Whose pancakes will reign supreme?
A stack of pancakes dripping with syrup will forever scream breakfast. But with so many recipes out there, how do you find out which one is best? You pick a couple favorites and taste them side by side, of course.
In one corner, we have Banana Sour Cream Pancakes from Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten. In the other corner, we have Blueberry Cream Cheese Pancakes from Cravings: Hungry for More by Chrissy Teigen.
I decided to go with banana and blueberry pancakes because they’re the two fruits that seem to show up most often in pancakes. Boith recipes looked on brand for both cooks: Garten’s was relatively simple mix of high-quality ingredients, and of course called for sour cream and lemon zest; Teigen’s called for globs of cream cheese stirred into the batter, because, to quote the recipe headnote, “I haaaaate sour cream. But I do love its slightly sweeter sister, cream cheese.”
Let see whose pancakes will reign supreme, shall we?
I made Garten’s pancake batter first. It was straightforward and required nothing I don’t usually have in my kitchen. Actually, I probably wouldn’t have had sour cream and used Greek yogurt instead and you’d never know the difference, but in this case, I was following recipes on purpose, so I made sure to buy sour cream. Anyway, sift the flour here, zest a lemon there, mixy-mix sour cream and eggs, and presto, batter.
To fry the pancakes, the instructions say to melt a tablespoon of butter into a skillet and spoon out 2-3 pancakes. You top the pancakes with a tablespoonful of chopped bananas, flip, finish cooking, and turn out onto a plate. The first thing I noticed was that the butter in the pan wanted to burn more quickly than the pancakes wanted to cook. The second thing I noticed was that the pancakes didn’t fry as evenly as I was hoping. It could’ve been the fault of the pan I was using, or the burner, but it did happen every time I made a pancake from this batter. We’ll talk about flavor in a minute.
Moving on. Teigen’s recipe was a bit different than most pancakes I’ve made. It starts out by instructing you to cut a bar of cream cheese into little chunks and freeze them. The recipe also contains a bit of white vinegar, which make the batter puff up like a marshmallow in the microwave. It’s very satisfying. The cooking instructions recommend brushing a bit of melted butter on the skillet, then pouring in the batter in ⅓-cupfuls. A tablespoon of blueberries get dropped in, flip, cook, turn out onto plate. These pancakes cooked quickly and beautifully, rippled with golden brown all the way through.
Garten says to serve her pancakes with sliced bananas, butter, and pure maple syrup. Teigen says her should be topped with butter, fresh blueberries, graham cracker crumbs, and pancake syrup—“Aunt Jemima preferred! But pure maple syrup if you insist,” Teigen writes. Since I both hate fake maple syrup and also the grocery store I shopped at didn't sell Aunt Jemima, I used pure maple syrup on both plates of pancakes (I’m sorry, Chrissy!).
The finished Banana Sour Cream Pancakes:
Simple, casually elegant, like a chambray shirt. Classic Ina.
The finished Blueberry Cream Cheese Pancakes:
Gorgeous, and a little over the top. Classic Chrissy.
Teigen’s blueberry pancakes were good, but if you got a bite without cream cheese or blueberry, there wasn’t much happening, flavor-wise. But when you got a bite with both, the tart blueberries with the rich cream cheese was excellent. Personally, I didn’t really need to crush up a bunch of graham cracker crumbs simply for garnish, and the cream cheese was a little too rich for what I look for in a pancake. On the other hand, the plate looked lovely, and the pancakes I made looked pretty identical to the shot in the cookbook. These are pancakes I would be proud to serve if I had friends over for brunch. They’d also be the ones I’d post on Instagram.
Garten’s pancakes had a more elevated flavor profile. The lemon zest in the batter paired with all the butter in the pan made the final pancake remind me of a madeleine cookie, and there is quite literally nothing wrong with that. They didn’t look awesome, and the chopped banana made in the batter them pretty rich. I would’ve been happy to make these for myself on a snow day and be pleasantly surprised at how good they tasted, even if they weren’t really cute enough for Instagram.
After tasting, it was a tough call, but ultimately the winner was clear.