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When I spend time with my nieces and nephew, Karcyn always asks me to make pancakes. Honestly, she’s a picky eater and has a long list of foods she refuses, which by the way, seems to change daily. What she will always eat are pancakes. This holds true for any age because who doesn’t love a good pancake? There is just something so special about a fluffy, warm buttermilk pancake.
A lot of times, we drench pancakes in syrup. And don’t get me wrong: I love my syrup. But since I aim to use what the garden is growing, in the early summer months I’ve started making variations of rhubarb sauce to use as syrup. Rhubarb is always good, but it’s even better with a little added orange. While I’m on a roll, what goes well with orange? Cardamom obviously! And that’s how these cardamom orange buttermilk pancakes came to be!
Maple syrup doesn’t happen that much in southeastern Iowa. Where I live, there isn’t an abundance of trees. Instead, it’s mostly flat farm ground. What I do have is rhubarb, a lot of rhubarb. In the spring, I make rhubarb everything… seriously. The redder the variety of rhubarb, the sweeter flavor it will have. No, not that sweet, but definitely sweeter. To enhance the flavor and add a little natural sweetness, I chose to add some strawberries. Cooked together with sugar, the rhubarb thickens everything and creates a sauce.
This is my basic go-to buttermilk pancake recipe. To up the flavor, I brown the butter. If you haven’t been introduced to brown butter, allow me. Butter is made up of approximately 80% milk fat, 16% water, and 4% salt with other milk solids. What this means is when you melt butter and slowly simmer it, the water is cooked off, leaving as steam. Once the water is gone, the solids start to cook and eventually turn brown. The brown solids are liquid gold. They’re toasted and contain a nutty aroma and taste. Browning butter adds a layer of flavor that is super satisfying.
You may be sensing a theme: these pancakes are all about layers of flavor. Cardamom is a warm spice that’s usually used in chai spice blends. It’s slowly become a mainstream spice, and I often find myself swapping out the cinnamon for cardamom for a change. In these buttermilk pancakes, cardamom is enhanced by the addition of orange. And when pair together, the orange and cardamom really play up the rhubarb and create a perfect combination.
If you’re ready for comfort food, make these pancakes. If you’re ready for something exciting, unique, and full of comfort, make these pancakes. You will love the flavors and everyone who eats these will be hooked.
Watch how to make these buttermilk pancakes
Buttermilk Pancakes with Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce
For the pancakes
- 1 ⅔ cups flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk
- 2 tbsp brown butter
- 1 tbsp orange zest
For the rhubarb sauce
- 2 cups diced rhubarb
- 1 cup strawberries (fresh or frozen)
- ½ cup orange juice (about 1 orange)
- ⅓ cup sugar
- To prepare the brown butter, in a small skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Bring the melted butter to a simmer. Continue to simmer until the bubbling subsides and tiny pieces of brown solids form, about 6-8 minutes. Set off the heat to cool.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, and salt. Whisk to combine.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk, slightly cooled brown butter, and orange zest.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until just combined with a few lumps remaining. Set aside and prepare the rhubarb sauce.
- In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the rhubarb, strawberries, orange juice, and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to simmer until the fruit has broken down and thickened into a sauce, 14-18 minutes. Keep warm while cooking the pancakes.
- To make the pancakes, preheat a griddle over medium-low heat for 6 minutes. Once heated, melt 1 tablespoon butter.
- Using a scoop, measure ¼ cup of batter and drop on griddle. Cook until bubbles form around the edges and the bottom is lightly browned, 1-2 minutes. Flip over and repeat on opposite side.
- Once cooked, remove from the griddle and place on a baking rack fitted in a baking sheet. Keep warm in a 200°F oven until all the pancakes are made.