It’s Still Chilly Enough for Pancakes

| May 18, 2020

Buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup

As much as I love pancakes, my curiosity was awakened some time back when I found my mother’s 1952 Better Homes & Gardens cookbook in a box of old books. Comparing that to my more modern version, which I bought in 2009, I found a slight difference in ingredients, but not a lot. (No, I’m not moving the Thursday Cooking to Monday. This is a freebie!.)

I had bought and used a box mix for buttermilk pancakes, and it was not particularly satisfactory. The pancakes did not cook evenly on a cast iron griddle, and they were tough in the middle and around the edges.  And unfortunately, the flavor that you get from real buttermilk pancakes just was not there.

I was disappointed, especially since I usually only indulge in this culinary delight in cold weather, which we’re still having here in my kingdom. It’s mid-May and the tress are barely leafed out, and I still have the furnace running. We may have a burst of warm air, but that cranky loop in the jet stream continues to bring us cold air from the heavy ice pack up in the Barents Sea in the Great Frozen North.

I ran a test today on the 1952 recipe, just to find out if there is a difference, and there is a real, and very distinct, difference between the box mix and the pancakes made from scratch.

And here’s the 1952 BH&G recipe. While it has minor differences from the more recent recipe (which I haven’t tried yet), I will say that this one works nicely, even if you are using modern ingredients.

Better Homes & Gardens 1952 Pancakes recipe, including the buttermilk part:

1 1/4 cups of sifted all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons of baking powder (Clabber Girl is still available)

1 tablespoon of sugar

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 beaten egg

1 cup of milk (note: in 1952, 2% milk was not available; use whole milk if you are not making buttermilk pancakes)

2 tablespoons of salad oil (corn oil or olive oil) or melted shortening or bacon fat. I used olive oil; canola oil does not work for this.

For buttermilk pancakes, follow these substitutions:

Substitute bnttermilk for whole milk

Add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and cut the baking powder to 2 teaspoonfuls


Sift together the flour, baking soda and baking powder, sugar, and salt. Give the dry ingredients a good stir to mix them.

Combine beaten egg, milk (or buttermilk), and oil and stir thoroughly. Add to the dry ingredients and stir just until the flour mixture is moistened. The batter will be very lumpy.

Cooking directions:

Bake on a hot griddle (yes, that is verbatim).  Makes about 12 dollar-sized or 8 four-inch pancakes.

Note: Make sure you grease the griddle with something like olive oil, or the pancakes will stick. I used olive oil on one batch and bacon grease on another. Both work quite well, and we have to remember than in the 1950s, a lot of things that go into the trash now were recycled and re-purposed, including bacon grease.

I made six pancakes out of it.  The batter is quite thick and lumpy, and stuck like crazy to the dipper that I used, but when cooked, the lumps disappear and these real buttermilk pancakes have excellent flavor, requiring nothing more than butter and good maple syrup, and maybe some J’ville sausages or nice, crispy bacon. They are not tough at all, and hold up well, despite the age of the recipe. In the photo up top, the plate is a standard sized salad plate, which should give you an idea of the size of that pancake.

Just glad I found that old cookbook. I will keep it next to my more modern BH&G version and occasionally use the old recipes.


Category: Cooking, Economy

Comments (26)

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  1. OWB says:

    Yum, yum.

    The only thing better than real buttermilk pancakes is sourdough pancakes, but perhaps not enough better to go to the bother of making the sourdough starter. Unless you just have some handy.

    If there are any left over pancakes, they make great peanut butter sandwiches later on in the day. Same with French toast.

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      Uh…. there weren’t any left over pancakes. 🙂 They all somehow just disappeared.

      The flavor these have knocks the socks off any box mix, period.

  2. 5th/77th FA says:

    A new, added segment, Mondays are for Pancakes/Breakfast foods Recipes is just more proof that TAH Admins, particularly Ex-PH2, loves us and wants us to be happy. This will make a wonderful weekly addition to the Thursdays are for Cooking and the Friday’s Recipe Threads. Guess we can look forward to a french toast serving for next Monday?

