted to make pancakes, I'd have to use the bottle of kefir that I'd been holding onto for too long instead.
To come clean on kefir: I'm still warming up to it. I understand its benefits, but I've tasted various kefir products with mixed results. I just generally prefer yogurt when it comes to that kind of fermented dairy, and I've also stopped eating much dairy. Plus, the last time I used kefir when making breakfast (for these whole-grain waffles), it made the results so sour that I wished I had added more sugar to the batter. Some of that had to do with the type of kefir I was using—Clover plain kefir. This time, I had Wallaby plain kefir in the fridge. It had already been there for a couple of months, but this stuff seems to last forever (despite what the sell-by date says). Out of the bottle, it was definitely mellower. Too mellow? I'd find out.
I wondered if I could use it in place of yogurt in these pancakes, which I've made and liked. And then I found this recipe from The Kitchn, which seemed to be pretty similar. The version I made is similar, although with less leavening agent (baking powder and/or soda). I figured that there was no need to include baking powder, since baking soda would be enough on its own (it would react with the acid in the kefir).
For the flour, I sometimes like to mix and match, but this time all I used was the whole-wheat flour from Community Grains It's really, really good. Milled from the whole grain instead of only part of it, it retains the nutrients that made wheat so good for us before we lost them along the way. (And no, I'm not being paid to say this—it's just my favorite flour for baking these days. I do store it in the freezer, like I do with all whole grain flours, to prevent it from going rancid.)
In the end, this version of kefir pancakes worked really well. There was just enough tang to make them interesting but they were also light without making me hungry an hour later. I even found some blueberries in the freezer and added them at the last minute. Would I make these again? Yes! -- as early as next weekend. And I wouldn't give up on the Clover kefir. But I may try to make it with more spices and orange zest to round out the flavors.
Silver Dollar Kefir Pancakes
* I've made these in two different batch sizes so you can adjust depending on how many you're trying to feed. If your batter is a bit thick, add a little
**To add blueberries, sprinkle the berries (fresh or frozen) on top of each pancake right after pouring the batter onto the griddle.
For 2-3 Servings (about 12 small pancakes)
- 1 cup (145 g) whole-wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon (12 g) brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Dash or two cinnamon
- 1 1/4 cup kefir, at or close to room temperature
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted, plus extra for oiling the griddle
For 4-5 Servings (about 24 small pancakes)
- 1 cups (290 g) whole-wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons (22 g) brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- heaping 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 1/2 cups kefir, at or close to room temperature
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted, plus extra for oiling the griddle
Maple syrup, jam, or honey for serving
- To make the batter: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together the kefir and egg. In the flour mixture, make a well in the center. Pour the kefir into the center, then gently whisk together the flour and wet ingredients. Once more or less mixed, stir in the oil until just combined.
- Heat a nonstick or cast iron griddle over medium-high heat and lightly oil with coconut oil. Put a plate in the oven and preheat to warm. (This will keep the pancakes warm as you work.) Ladle batter onto the griddle, using about 1 full soup ladle for 2 pancakes.
- When a few bubbles start to form on top of the batter, flip and cook for just a bit more until the pancake feels almost firm when pressed on top. Transfer to the warmed plate in the oven. Repeat, oiling the griddle as needed, until all the batter is used up. (To get the last bits of batter onto the griddle, ditch the ladle and use a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl clean.) Serve with maple syrup, jam, or honey.