After weeks busy with the holiday hustle and bustle, spend Christmas morning in your pajamas surrounded by twinkling lights and enjoying jazzy carols on the turntable. There is no need to rush to the kitchen to measure flour, milk, and sugar because the only things this morning's pancakes need are two eggs and a hot pan. Mix the batter before Santa's sleigh arrives and stash it in the fridge overnight to develop a rich, satisfying flavor. Simply said, overnight yeast-risen pancakes are a Christmas miracle.
A Special Pancake for a Special Breakfast
Our go-to Saturday morning pancakes puff quickly, thanks to chemical leaveners like baking powder and baking soda. Yeast-risen pancakes, however, take time to to build up bubbles and develop flavor, making them a perfect candidate for make-ahead morning feasts.
Yeast is a standard ingredient in breads and beer, but it also gives pancakes a soft, pillowy texture with a rich, tangy flavor. Stirring the batter together before setting out milk and cookies for Santa could not be easier. All it takes is a few simple steps before tucking the batter into the fridge for the night: Start by blooming the yeast, then stir in remaining ingredients (except the egg), and set aside to double in volume.
On Christmas morning, all that is left to do is to fold in a barely beaten egg — a tip from our lightest, fluffiest buttermilk pancakes — before griddling up pancakes with a remarkable lift.
Although maple syrup is the classic choice for drizzling over a tall stack of flapjacks, homemade orange-honey butter makes them truly worthy of a celebration. On Christmas Eve, while the batter bubbles and doubles on the countertop, pull out a stick of butter, some locally sourced honey, and an orange. Mash the zest, syrup, and butter together with a sprinkle of salt and nobody will miss the maple syrup.
Christmas Morning Pancakes
For the pancakes:
2 cups milk, warm to the touch (about 105°F)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus more for the pan
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
For the orange-honey butter:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest (from 1/2 large orange)
Make the pancake batter: Combine the milk, sugar, and yeast in a mixing bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes until foamy and smells yeasty. Whisk in the melted butter until completely incorporated.
In a very large bowl, whisk the flour and salt together. Pour the milk mixture over the flour mixture. Stir until you no longer see any dry flour; the batter will be lumpy and that is OK.
Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and set aside at warm room temperature until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes. Replace the kitchen towel with plastic wrap, then refrigerate the batter at least 8 hours or overnight. Meanwhile, make the orange-honey butter.
Make the orange-honey butter: Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer or stiff spatula and a bowl.) Process until creamy and well-combined, stopping 1 or 2 times to scrape down the sides of the bowl, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer to a serving dish, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
Make the pancakes: A half-hour before you want to begin cooking, take the pancake batter and orange-honey butter out of the refrigerator. Discard the plastic wrap from the pancake batter. Add the eggs and stir until incorporated, although it is okay to see streaks of egg white. The pancake batter will appear thick, viscous, and creamy; set aside.
Heat a large cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat and add a pat of butter. Once the butter melts, swirl the pan to coat. Use a 1/4-cup measure to drop the pancake batter into the skillet. The batter is quite thick, so the pancakes will not spread into perfectly round circles. Cook until the bottoms are golden-brown, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. The edges of the pancakes will appear dry and set, but you might not see bubbles rising to the surface as you do with other pancakes. Flip with a flat spatula and cook until the second side is golden-brown, about 2 minutes more. The first pancake or two might not turn out beautifully as you work to adjust the heat and gauge how quickly the pancakes cook.
Transfer the pancakes to a plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm, or serve in batches. (You can also put the pancakes in a 200°F oven to keep warm.) Continue cooking until all of the batter is used up, adding more butter to the pan and adjusting the heat as needed. Serve pancakes with the orange-honey butter.
- Storage: Leftover pancakes and orange-honey butter can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat pancakes in the toaster or microwave until warmed through.