Blueberry buttermilk pancakes from Clinton Street Baking Company

Last week I mentioned an excellent buttermilk biscuit that I had at Clinton Street Baking Company, a little bakery and restaurant on the Lower East Side of New York City. Biscuits aren’t the only thing this place is renowned for – they also make award-winning pancakes, served with blueberries or bananas and walnuts. Edward and I both opted for the blueberry version – and they were so yummy (and filling) that we returned for them again two days later.

For me the pancakes themselves weren’t actually the best part – yes, they were nice and fluffy and the blueberry compote added an extra dimension – but I really went crazy for the maple butter that was served alongside them. Our waitress told me it was butter and maple syrup whipped together, but because it was warm, I think it’s more likely that the two are simply melted. No matter how they do it, it’s indulgent!

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I’m not often moved to recreate dishes I eat in restaurants, but the minute I ate these I knew I’d be making my own version back in London. I couldn’t find Clinton Street’s exact pancake recipe online but a bit of Google research told me that they whip and add the egg whites separately in order to make the pancakes super fluffy. I figured I could sort out the rest myself.

I didn’t have high hopes for the blueberry compote; unfortunately we get pretty mediocre cultivated blueberries in the UK, nothing like the tiny, flavour-jammed fruits of my Ontario home. But I was amazed at how much my generic supermarket berries were improved by simmering them into a simple compote. They became downright tasty.

The whole pancake-compote-maple butter operation does take more work than regular pancakes, so this is one for a lazy weekend morning or a special occasion. If nothing else, I do urge you to try the artery-clogging, hip-thickening maple butter for a deliciously different twist on a pancake topping.

Buttermilk Pancakes with Blueberries

Serves 3-4. This is adapted from my basic pancake recipe.

2 eggs
220 ml (1 scant cup) buttermilk
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
190g (scant 1 1/3 cups) plain or all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup blueberries

Separate the eggs so that the yolks go into a large bowl and the whites go into the bowl of a stand mixer or a bowl large enough to fit a hand held electric mixer.

Add the buttermilk and melted butter to the yolks in the bowl and beat together. In another bowl mix together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

With a stand mixer or electric mixer, whip the egg whites to hold soft peaks.

Now pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and stir lightly until just combined. Some lumps are OK. Fold in the egg whites until just combined. It’s OK if some of the whites aren’t fully incorporated.

Rub a non-stick frying pan with a bit of butter and heat over medium-high heat. Add batter to pan to make whatever size pancake you want (I like small ones made with a heaping tablespoon of batter – my pan fits about 5 of these at a time). Pancakes are ready to flip once a few bubbles appear on the surface and and the tops are starting to go dull. Just before they are ready to flip, sprinkle a few blueberries on top of each pancake. Flip and cook another minute or two.

If you wish you can keep the pancakes warm in a very low oven while you cook the remaining batter.

Blueberry Compote

Serves 3-4.

1 cup blueberries (preferably wild blueberries, if available)
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 strip lemon peel
1/4 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn down heat and simmer very gently until mixture is thickened, about 10-12 minutes. Stir occasionally during cooking time. Spoon compote over pancakes while still warm.

Maple Butter

Serves 3-4. You can adjust the amount of maple syrup to make it more or less pronounced, depending on your tastes.

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup maple syrup

In a small saucepan, melt together butter and maple syrup over low heat until melted. Serve immediately over pancakes.