11/04/2011 11:00 am ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

How To Make Pancakes

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Watch this video to learn how to make fluffy, golden pancakes, whether your batter's from the box or mixed from scratch.

Video Transcript

I'm Chef Scott Swartz from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to make pancakes.

We're going to start with our batter. This is just a simple standard buttermilk pancake batter; it could be any batter mix, from a box or from scratch. One of the things people don't really understand is that pancake batter should be lumpy; by keeping it a little bit lumpy, you get a more tender pancake. The more you mix your pancake batter, the more tough and dense your pancake is going to be - and it doesn't matter whether you're using a box mix or making it from scratch at home.

Our griddle is going to be preheated to somewhere between 275 and 300 degrees; it depends on the brand of griddle. We're going to lightly spray it with a nonstick spray. You can also use butter, margarine, or oil - whatever your preference is. The key is to have just a light coating of fat.

At that point I'll add my pancake batter. I like to use a ladle that's about two ounces; it gives me a nice-sized pancake. When I pour it, I pour to the center and I let the pancake spread out on its own. I don't want to try to move it. So when I put it on the griddle, I pour right into the middle of the pancake and that's what is going to give me a nice spread.

I want them to cook nice and gentle. If my griddle is too hot I'm going to get a pancake with raw batter in the middle, and if its too cool I'm going to get an overcooked, dry pancake. Once my pancake is cooking, I'm looking for air bubbles to appear. That tells me the heat has been able to move from the bottom to the top, so when I flip it, all I'm doing is finishing it. If I don't see those bubbles, it means I'm going to have raw batter in the middle and potentially a pancake that's not cooked in the middle.

So our pancakes have been cooking for about two or three minutes now, and you can see the bubbles beginning to appear. These bubbles are that good sign of heat coming through. I like to take a look and make sure that my color underneath is developing. I see I've got a nice color, so I just lift my pancake and gently roll it over. See, I've got a nice golden brown there. Same thing here, my bubbles have formed nicely and I'm going to flip it as well. So I've got a nice color on my pancakes, and now I just need to let them cook until my batter cooks all the way through. I like to touch the middle and it should feel bouncy; if I push it and it goes down, that means it's still wet in the middle.

This one is done now, so we're going to slide this one off onto our plate. This one's done as well - and we have our two beautiful pancakes ready to eat. We cut them open, and we can see we've got a nice beautiful pancake cooked in the middle there, not oozing raw batter: delicious, hot, and ready to eat.