Buttermilk Pancakes

Eat Only Irish for a Week- begins tomorrow, Monday 9th May 2011.
At first, the mind boggles- how could you possibly manage? On further consideration, it’s only two generations since all our people (with the exception of the wealthier ones) ate only Irish all the time. Surely we can do it again?
Driving from Galway to Dublin last evening through the landscape illuminated between showers by the tracery of the Hawthorn bush, an Sceach gheal, some ideas came to mind.

Buttermilk pancakes with Glenisk yogurt and berries

Pancakes seem to have become associated with Shrove Tuesday, but in our house they have always been the breakfast staple for children going out to play sport, or for a late family brunch. Buttermilk pancakes require none of the finesse of cooking crepes-any child over seven can make them. Once you get the heat of the pan right- neither too hot nor too cool- you can’t go wrong. They’re great for a weekend away camping or on a hired boat- just measure the dry ingredients into labelled Ziploc bags before leaving home and add the wet ingredients just before cooking.

These quantities make 15-20 pancakes. The usual serving is 3-5 each (and upwards after a late night!), so make a double quantity if you have more than four people to feed. As the cook does not get to leave his/her station until all the pancakes are made, it can make sense to run two pans side by side.

Ingredients for buttermilk pancakes

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups plain flour
  • ½ cup fine wholemeal flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon bread soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled


  • Frozen Blackberries
  • Stewed apple
  • Irish honey
  • Glenisk natural yogurt

(outside of Eat Only Irish for a Week, serve with imported chopped bananas, maple syrup, chopped nuts…whatever you like. Next month, buy Irish strawberries, raspberries, loganberries etc, or, better still, pick them from your own garden)


  • Mix all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl
  • In another bowl whisk eggs, add buttermilk and mix well.
  • Add wet ingredients to dry , mixing well.
  • At the same time, melt the butter on a pancake pan, then whisk into mixture
  • Keep butter by the hob to regrease the pan ever so lightly after every batch of pancakes.
  • Use one ladle of pancake batter for each pancake.

Heat pan to a high-medium heat, cook pancakes for a few minutes on one side, then turn with a fish slice. Don’t leave the pan as they cook quickly and could burn. The second side cooks in one or two minutes.

The smell of pancakes cooking brings everyone to the table.  Listen to the silence as they eat.  Enjoy the praise.


-Odlum’s used to mill fine ground wholemeal. It disappeared from the shelves during the boom so I e-mailed them to ask why. The response was that less people were baking, and that demand had dropped. The one I use since then is available in Northern Ireland- the pancakes taste much better with some fine wholemeal flour. Let’s hope that Odlum’s find it worth their while to begin milling it again, now that the boom is over.

– Every grain of sugar consume in Ireland is now imported.  Gone are the pyramids of sugar beet stacked on the roadside in September, waiting for the sugar factory lorry to collect them.  Sugar beet grow well in Irish soil- it’s a disgrace that we have to buy imported sugar, and that our labelling laws allow misleading signs on its packaging.

– Cinnamon is included even though it came a long way from Sri Lanka.  You can leave it out if you’re a purist.  I’m allowing myself the flexibility to drink imported coffee and tea next week rather than go into withdrawal ….it is a compromise but the Hippocratic principle applies in my kitchen as in other areas – “First, Do no Harm”

-My Sister-in-law, Gina, gathered the first honey from her first hive last week.  It tastes unbelievably good, with an amazing complexity of flavour.  Hard to believe that her bees created it in Drumcondra- she reckons they must know their way to the Botanic Gardens! Thanks to her honey, these pancakes were the best we have ever tasted.

About haysparks

Viewing the world, the human condition, our history, evolution and health through the prism of food.
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6 Responses to Buttermilk Pancakes

  1. Kristin says:

    Pancakes are a regular part of our family breakfasts too – we have them every Saturday morning, without fail. I’m the cook in the family, but this is the one thing my husband makes and the kids love to help. Win-win! I love having any leftovers as snacks for the kids throughout the weekend (if they last that long).

  2. WiseMona says:

    Wow – the honey! I am so jealous. Next time you are in my neck of the woods drop me a line and we can have tea ;0)
    We love buttermilk pancakes here too and will be having them tomorrow morning. Breakfast of ‘exam’ champions!

  3. Liz says:

    So “Eat Irish Only” – is that a national effort for those who care to join it? Or something you do on occasion? Either way, I like it. For my birthday this year, I’m hosting an “ethnic” potluck…only you have to bring something that represents your ethnicity, or your national heritage…I’ve got some Swedish, Irish, Czech, and Russian in me, so I’ll be watching your blog closely this week for ideas!

    • haysparks says:

      The “Eat Only Irish” for a week campaign was the initiative of the guys at Castlemine Farm ( http://www.castleminefarm.ie). In the face of deepening recession and bewilderment in our country, they proposed that the one thing you COULD do about it was to begin eating what we grow on this lush green island of ours, to grow our own veggies and fruit and to treasure what we have rather than coveting what we haven’t. It generated quite a buzz in May last year and I expect it will be bigger this year, once the growing season starts.

  4. Liz says:

    oops! I got here through some random link and didn’t see how old this post was…now I’ll just look through the rest of the recipes…

  5. siobhan says:

    Hi, I also have a baking blog, would love if you checked it out! Thanks 🙂

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