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Your Blueberry Pancakes Deserve Malted Milk Powder

This diner trick, plus a couple other simple batter tweaks, take the most beloved of flapjacks to the next level.
By Published May 18, 2022

You can make decent blueberry pancakes by dropping a few handfuls of fruit into any old batter, griddling the rounds, and dousing the stack liberally with maple syrup. But pair sweet-tart, high-season fruit with a complexly flavored crumb that’s got plenty of cushiony fluff and lightly crisp edges, and your lazy summer breakfast takes on a whole new level of luxury. 

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Buttermilk Adds Tang, Encourages Fluffiness

Those were the pancakes I had in mind as I got to work on a batter that would stand out against the vivid berries—not just capture them. The dry ingredients were predictable (all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt), as was the egg for structure and flavor. But the dairy was an obvious place to upgrade: Buttermilk instead of milk not only provided a bit of tang but also made for loftier, fluffier pancakes. The acid it contains interacted with the alkaline baking soda to inflate the batter with extra carbon dioxide, and its viscous body produced a thicker batter that was better at retaining those air bubbles throughout the cooking process. If you’re a pancake person, it’s worth keeping a carton of buttermilk around; it lasts for weeks and freezes well. But in a pinch, 1 part Greek yogurt to 2 parts water will produce similar stature and flavor.

Malted Milk Powder: The Secret to Toasty, Rich Complexity

I also whisked a few tablespoons of malted milk powder into the dry mix. If that sounds strange, consider this: Malt powder and milk powder are added to a lot of the most popular commercial pancake and waffle mixes, probably including those used at your favorite diner. Malted milk powder is a combination of the two (extract of malted grain, usually barley but sometimes wheat, plus nonfat dry milk powder). It supplied the pancakes with a concentrated, lactic sweetness and toasty, rich complexity that batches made without it just didn’t have.

The Dairy Trifecta

Dairy is a key source of flavor in pancake batter, so it pays to use ingredients that add complexity. Here, buttermilk adds tang; malted milk powder, toasty sweetness; and butter, lush richness. 

Butter Adds Richness—And Crisps the Edges

The other easy swap was melted butter for oil, both in the batter and in the pan. When the batter was mostly combined, I folded in loads of fresh berries. (Folding additions such as fresh fruit or chocolate chips into the batter rather than dropping them onto the top of the portioned pancakes ensures that they’re embedded in the fluffy crumb rather than simply sitting on the surface, where they’re vulnerable to burning when the pancakes are flipped.) I lightly greased the cooking surface with a tiny bit of oil—just enough to cook a mini “test” pancake, the color of which would help me gauge if the pan was too hot or too cold. Then I melted a small knob of butter and portioned three mounds of batter around the surface, flipping them when the first side was deep golden brown and scooting the pancakes around the griddle to soak up every bit of butter.

These pancakes were fluffy, with a flavor that was sweet but interestingly so, and frying them in plenty of butter had left them with subtly crisp edges. Make them this weekend. And next weekend, and probably the weekend after that. Blueberry season doesn’t last forever.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.