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I can't make pancakes better than a mix

I keep trying recipes for pancakes but I can't match the taste I get from Trader Joe's buttermilk pancake mix. I don't even make the mix according to the package directions, I nix the eggs and just mix with milk. They have so much flavor, either plain or with added blueberries or raspberries. When I make the mix with eggs I don't like the flavor as much.

I was out of mix this past weekend so I made some from scratch and it couldn't even compare. Am I doing something wrong? The recipe I used was very basic, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, egg, sour milk (milk with lemon juice) and melted butter. It looked fine, cooked fine but the taste was so bland. Trader Joe's mix has so much flavor.

Anyone have a basic pancake recipe that they love? I do like a thick yet fluffy pancake, not the thin kind.

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  1. Why mess with success? Just stick with the mix if it works for you.

    Remember "New Coke"? Don't fix what's not broken.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Yeah, that's what I'm thinking. However, I'm a "from scratch" baker and I find it slightly annoying that my homemade pancakes don't taste as good as box mix!

      1. re: Jpan99

        Some things are not worth the effort, despite one's "principles" about baking from scratch. I have embraced the box mix without shame! (I still lie about using boxed cake mixes though)

    2. I've never tried TJ's mix, but when I make pancakes at home, I use a mix of flours, including white, whole wheat, oat, etc. This gives a better flavor and texture. I don't like pancakes made with plain white flour, though, so this may not be what you're looking for.

      I agree with the others, though. If you like something, why change it?

      1. Unlike the OP, I don't like the thick American style pancakes. For my wafer thin ones, the batter is so easy (makes about 10):

        110g plain flour
        2 eggs
        200ml milk combined with 75ml water

        Add the eggs to the flour and gradually add the liquid. Simple. It's never occured to me to use a mix (I'm not sure I knew it existed)

        4 Replies
        1. re: Harters

          I call that a crepe batter. You would get something closer to the American pancake if you used self-rising flour.

          1. re: paulj

            We call that a pancake batter - I do have access to a recipe for the thick American style pancakes, but they are not to my taste (http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/flu...)

            1. re: Harters

              I looked up pancakes using the search box in your link, Harters....and got photos and recipes for crepes! I like those very much, also...along with all sorts of "American" pancakes, including whole grain, multi-grain, etc.

              They're all very good IMO.

              1. re: sandylc

                The French call them crepes; Britons call them pancakes.

        2. There aren't many flavor components in a basic pancake recipe. It could be that the mix is higher in salt than your recipe. It doesn't have to be high, but most baked goods taste flat without salt, especially if there isn't much sugar (1/2t salt per 2c flour is about right for me). Does the mix list malt in some form, such as malted barley? That's a mild sweetener, with a more complex flavor than plain sugar.

          I usually make my pancake batter from scratch, not because I have anything against a mix like TJs, but because I like to play with variations. For example my latest batch included a small sweet potato (diced and cooked in the microwave before adding to the batter), white whole wheat, and oat bran.

          1 Reply
          1. re: paulj

            Paulj, I think you are right about the salt. I also use the TJ's pancake mix and it does seem salty, which I do not object to...

          2. Have you tried scratch pancakes using buttermilk instead of regular or "soured" milk? It's a game-changer in my book.
            That cook be the taste you are looking for, since your TJ mix is the buttermilk kind.

            1 Reply
            1. re: iluvcookies


              You can get powdered dried buttermilk, which is really good. (Saco is the brand I use.)

            2. The Joy of Cooking has a section on pancakes and I only make mine from scratch using this recipe. Is it possible that Trader Joe's mix have vanilla or flavorings that you like which homemade do not have? You could certainly add any flavoring you want to your mix. As well you are using buttermilk mix so try a recipe made with Buttermilk.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Ruthie789

                Come to think it, I've only bought the TJ multigrain mix. I can't find an online ingredients list, but there are several bloggers who rave about their mix.

                1. re: Ruthie789

                  In was about to post that I do the Joy of Cooking buttermilk pancakes. They are fantastic.

                  1. re: CanadaGirl

                    I like the JoC buttermilk pancakes too. And the four grain is also good. But really, using sour milk in scratch is NOT as good as buttermilk, especially if you have access to a higher class of organic buttermilk.

                    The key is some salt, sugar, and butter in the mix + buttermilk of course.

                    I also like the JoC four grain pancakes and I sub in buttermilk there too.

                  2. re: Ruthie789

                    Ruthie, that's what I was going to suggest, too. I usually use Joy's recipes for pancakes. Though I made some killer cornmeal pancakes from an internet blog last weekend, froze the extras, and just pop them in the toaster when I want one.
                    My mother learned from my grandmother, who was Slovak, to use sour milk for her pancakes, and they were delicious. But it's not that easy to schedule a bottle of sour milk. The 'soured' ones with lemon or vinegar just aren't the same, so I have to use buttermilk.

                  3. Ok, here are the ingredients from the box. I hope it's not delicious because of salt!!

                    Ingredients: Unbleached enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid, may contain malted barley flour, enzymes, ascorbic acit), leavening (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, monocalcium phosphate), buttermilk, canola and/or soybean oil, dextrose, salt.

                    1/2 cup of mix has 900 mg of sodium or 38% of daily value. Ugh, it's the salt. No wonder it's delicious!

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Jpan99

                      I am not surprised...lol.. And it is delicious..

                      1. re: Jpan99

                        Jpan, you do add salt to homemade ones as well and baking soda and baking powder. Do try a homemade mixture using buttermilk as that is what you seem to like.

                        1. re: Jpan99

                          How many grams of sugar too (dextrose)?

                          1. re: Jpan99

                            "........malted barley flour"
                            also known as diastatic malt. A known flavor and texture improver
                            but yea, I would have also guessed more salt.

                            1. re: splatgirl

                              And diastatic malt powder can be used at home - I put it in my bagels. So the OP's new homemade pancakes could potentially contain real buttermilk, malt, and more salt. I like a bit of vanilla, as well.

                          2. It might be that TJ puts more salt in their pancakes. Things to try to up the flavor for yours:

                            add a trifle more salt
                            add a couple drops of vanilla and perhaps a drop of almond flavoring
                            use either unbleached white flour or a mix of whole wheat and unbleached white flours
                            try buttermilk instead of sour milk (read the labels of buttermilk cartons. I've found some really icky imitation buttermilks recently. I recommend Organic Valley buttermilk as the best I've ever tasted.)
                            Let the pancake batter rest a few minutes before pouring a portion on the hot griddle.

                            You could read the ingredient list for a clue as to what it is you are missing from your own pancakes. It might just be extra sugar, frankly.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: sueatmo

                              I too have searched high and low for a fluffy tasty pancake. This recipe is a winner for me. If you are looking for a 'spongy' texture this is not it. These are fluffy, not dense. I rarely wait the hour that it calls for and they still taste great. Oh, and I rarely thaw the blueberries ahead either.


                            2. I'm really with the "Flow with it" camp, if only because this is not a bigtime pancake-eating household and the mixes are all good. I use mostly KrustEaze nowadays, though I'm getting some fond memories of Aunt Jemima's with its dash of cornmeal. I've even used both Pioneer and Bisquick mixes, but wheat-flour-only sorta bores me. Mrs. O likes blueberries in hers, not much syrup and no butter; I see pancakes as a delivery system for butter and Vermont's best, preferably Grade B. Easy enough to accommodate both of us.