    Real Buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup? Never too hot for that. May have to start the breakfast process a little earlier, or kick the AC up a bit in another week or so, or do like I did; bite the bullet and bought an electric griddle awhile back. Works like a champ and I don’t have to cut the gas on. I have some of Mama’s cookbooks from the 40s,50s,&60s and yep, there are differences. Many of the things that our Moms kept for granted in the cabinet/spice rack/pantry aren’t there any more. Most of the “girls” these days use box mixes and wouldn’t know a flour sifters’ use if it bit them on the buttocks. And a drippings container, with cracklin’ screen, on the side board of the stove? Honey hush. Do wish we still had Granny’s old baker’s cabinet, porcelan, with the built in flour drawer and heavy duty sifter. Saw many a biscuit, cookie, cake, pie crust, and pot of dumplin’s rolled out on that prep area.

    In your honor yesterday, on my provision run, I picked up several packages of J’ville smoked and cheddar links and 3 more pounds of the hickory smoked bacon. (They had a limit on quantities) A ration of either would go well with them thar flapjacks.

    Tanks Mate!

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      Pancakes are a form of flatbread, 5th/77th, so making something like crepes or pancakes is simply a matter of having the right ingredients. There is even a recipe in the newer BH&G cookbook for cornmeal pancakes, which I just might try.

      Sifters? I haven’t seen one of those in a coon’s age, never mind some of the kitchen utensils I used to take for granted. I’m sure they’re still around. Just a matter of finding the right store. Used to be that everything not food came from the hardware or dry goods store, and that sure has changed.

      Not promising anything about a regular Monday cooking article. I just felt like pancakes yesterday, and it was worth the effort it took. They were delicious. A box mix just does not do it.

  3. DocV says:

    You had me at bacon fat….

    Any recipe that allows bacon fat as the oil is okay in my book!

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      Heh…. me, too.

      • SFC D says:

        My mom always saved the bacon grease, kept it in a mason jar in the fridge. Grandma, however, kept her bacon grease in an empty, uncovered Campbell’s soup can on the back of her stove. We all should’ve died from whatever grew in there, but we didn’t, so apparently it was good for the immune system.

      • Ex-PH2 says:

        A lot of so-called modern stuff is really not good for you or your cardiovascular system. And I see no reason to let bacon grease be wasted in the trash bin, or to use that godawaful stuff called margarine (that makes your platelets stickier than they should be) when butter is better for you.

  4. George V says:

    One good thing to come out of increased global trade is getting fresh blueberries at weird times of the year. No I am not hijacking the pancake thread….

    I’ve always cheated and used Bisquick for pancakes. I made the recipe on the box with the add-ins of a bit sugar, baking powder, and lemon to add some sweetness and leavening. After mixing it up add like 1-1/2 to 2 cups of fresh blueberries. It’s a lot more than the typical recipes use. You get about 15 berries per 4-5 inch pancake. Barely enough batter to hold it together.

    I use an electric skillet at 320 deg. which browns but doesn’t overcook the berries. Cook like normal pancakes, enough to get the the berries sizzling – that means the batter is cooked through. I use veg. shortening (like Crisco) instead of oil in the skillet – seems to cook better than oil. Also keep a lid on the skillet to heat the top, but cocked at an angle so the steam vents out.

    We eat them as they come out of the pan with butter and syrup- I prefer real maple. With bacon or sausage, of course.

    This concludes my one and only recipe to contribute!

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      Blueberry pancakes… It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen anyone ever refer to that. Thanks!

      I am, frankly, waiting for the day when we suddenly have to go back to basics. It almost happened this time. We’re just too dependent on the modern world.

