I am a pancake lover, and yet, I’ve been having a pancake crisis for the past year or so. I just haven’t been able to make them right.

When I was in Mexico during the summer of 2010, I lived with a Mexican family, and the señora of the house would make pancakes for breakfast almost every morning. They were just from a box mix, but she had the magic touch. Every pancake was buttery, tender, melt-in-your-mouth perfection. As a result, I returned to the U.S. with a raging appetite for pancakes.

I tried box mixes. I tried Trader Joe’s pancake mix. I tried an organic mix from Whole Foods. I tried making them from scratch. I tried making them in the cast iron skillet for those crispy edges. Nothing hit the spot. Finally, I gave up on my pancake fever and returned to simpler breakfast foods.

I was off at my parents’ house over this past long holiday weekend, when the mood for pancakes hit me again. My mom was watching Food Network on Sunday morning, and I watched Bobby Flay make homemade crumpets and jam. I wanted homemade crumpets and jam, but that seemed complicated, so it was a small leap from there to settle on pancakes. I headed to the kitchen and searched through my mom’s collection of cookbooks, until I finally, finally found ONE pancake recipe from the Cake Bible. I started pulling out the ingredients and was delighted to find that we had everything — even buttermilk. It was only until I started making them that I realized how involved the recipe was. Separating the egg yolks and whites, beating the whites to a peak? Since when do you do that for pancakes? Nevertheless, I followed the instructions to the letter, and oh, I was glad I did.

It was only after biting into the first pancake that I realized I wanted to blog about this recipe, if only for posterity’s sake (to make them again!). I ran up to my room to grab my camera. When my mom wandered into the kitchen and saw me snapping photos, she got excited about it too. She started coming up with food styling tips. She thought whipping up some homemade whipped cream would be good, so she did. She artfully arranged the pancakes and added dabs of butter.

I also made an apple-maple topping for the pancakes. I wanted to use fruit to make it a little healthier, so I thinly sliced two apples (I used honey crisp because it’s what we had on hand, but my mom suggested macintosh would be excellent), I sauteed them in butter until they got soft, and then poured maple syrup on top (the real stuff, people). My mom sprinkled some cinnamon on top, which was a good call.

And this was the result:

Buttermilk Pancakes
adapted from the Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum
(Adapted because her recipe was actually for blueberry buttermilk pancakes; I omitted the blueberries in mine.)

1 2/3 cups flour (dip and sweep method)
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs, separated
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks and buttermilk. In a third bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy, and then add the 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar. Beat until egg whites form a peak. Add yolk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix lightly with a fork (over mixing leads to tough pancakes), then add the cooled, melted butter. Fold the whites in with a rubber spatula. Cook on a griddle.

Top with sauteed apples and whipped cream for a gourmet treat!