How will we reach this colossal goal? One step at a time. And the first step is to start taking things out of the "basic pancake recipe" and seeing what happens.
* In order of decreasing desirability and increasing likelihood
** Or old husbands' tale, if you prefer. Or even young husbands' tale. OK, young domestic partners' tale.
*** These tiny, delicate pastries, if sentient, would most likely sneer at being so crassly referred to as "pancakes"
**** Well, maybe. Some situations require more fortitude than technique.
The "Basic Pancake" Recipe
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 cup milk*
Stir**. Cook***. Consume****.
**This seems (and should be) self explanatory, but there is apparently some controversy on the precise amount of stirring and the benefits therewith. Upcoming experiments will fathom these mysteries, but for now, let us say that stirring means stirring for about a minute, until the big lumps are gone but ultimate smoothness has not yet been reached.
*** Again, to set a standard, let's stick with the traditional method for now: get a pan hot, spray it with some no-stick spray, pour a circle of batter, wait about 3 minutes for bubbles, flip, wait another 2-3 minutes, and remove from the pan.
**** About three 5-inch pancakes.
Why It Matters
*Or, to be more precise, make two batches of pancakes, identical in every way save the existence or non-existence of butter. Perform visual inspections and blind taste tests to determine what (if any) differences exist between said pancakes. Draw conclusions accordingly.
Blind Taste Tests: My wife and I took turns closing our eyes and letting the other person feed us bites of pancake*. We then attempted to tell, through taste alone, which was better. After many "let me try the other one again"s and "hmm, it's really hard to tell"s, we both came to the same conclusion: there was almost no difference, but if we had to choose, there was one of them that seemed to have slightly better / fuller texture and maybe a little better flavor. This turned out to be the one without butter, for both of us, twice each.
*A much less romantic experience than it sounds, I assure you.
*OK, we've only proven that 1 tablespoon of butter doesn't do anything for pancakes. 1 cup of butter would definitely do something. Would it be something good? I doubt it, but maybe I'll have to try it someday. On the list of "things likely to improve my pancakes", though, it has just moved towards the bottom. It's still above "adding sawdust" and "eating raw", but it's far below "cooking at a different temperature" or "changing the amount of egg" or "stirring more / less". Those experiments will come first.