This guest post is written by Donna Dooher. Donna is a celebrated chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, teacher and TV personality. She is the owner of Mildred’s Temple Kitchen where brunch is served every Sunday, including Father’s Day. If you make it, be sure to order the pancakes.
Growing up, my father held high court in our kitchen on Sunday mornings. He was master of the frying pan, striking the confidence of Julia Child and, of course, pancakes were his specialite de la maison. The batter was from a box — just add liquid (milk or water), crack a few eggs, mix (but not too much, “lumps are good,” he would tell us.) Maple syrup was de riguer, but likely laced with corn sugar and artificial colouring. Those were heady days — no worry of organic, sustainability or biodiversity, just a Sunday ritual that brought squeals of laughter to the brood of six and gave our mother a well-deserved sleep in. My dad was highly animated from start to finish, with his favourite album enticing him to belt out the revered line “I am, I, Don Quixote, the Man of La Mancha.” Diligently checking the temperature of the pan, he was keen to get the sizzle just right. The anticipation ran high as he dropped the first spoonful of batter into the pan. The miracle of leavening took place, the pancakes began to bubble and rise, and at just the right colour of golden brown, we were instructed to ready ourselves with ‘fork and courage’. We held steady, knowing how important this next step was.
The first batch was served and we quickly jabbed the pancakes with our forks. These were no ordinary pancakes, he warned us; so light and fluffy, we believed they would actually lift off and take flight. As we held them down with our forks, we anxiously awaited our drizzle of syrup. There were times when the younger children weren’t so quick to keep their pancakes in line, letting a couple slip away from our tastebuds. This whimsical notion gave us a mean case of the giggles, prompting my mother to peek in on us. With dozens of pancakes floating around the kitchen, the race was on to close all doors and windows so they wouldn’t fly away. One Monday morning while walking to school with my father, he pointed out a dot in the distance of a clear blue sky; it was one of our renegade pancakes floating up so high it would soon land on the moon, he told me. The Sunday ritual fell by the way side as we grew older and when I started cooking my own pancakes, they never took flight. I asked my father for some advice. He told me I could never get my pancakes to soar if I didn’t believe they could.
Mildred Pierce Restaurant and Temple Kitchen are renowned for Mrs. Biederhof’s Blueberry Buttermilk pancakes. After 20 years of faithfully serving them to the good folks of Toronto, rumour and innuendo still abound on how they’re made; a guarded recipe with a secret ingredient. Cries from frustrated cooks flood our airwaves — ‘mine are never as good as the ones we eat at the restaurant.’ Granted we know some have mastered the recipe in their own kitchens but we can only guess whether this is happenstance or firm conviction in their ability to spread their wings.
Some Sundays, I look out into the dining room at my restaurant and I can see enchanted pancakes floating about. Our guests eagerly devour their stacks with no notice, but just as my father instilled, I still dream the impossible dream.
Mrs. Biederhof’s Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- unsalted butter to grease the skillet
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder
and baking soda.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the buttermilk and melted butter.
Using a spatula, combine the dry and wet ingredients to make a thick,
lumpy batter, taking care not to overmix.
In a nonstick skillet, melt some butter over medium-high heat.
Ladle cup of batter into the hot skillet and sprinkle with blueberries (allow
space between pancake because they will puff up).
When bubbles appear on the surface of the pancakes and the edges begin
to brown, flip pancakes and cook the other side, about 2–3 mi