Dessert vs. Breakfast
When Sherry Yard was pastry chef at Spago in Beverly Hills, she had a kaiserschmarrn, or Austrian torn pancake, on her menu. Margarita Manzke, then a cook at Patina, frequented Spago with her husband, Walter, just for that pancake. These days, the couple operates République, a French bistro in Los Angeles, where the weekend brunch menu includes Margarita’s Austrian Apple Pancake, her ode to Yard’s kaiserschmarrn. “I thought kaiserschmarrn would be a great way to feature a seasonal fruit, kind of a blank canvas,” Manzke says. “I do it my own way.” While a traditional kaiserschmarrn is composed of torn-up pancake strips, Manzke serves hers whole, placing fruit on the bottom of the pan and topping it with ice cream and powdered sugar.
Get the recipe: Austrian Apple Pancake
Red, White, and Blue All Over
Cornmeal has been used in American pancakes since colonial times (American Cookery, the first cookbook published in the United States, features three recipes for cornmeal pancakes). At Panxa Cocina in Long Beach, California, chef-owner Arthur Gonzalez uses blue corn, indigenous to New Mexico, to make these hearty, light Blue Corn Piñon Pancakes. To soften cornmeal’s gritty texture, Gonzalez soaks it in boiling water before using it in the batter, then tops the blue pancakes with pine nuts and piloncillo syrup, a nod to his Mexican heritage.
Get the recipe: Blue Corn Piñon Pancakes
The Fluff Factor
The latest trend to go viral on social media? Soufflé pancakes. Beyond their trademark height, they have a mesmerizing jiggle, as seen in hundreds of videos on Instagram. Soufflé pancakes started gaining traction in 2014 in Osaka, Japan, and are now trickling into the United States thanks to people like Jack Poon and pastry chef Sung Taek, of Fluffy’s NYC, who sell their take on Japanese Soufflé Pancakes at Smorgasburg, Brooklyn’s open-air food market. For maximum height, Poon separates out the egg yolks and whips the whites until stiff and airy—just like in a regular soufflé—then places the finished batter in a piping bag to control a clean, even circle that’s shaped directly in the pan.
Get the recipe: Japanese Soufflé Pancakes
Greg Baxtrom, the chef and owner of Brooklyn restaurants Olmsted and Maison Yaki, isn’t a pancake person, at least not when it comes to the sugary kind. But savory is the other side of the flapjack, and that’s where Baxtrom’s Cauliflower Okonomiyaki fits in. At Maison Yaki, Baxtrom melds Japanese techniques with French flavors for a hybrid that reflects his restaurant’s identity. He tops the pancake with yuzu mayonnaise and hazelnuts and makes cauliflower the star of the dish, using the vegetable in three different ways: Big, flat pieces are tossed in with the batter, medium-size bits are pureed, and tiny scraps the size of couscous are sprinkled on top of the finished pancake. The varying textures help cauliflower come through in every bite.
Get the recipe: Cauliflower Okonomiyaki
Bill Granger, the Australian restaurateur who has become synonymous with easygoing comfort foods, sells 25,000 Ricotta Hotcakes every week across his 19 restaurants in Sydney, Seoul, Japan, London, and Honolulu. (He calls them hotcakes because the batter is mostly ricotta, milk, and whipped egg whites, while the main ingredient in pancakes is flour.) Ricotta doesn’t add much in the way of flavor, but it lightens and moistens the batter, yielding hotcakes that nearly melt in your mouth. They’re made even more indulgent with a topping of crumbled honeycomb toffee.
Get the recipe: Ricotta Hotcakes
Croque Madame 2.0
In 2015, Jonathan Brooks became the first chef to win the Food & Wine Best New Chef award without serving dinner. Brooks’ Indianapolis restaurant, Milktooth, is all about breakfast. There are always two Dutch babies on the menu: a sweet one driven by seasonal fruit (think cherry pie or peach Melba) and a savory one inspired by global dishes, like this Polenta Dutch Baby with Ham and Swiss. “For us, Dutch babies have a lot of wow factor but don’t take someone standing over a griddle and flipping, so they’re economical,” Brooks says. It’s a crowd-pleasing lunch or brunch pancake—once it’s out of the oven, its puffed-up center gradually sinks down to yield a rich, savory round that’s light and airy in the center with a hint of chewiness and crisp, toasted edges.
Get the recipe: Polenta Dutch Baby with Ham and Swiss
Our New Favorite Syrups and Drizzles
Carr's Cidehouse Syrup
Hit up your local beekeepers for fresh, unpasteurized honey; the delicate, floral notes are easy to pick up and savor against the neutral backdrop of pancakes.
Corn Cob Syrup
The secret to the light flavor of this corn cob syrup, which comes from Amana, Iowa, is in boiling the cobs. The cob-infused water is strained and made into a syrup that’s earthy and sweet ($6, amanashops.com) .
Runamok Maple Sugarmaker’s Cut Season’s Best Organic Maple Syrup
Eric and Laura Sorkin, the founders of Runamok in Vermont, consider this syrup to be the very best of the season—so good that they bottle it for themselves (hence the name Sugarmaker’s Cut)—and F&W editors agree. For a unique twist on classic maple, try one of Runamok’s other infused, smoked, or barrel-aged flavors ($30, amazon.com) .
Stonewall Kitchen Syrups
Raspberry syrup adds a burst of acidity that works well with any pancake, from lemon ricotta to chocolate chunk; blueberry syrup can stand in for our Blackberry-Piloncillo Syrup (starting at $7.50, amazon.com).