Pancakes Revisited

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



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