A favorite breakfast treat for all the classic pancake. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Pancakes! Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

I love pancakes on winter mornings. And I find something terribly satisfying about pancakes with an over-easy egg and bacon—the savory bacon and the sweet pancake and syrup expertly mediated by the versatile egg.  I got to thinking about them recently after a commenter on a recent post announcing the Ratio 2.0 release wrote that for five bucks he’d do the math himself. It kind of annoyed me, but I couldn’t figure out why until I thought about pancakes.

I always remember that I prefer a 5% brine, so that however much water I use, I can multiply that by .05 to determine the salt quantity. But ratios aren’t simply math, they’re about the proportions of several ingredients. No matter how many times I make pancakes, I always check the ratio. Moreover, they scale to what you have or need. Say you have only one egg. Say you wake up to find 13 of the guests who came to your Super Bowl party last night are asleep in your living room and will need to be fed. What to do?!

Ratios are the key. And what’s best is that if you know the ratio, you know infinite variations. You can make these pancakes savory or sweet or put them to different uses. This all-purpose batter will make great fritters if you use it simply as a binder, for example.

The following ratio and recipe is from my book Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking.


2 parts liquid : 1 part egg : 1/2 part butter : 2 parts flour

What I like about a pancake ratio is that you can tailor the amount according to how many people you want to feed, even if you just want to feed yourself.  Also, you can vary it to your own taste, adding more or less liquid for thinner or thicker pancakes. Buttermilk or homemade yogurt can be measured as half the liquid for a more complex flavor. You can also replace 25 percent of the flour with cornmeal, whole-wheat flour, or other ground cereals or grains for differing flavors and textures. These are standard pancakes, flavored with a little sugar and vanilla. I like to cook them on a film of bacon fat, which gives them a crisp crust.

Wet Ingredients

  • 8 ounces milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ounces butter (1/2 stick), melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients

  • 8 ounces flour (1 1/3 to 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Combine the wet ingredients in a bowl and whisk until they are thoroughly mixed.
  2. Combined the dry ingredients (press the baking powder through a strainer if it’s pebbly).
  3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and whisk or stir just until the batter is smooth (don’t over mix or the pancakes can be tough). This ratio results in a fairly thick batter, and thick, cakey pancakes. If you like them thinner, add 1 or 2 ounces of milk.
  4. Cook on a lightly oiled griddle or pan over medium heat until done.

Yield: About eight 4-inch pancakes


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© 2014 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2014 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.