New York Magazine voted Neil Kleinberg’s blueberry pancakes best in the city twice so you know they are really good! Neil's secret is separating the eggs and gently folding in the whipped egg whites. If you don't care for blueberries, then bananas and walnuts can be substituted. They're even amazing plain with just maple syrup or maple butter!
- 4 cups flour (all-purpose)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder (plus 1 teaspoon)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 large eggs (separated)
- 3 cups milk (whole)
- 3/4 cup butter (unsalted, melted, plus 2 teaspoons unmelted for the griddle)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups blueberries (or sliced bananas and 1 cup chopped walnuts)
- 1/2 cup sugar (confectioners' or cinnamon sugar for dusting)
- Optional: maple butter
Here’s the secret of these pancakes: to make them right, you must fold egg whites into the batter. Neil discovered early on in the bakery’s existence that if he applied his French techniques—that is, you make a cake lighter by folding in whites (almost like a soufflé)—the batter gets lighter but retains the springy resiliency that makes for a proper pancake. The other key to magnificent pancakes is to avoid over-mixing, which creates too much gluten development in the flour and makes them tough.
Measure and sift all the dry ingredients into a large (preferably stainless steel) mixing bowl: flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
In another bowl, whisk together the yolks, milk, melted butter, and vanilla until combined. Whisk the wet mixture into the dry mixture. The result should be slightly lumpy, yet combined to form a batter.
Whip the egg whites in a medium mixing bowl until they reach medium peaks (soft in the middle). You can either whip them by hand with a whisk or put them in the bowl of an electric mixer to whip. Be careful, you don’t want to overwhip the egg whites.
Gently mix half of the whipped whites into the batter with a large rubber spatula. Then gently fold the remaining half into the batter. Remember: this batter should be slightly lumpy and have large parts of egg whites not fully incorporated; it should look like whitecaps in the ocean with foam on top. Note: The batter will last a few hours in the fridge without deflating too much.
Heat a griddle—either an electric griddle, a stovetop griddle, or a big flat pan—to 350 to 375 F. Grease the hot griddle with the remaining butter. Drop cup (approximately 4 tablespoons) of pancake batter on the griddle and cook to set. Add 1 tablespoon blueberries or sliced bananas and 1 teaspoon walnuts before turning the pancakes. Never add the fruit to the mix; always add the fruit to the pancakes once they’re on the griddle. When you see bubbles start to form on top, lift the pancake halfway up to see if it’s golden brown and crispy on the edges. If ready, flip the pancake.
When the pancake is golden brown on both sides, remove with a spatula. Repeat with the remaining batter and filling, cooking several pancakes at a time. Garnish with confectioners’ sugar for the blueberry pancakes, cinnamon sugar for the banana-walnut. Serve warm with maple butter.
Reprinted with permission from Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook by Dede Lahman and Neil Kleinberg (Little, Brown and Company, 2010).
Many cooks don’t heat the griddle enough, which is why the first pancake is usually a dud. Make sure it’s very hot, then put the butter on. A teaspoon or tablespoon is fine. Use just enough so that the pancake doesn’t stick.
Note: To ensure that the whites whip up to maximum height, clean and dry all of your utensils. Also, when separating, be careful not to get any yolk into the whites. Peaks are “soft” when you put your finger in the whites and they fall over. Peaks are “medium” when you put your finger in and they drip over a bit but stay somewhat up. “Stiff” peaks develop when you whip the whites longer and they stay straught up.