Pittsburgh's Finest Diner Pancakes

Pamela's Diner, with six outposts in and around Pittsburgh, is justly famous for its oversized pancakes. Light and buttery, thinner than regular pancakes but thicker than crêpes, people rave about their crisp edges and wonderful texture. In fact, a certain President liked owner Pam Cohen's pancakes so much, he invited her and co-owner Gail Klingensmith to the White House to cook their signature cakes in person! Our version of these cakes, based on some "hints" Pamela's has dropped about their secret recipe, produces pancakes we feel are close to the original; but since we've never been to Pamela's Diner, we can't know for certain. Attention, Pamela's fans: try these pancakes, and let us know how they stack up — pun intended!

Photo by Gayle H.

PREP TIME

--

minutes

TOTAL TIME

--

minutes

SERVINGS

4

large pancakes

PREP TIME

--

minutes

TOTAL TIME

--

minutes

SERVINGS

4

servings

Ingredients

  • 1

    cup lukewarm milk

  • 2

    tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 3/4

    cup King Arthur Unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 3/8

    teaspoon salt (or a heaping 1/4 teaspoon)

  • 1

    teaspoon baking powder

  • 1

    tablespoon sugar

  • 1/2

    teaspoon instant yeast

  • 1

    large egg, beaten

Directions

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together everything except the egg, stirring until fairly smooth; a few small lumps can remain. Tent the bowl lightly with plastic, and allow it to rest at room temperature for 3 hours; it'll start to bubble just a bit. Refrigerate the batter overnight. Just before cooking the pancakes, stir in the beaten egg. Heat a 9" or 10" skillet over medium heat; or heat a 9" or 10" electric skillet to 300°F; or heat a griddle that's at least 9" to 10" wide, and easy to pick up and handle. Place 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon butter into the skillet, swirling them around until the butter melts. Yes, use 1 teaspoon each; this is what will give the pancakes their signature crisp edges. Pour a scant 1/2 cup batter into the pan, tilting the pan until the batter forms a circle about 9" in diameter. It's important that you do this quickly, before the pancake has a chance to set; the thin edges that result from tilting the pan to distribute the batter become wonderfully crispy. Cook the pancake for about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, or until its underside is golden brown. Flip it over, and cook about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes more, until golden. Transfer to a plate (or lightly greased baking sheet, if you want to keep the pancake warm in the oven while you cook the remainder). Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve the pancakes with butter and syrup. Or spread sour cream (or whipped cream, or yogurt), layer strawberries down the center, and roll like a blintz.

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