Photo by Stacey Ballis

Ranchcakes, if you will

Stacey Ballis
February 23, 2018

Sweet breakfast pancakes, I can generally take or leave, but I love savory pancakes. A scallion pancake at a Chinese restaurant makes me all kinds of happy. A crepe with ham and cheese is perfection. Recently, when buying Lipton onion soup mix to make dip for the Super Bowl, I spotted the ranch dip/dressing powder packets, and who doesn't love ranch? I make a killer homemade ranch all summer long with fresh from the garden herbs, but I’m no purist, there is often a bottle of Hidden Valley goodness in my fridge.

The key to good ranch dressing, anyone will tell you, is buttermilk. Same goes for great pancakes. My brain made the immediate connection: buttermilk ranch… buttermilk pancakes!   

I took a look at the pancake recipe I had in my files, super basic classic buttermilk cakes. There was 1/4 cup of sugar in the batter. What if I swapped out the sugar for the ranch powder? To really up the ante, I invited some freshly chopped shallot, parsley and dill to the party, and a good grinding of black pepper. Since it was in the house already, I threw some crispy bacon pieces into the mix. What resulted was kind of magic in the form of a deeply ranch-flavored fluffy pancake with bits of crunchy bacon embedded on top. A pancake so savory that syrup just enhanced the savoriness, instead of making it too sweet.

If you are a ranch super-fan you can add ranch instead of syrup, but the pancakes are so redolent of ranch, you really don’t need it. A dash of hot sauce would not be amiss, nor would a drizzle of barbecue sauce. My husband really loved them best with the maple syrup, but for me, the ultimate was a thin slick of butter and the lightest possible dusting of confectioners sugar.  

Bacon Buttermilk Ranchcakes

Photo by Stacey Ballis

Makes 9 large or 18 small pancakes

Ingredients

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and set aside to cool
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1-once packages ranch dressing powdered mix
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 small shallot minced fine, about 1 1/2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs, beaten
8 slices bacon, cooked crisp and broken into pieces
Vegetable oil for cooking
Maple syrup

Directions

1. In a large bowl whisk the flour, ranch powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well mixed. Add the shallot, parsley, and dill and whisk again so that they are well-distributed. Pour in the buttermilk and mix until almost combined, but still have some dry spots. Add in the cooled melted butter and mix gently until just combined, you should still have some lumps, but not see any streaks of dry flour. Set aside the batter to rest at room temperature.

2. Preheat your oven to 200°F.

3. Heat your griddle or nonstick skillet over medium high heat. When hot enough for a drop of water to skitter across the surface and evaporate, brush a thin layer of oil on the surface. Drop 1/2 cup scoops for large cakes or 1/4 scoops for small on the skillet, leaving plenty of room for them to spread. I usually coax them along with the back of the scoop, since the thick batter will only spread so far on its own. Immediately sprinkle bacon pieces over the top of each pancake, so that they set in the still-sticky batter.  

4. Cook on the first side until bubbles appear on the tops of the pancakes, and the edges look dry, about 2 minutes. Flip over. DON’T PRESS DOWN! I mean it. I know you want to, but resist. These are extra fluffy cakes, and if you press on them they get rubbery. Cook on the second side about 1-2 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.

5. Transfer cooked cakes to a rack over a sheet pan and hold in the oven while you make the rest.

6. Serve hot with butter, maple syrup, hot sauce, confectioners sugar, or yes, even ranch.

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