    • OWB says:

      Great idea on the electric skillet for pancakes. Yep. Ran into one a few months ago on sale and haven’t yet used it. Pancakes! Perfect. Maybe have a contest between it and the cast iron skillet to see which is better. Or simply as an excuse to cook more, faster.

    • aGrimm says:

      With a large all boy family and mom always pregnant, we didn’t want her surly self up in the morning. Breakfast was a fend for yourself affair. Therefore I was making Bisquick pancakes or waffles at about the age of 10 and feeding them to my younger brothers. A cast iron griddle with bacon fat were the choice for pancakes. Still make them the same way with homemade syrup via Crescent Mapleine. 60 years later,my youngest brother (11 yrs difference) still asks me to make them when I visit him. He has fond memories and so do I. No mom or dad, just us brothers supporting each other and making each other’s lunch also. Good times that persist to today.

      A medium temperature works best. Personally I like my pancakes thin. Haven’t done blueberry pancakes for a long time so will take that suggestion. Yum!

  5. Skyjumper says:

    Furnace running here in Cheesehead land at outside temp of 48 degrees. Shop heater heating up a storm right now in prep for me to work out there.

    “Sifters? I haven’t seen one of those in a coon’s age…”

    Actually have one of those in my cupboard. Ex-PH2.
    Five cupper Bromwell’s Measuring Sifter proudly made in the USA, now just a cupboard decoration along with the metal saltine box, cast metal Tilt-Top Juice-O-Mat lemon squeezer (also made in the good old USA) and other various assortment of old kitchen appliances.

    When I go to a flea market then and again, I’ll see those same items that I grew up with, now being sold as antiques.

    Kinda, sorta dates me. (sigh) (smile)

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      I did look for sifters. Blaine’s (in Wisconsin) has them, just the right size and price, too, and they also carry the Whirly-Pop corn popper. Now I know where to shop for practical things online.

      • Skyjumper says:

        Actually grew up with this popcorn popper. Add oil & popcorn kernels, then rank for all it’s worth.

        Used it on most Saturday nights (the one night the folks allowed us to have soda), sitting down in front of the B&W Tv watching Lawrence Welk (Lenon sisters were hot), Mitch Miller, Gunsmoke and on occasion,
        Pa & I would watch boxing.

        Sorry Ex, didn’t mean to hijack the thread…just a few memories came back. (smile)

      • Ex-PH2 says:

        Oh, you didn’t hijack the thread. I watched every western TV show there was. Great adventure, especially “Wagon Train”. And we had popcorn on Sunday nights after supper, and watched the “Ed Sullivan Show”, which was the only reason my dad agreed to get a TV at all.

        I also spent many Saturdays sitting in the stacks on the floor of the public library, reading every sci-fi book I could find.

        For a while, I used a long-handled basket popcorn popper that could be used over a gas stove or a campfire. Really prefer the WhirlyPop popper now.

  6. MustangCryppie says:

    Whuh? You can’t eat pancakes all year long?!!!

    PH2, the only way to improve your recipe is to “baconize” it.

    Double YUM.

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      The batter I made is too stiff for that. You’d have to thin it down a bit, so that it’s more like a thick crepes batter. I will experiment with that.
      But in regard to hot days vs. cold days, if it’s hot, all I want is cold, very cold iced tea and some raisin toast and bacon for breakfast. Kinda hoping this chill weather lasts. Brief hot spells are okay, but I prefer the chill, for some reason…. oh, that’s right: it’s pancakes and maple syrup weather!!

  7. Messkit says:

    No matter what flour or recipe you use, please add a capfull of Vanilla extract before mixing. You will thank me.

  8. xyzzy says:

    Here in Florida, it’s 85°F outside. Too damn hot for anything other than ice-cold sloe gin.

  9. Haywire Angel says:

    Our family loves Dutch Pancakes (we call them continentals) for special occasions or whenever you feel like it. In my opinion, they are best served with either lemon juice and powdered sugar, or apple butter. Just don’t try to use wheat flour as a substitute!!