Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Clinton Street Baking Company Blueberry Pancakes

My whole life I’ve been eating sourdough pancakes. My Granddad’s sourdough starter dates back to 1958 when my Grammy brought it home from garden club. The lady who gave it to her claimed the starter was from Alaska.

So to this day, my entire family makes sourdough pancakes with the same starter that is now over 50 years old. They’re simply the best and even better in Danville, CA when my granddad makes them on Sundays. I’m not sure if it’s tradition, the seasoned griddle (that may be as old as the starter) or just my granddad, the pancake expert, but there really is nothing better.

But, just this once, I deviated, went out on a huge limb and this weekend made an entirely different recipe. I have a mild obsession with Throwdown with Bobby Flay, so when I saw the episode of him taking on the pancake professionals at Clinton Street Baking Company in New York City, I knew the popular little breakfast joint was a place I wanted to visit. When we were there on a girl’s trip, I drug Jenny G. and Melissa across town, we put our name on the list and patiently waited until we could indulge. Their famous blueberry pancakes with maple butter were all they were cracked up to be.

Then Jenny D. posted on her blog that there was a Clinton Street Baking Company Cookbook out and I immediately bought it for myself for a Valentine’s Day present (sometimes Amazon’s one click shopping just makes it too easy!). Since then Jenny has been telling me all the fabulous things she’s made out the book; chili, split pea soup, and of course, the amazing pancakes.

I’m excited to try so many of the recipes in my new cookbook, but Neil’s pancakes were number one on my list. And they are incredible. Light, fluffy and perfect.

So long story short, sourdough pancakes will always be my number one. But next time I make them, I may use Neil’s trick of folding in beaten egg whites and drowning the sourdoughs in maple butter. And when we feel like changing it up, I’ll always fall back on this recipe for blueberry pancakes.

For my local friends, if any of you are interested in some of the Dance family sourdough starter, I’m happy to share along with our pancake recipe!

Neil Kleinberg’s Pancakes with Real Maple Butter – because as Jenny D. said, “It would be a sin not to make the maple butter!”
Clinton St. Baking Company


4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder, plus 1 teaspoon
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 large eggs, separated
3 cups whole milk
¾ cup (12 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 teaspoons for the griddle
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½ cups blueberries or sliced bananas and 1 cup chopped walnuts
½ cup confectioners’ sugar or cinnamon sugar for dusting (I skipped the dust)
Maple Butter (recipe follows)

*I cut the above recipe in half (as well as the maple butter recipe) and it made more than enough pancakes for four hungry adults.

The secret to their pancakes is folding 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 overmixing, which creates gluten in the flour and makes them tough.

1. Measure and sift all the dry ingredients into a large (preferably stainless-steel) mixing bowl: flour, baking powder, sugar, salt.

2. 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.

3. Whip the egg whites in a medium mixing bowl (Kitchen Aid) until they reach medium peaks. Peaks are “medium” when you put your finger in and they drip over a bit and stand up.

4. 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. (The batter will last a few hours in the fridge without deflating too much.)

5. Heat a griddle to 350 to 375 F. Grease the hot griddle with the remaining butter. Drop ¼ 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. 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.

6. 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.

MAPLE Butter


1 cup real maple syrup (grade-B organic)
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1. Heat the maple syrup over medium heat

2. Add the cold butter to the warm syrup by whisking in a few cubes at a time until the sauce is smooth and all of the butter is incorporated.

3. Turn off the flame and keep the sauce in a warm place until ready to serve.

It will keep for at least two months in the refrigerator. Never boil the syrup.


  1. Ah brings back memories...such a fun trip and well worth the wait to get into that place. And now I'm about to die for a pancake!

  2. We have made these two weekends in a row. I made the coleslaw today- we'll see how it turns out! So far, I am 5 for 5 with recipes made from this cookbook. Glad you're enjoying it as well!

  3. These look delicious! I love the idea of maple butter! How could that not be amazing? I can't wait to try these! (looking into this cookbook right now!)

  4. I think grandparents have a special touch in the kitchen, which is a big part of things just tasting better when they make it. I love that you bought yourself a V-day gift, you go girl.

  5. I so want on your list for the sourdough recipe and starter!

  6. Mmmm, you have me craving a bite with all the talk of pancakes and family tradition recipes. The book sounds like it is fabulous and I will have to keep my eye out for this one.

  7. Yummers.....that's quite a stack of cakes. We may need to enlist your abilities for Henry and Silv in April

  8. I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I'm moving in. Jason and Roman can totally survive together, but I'm pretty sure that this baby will grow bigger and stronger with all of the yummy meals you make. Oh, and please, please, please put me on your list for a starter!!

  9. I will have to give this recipe a try, looks great.

  10. Made these (minus the maple butter ) with Stella this morning. Delicious!

  11. Ok Emily, be honest, do you really sift your ingredients? I never do this....but am starting to wonder if I should

  12. No, never in my lift have I sifted my ingredients. I don't even own a sifter, plus I don't like getting extra dishes dirty!

  13. These pancakes look delicious! I am your newest follower. I am glad I stopped by today. By the way, I have a contest giveaway on my blog you might find fun. Take a look. triumphandtears.blogspot.com

  14. I now have a serious craving for pancakes - I would just love your granddad's made with that amazing starter!

  15. I thought about getting this book and now I think I need to!

  16. Thanks for visting my newer blog! I love pancakes and I love sourdough...in Minnesota it is mostly just "dough"...I grew up in the Seattle WA area - they know sourdough plus my parents wintered in San Diego and got good sourdough there!! I love using starter for Amish Friendship bread. Is this similar?
    I've never had a sourdough pancake. Do you have a post for them?

  17. I almost forgot...the blueberry pancakes look unbelievably good! I'll bet if you added a little salt to the maple butter or used one stick salted and one unsalted it might give it a bit more depth...just my unsolicited 2 cents!!! I am a salty/sweet craver!

  18. I'm bookmarking this recipe too. Those pancakes look amazing!

  19. I adore pancakes ~ These sound yummy!

  20. I've never had sourdough pancakes! But these are good for now =)

  21. Thanks for the sourdough recipe...now need to find starter! I have a friendship bread starter, I wonder if that would work? It does have sugar in it though...

  22. Em, this is perfect! I promised my host mom I'd make an American breakfast for her, and since I don't have any sourdough starter I think I'll try this recipe!

  23. Can I get on list for the sourdough starter
    Carolyn Questad

  24. Love ALL your recipes and thanks for sharing them with us :) You are the BEST! Would you please share your sourdough pancake recipe with me as I only have our sourdough waffle recipe that the girls grew up on. Always thankful Emily.
    Lauren Funke

  25. Those looks delicious! Pancakes are always a huge hit in our house, I'm curious to try these with the sour cream in them. Very interesting, Thanks!