Photo by Griffin Shapiro

Ron Silver from Bubby’s on why he turned his killer pancakes into a mix

Rebecca Firkser
May 14, 2018

When it comes to New York City brunch spots, Bubby’s is an institution. For 27 years, the restaurant has churned out killer pies and coffee, but their bestseller is the pancakes. Using a recipe adapted from James Beard's American Cookery, Bubby’s serves pancakes that are nearly six inches in diameter and so fluffy they practically bounce as you slice your fork through them. The restaurant recently began selling their pancake mix (online and in stores) so customers won't have to leave their kitchen to get a Bubby’s-quality breakfast.

Ron Silver, chef and co-owner of Bubby’s, has been toying with the idea of selling a pancake mix for years, at the continuous suggestion of friends and customers. Silver was interested, but wouldn’t commit to making a mix unless he could guarantee that the end product would be as good as what you’d get in the restaurant.

Though James Beard’s pancake recipe calls for buttermilk, Silver relies on a different creamy, tangy dairy product. “Sour cream has been part of the original recipe for Bubby's pancakes since day one,” Silver told me in an email. “It occurred to me that I could have a buttermilk flavor by substituting half the milk in Mr. Beard's recipe for sour cream. It really made the fluffiest, best pancake I had ever tried.”

What would Beard think of such a change to his classic recipe? “I think if he were alive Mr. Beard would not be displeased with the swap," Silver said. "Perhaps that's presumptuous, but that is the bad thing about being dead. Sorry, Beardy.”

Of course, when turning batter into mix, further adjustments must be made. Silver’s mix uses sour cream powder instead of the hydrated cream along with flour, sugar, malt powder, baking soda, and salt. When making the mix, you need add only melted butter, milk, and an egg.

I’ll be honest: I rarely use pancake mix. Most mixes contain no more than pantry staples and preservatives, making them a waste of money. However, having tasted Bubby’s pancakes at the restaurant, the idea of getting to eat the same pancakes in my pajamas and slippers was too good to pass up.

Silver, who developed the mix along with his wife, Melissa, owes the mile-high fluffiness factor of their pancakes to folding the batter instead of stirring it. When I made a batch of their batter, I took Silver’s advice. After scooping ¼-cupfulls of batter onto a nonstick pan, I found myself going to town on a fat stack of huge fluffy pancakes in less than 20 minutes.

Photo by Rebecca Firkser

I wouldn’t say I’m a complete pancake-mix convert, but I would absolutely pit Bubby's mix up against most from-scratch pancakes I’ve had (it's not even a contest when it comes to other mixes). The ingredients in Bubby's mix could easily be whisked together from scratch, but who wants to track down dehydrated sour cream or malt powder. Whether you live too far away to go to Tribeca for pancakes, or want to pack a host gift that someone would actually use, this is the mix I would recommend.

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