My ideal pancake has crisp edges. It’s plump but not dense, a down pillowlike sponge that can absorb lots of salted butter and just enough maple syrup to tilt everything toward sweetness. Crucially, it needs to be easy to mix together on lazy mornings, before anyone has had their coffee.
This recipe, for oatmeal griddle cakes, fits the bill nicely — and is adaptable enough that it might just become your favorite pancake, too.
It was inspired in part by a large, dinner-plate-size griddle cake I was served at a restaurant called Salt’s Cure in Los Angeles. Light, but chewy, the pancake had crisp, lacy edges and was full of pockets of soft, dense oatmeal, barely held together by eggs and milk.
But this variation gets that pancake closer to my ideal. By making the batter in a blender, the nutty oats turn into a smooth flour and cook quickly into fluffy, rather than dense, cakes on a hot skillet.
Lots of double-acting baking powder means there’s no need to add salt, and they’ll be lofty with or without eggs, so they can easily be made vegan. To make them gluten-free, substitute your favorite gluten-free flour blend for the all-purpose flour.
If your blender is on the fritz, or you are trying to make breakfast quietly while others snooze, you can also whisk the batter together in a bowl. (Just be sure to use quick-cook oats rather than old-fashioned.) Made this way, your pancakes will turn out more like the Salt’s Cure version, with craggy edges and chewy bites of oatmeal.
To get crispy edges, I recommend frying this batter in a hot skillet that’s not just greased, but coated with a thin pool of fat. Ghee, coconut oil or vegetable oil — heated until barely smoking — work well here to ensure each pancake gets a crunchy ring around its edge.
Oatmeal Griddle Cakes
2 servings (Makes eight 4-inch pancakes)
Thick with oats and lightly sweetened with honey, these oatmeal pancakes can be made gluten-free and/or vegan. Mixed in a blender, the batter takes minutes to prepare. If you like crispy edges, don’t just grease the skillet — cook the pancakes in a shallow pool of hot fat.
This recipe makes a small serving, but is easily doubled or tripled. (If making a big batch, keep cooked pancakes warm in a 200-degree oven.) Oatmeal griddle cakes go well with fresh or sauteed fruit, honey, spiced or fruit-infused syrup and/or salted butter.
Make Ahead: The batter can be made the night before. Stir in additional buttermilk or milk to loosen the batter until it’s a pourable consistency.
Storage Notes: Leftover pancakes can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
I’ve included instructions on how to make this recipe vegan or gluten-free below. Here are more ways to play, plus a few serving suggestions:
If you can’t have oats, use rice flour instead.
No honey or maple syrup? Try sugar, agave syrup, applesauce, grated apple or, for a savory pancake, skip it.
Out of baking powder? Use 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, lemon juice or vinegar.
These griddle cakes are great with salted butter and any kind of syrup or honey. Slices of crisp bacon might be nice with them, too. For a savory alternative, consider serving them with stewed white beans and shaved Parmesan, or a fried egg and frizzled herbs.
NOTES: To make this recipe vegan, omit the egg and milk. Use 3/4 cup light coconut milk, from a can, plus 2 teaspoons white or cider vinegar. If using quick-cooking or one-minute rolled oats, as recommended, you have the option of stirring the batter together in a bowl, but the pancakes will be chewier.
The quick-cooking oats ensure the pancake’s interiors will cook quickly and be tender. If using old-fashioned rolled oats, you must use a blender to mix the oats and milk very well before adding the other ingredients.
3/4 cup (64 grams) rolled oats, preferably quick-cooking (see NOTES)
1/2 cup (120 milliliters) whole milk or buttermilk (see NOTES), plus more as needed
1/4 cup (31 grams) all-purpose flour or a gluten-free flour blend
1 large eggs (see NOTES)
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup, plus more for serving
1 1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
Ghee, coconut oil or vegetable oil, for frying
Butter, for serving
Fresh or cooked fruit, for serving
In the pitcher of a blender, combine the oats and milk or buttermilk. Blend on high until the oats appear finely ground and the milk thickens, about 1 minute. Add the flour, egg, honey or maple syrup, and baking powder and blend on high until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. (Do not overmix, or the pancakes may be tough.) Scrape the bottom and sides of the blender to ensure there are no unmixed pockets of batter.
Place a 12-inch cast-iron or heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat, and add 1 to 3 tablespoons of ghee or oil, evenly spreading it across the bottom of the pan. As soon as it begins to smoke lightly, pour 3 to 4 small, roughly 3-inch-diameter puddles of batter into the pan. Lower the heat to medium and cook until the pancake edges look dry and the tops are pocked with bubbles, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip, and continue cooking until the pancakes bounce back when lightly poked in the center, another 2 to 3 minutes.
Repeat with the additional fat and the remaining batter. Serve the pancakes hot, with butter, syrup or honey, and/or fresh or cooked fruit.
Nutrition information per serving (4 small pancakes), based on 2 Calories: 291; Total Fat: 7 g; Saturated Fat: 3 g; Cholesterol: 99 mg; Sodium: 373 mg; Carbohydrates: 49 g; Dietary Fiber: 4 g; Sugars: 11 g; Protein: 13 g.
This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.
–G. Daniela Galarza