Pancake Perfection

Spruce up your campsite breakfast. 

When camping, I enjoy morning coffee and breakfast as much as any meal, if not more. After all, this fuel enables us to stay out on the trail or river for as long as possible. If you’d like an alternative to oatmeal, or simply want to impress your friends and family, consider these gourmet buttermilk pancakes. The extra effort is worth it

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes (12 servings; this recipe can be cut in half for two hungry adults)
In addition to all the basics, ensure that the following equipment is in your camp kitchen stash:
1 medium-to-large mixing bowl
1 small mixing bowl to hold approximately 3 cups, stainless steel preferred
1 small whisk
1 rubber spatula

Prepare at home by whisking together in a sealable plastic container or bag:

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Measure into another container with a confident seal:
2 cups shaken buttermilk

Bring camping:
4 eggs

4 Tbsp butter for the batter, plus more for the pan
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Begin by pouring your dry ingredients into the medium-to-large bowl. Have the smaller bowl at the ready next to your container of buttermilk. Separate each egg, dropping the white into the large bowl and the yolk into the buttermilk. If you’ve never separated an egg, it’s quite easy! Crack on a surface (like you mean it), then with either your hands or the shell halves, hold the yolk gently while the white drops into its bowl. You might have to pass back and forth a couple of times until left holding only a yolk. Place the yolk into the buttermilk, then repeat for all your eggs. Mix yolks and buttermilk well with a fork.

To make meringue, whisk the egg whites in the small bowl until foamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the cream of tartar. Continue whisking quickly and watch as the foam becomes thicker and whiter. Just when you can’t stand it anymore, it might be done. Lift the whisk and, if it holds medium-firm peaks, it’s ready.

Folks, making meringue while camping is a class act and worth trying. Before we get started, let’s talk about meringue. First and foremost, your egg whites must be completely clear of any fat. The biggest offender is the yolk, which, if broken, will prevent proper volume of foam. Note that oil or butter touching the bowl can also be problematic. By whipping the egg whites, we create air bubbles, resulting in foam; its fragile constitution benefits from various stabilizers. Sugar is an effective and common stabilizer, but not applicable in our current pancake recipe. Acids work well and the addition of cream of tartar does wonders. A bit of lemon juice is an excellent option, too.

Heat your pan and melt the 4 Tbsp of butter. Pour the buttermilk mixture into your dry ingredients and stir with a fork, leaving it lumpy and with some flour clumps. Pour in the melted butter and gently mix with the fork. Now fold in a third of the meringue with the rubber spatula. Complete in two more installments, gently folding until incorporated. It should be light and lofty, yet homogenous with no more flour clumps or meringue pockets. Now cook like a pancake, dot with blueberries, if desired, and top with your favorites. We ate three each, topped with garden strawberries, peach slices, honey Greek yogurt, and maple syrup.

Deborah Katz is the pastry chef at Montana Ale Works and enjoys leaving a path of goodies wherever she goes.