I am very interested in what I like to call -- "the lore of our grandmothers." All of those strange and wonderful tidbits of advice that have been passed on through the generations... If you go in the woods keep a piece of bread in your pocket as a ward against fairies, throw salt over your shoulder into the devil's eyes, pour Dr. Pepper on your ham... I delight in all of this wisdom of the ages.
When I posted about Stewart's Shops "Vichy" soda a year or so ago I was advised via the tweeters that wise old Upstate New Yorkers have been using Vichy as an ingredient in pancakes! Haha! I live for this sort of stuff. I made a mental note to give this a go and have only this very morning gotten around to some experimentation.
In the original advice which I received it was stated that Vichy was used instead of buttermilk or milk. I suspect that this is not entirely true. Vichy contains Bicarbonate of Soda which will only act as a leavening agent in the presence of an acid. I suspect that wise ol' timey pancake wizards were supplementing their standard buttermilk (contains requisite acid) pancake recipes with a bit of the Vichy right before cooking to give the pancakes an extra bit of lift. At least this is my hypothesis... And I will be testing it in the future. But for starters I thought I might see if adding a bit of Vichy would do anything in and of itself when thrown into my standard workaday pancake recipe.
I don't like pale, flabby white flour pancakes. On the rare occasion that I want to eat a pancake I go with a whole wheat solution. My recipe is - 3/4 cup King Arthur white whole wheat flour, 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 egg, 4 tablespoons melted butter, salt, and around 1 1/2 cups whole milk. This time I dialed back the milk by 1/4 cup and was a bit conservative with the salt as Vichy is very salty.
What I did was to prepare the pancake batter as per usual and let it rest for 5 minutes while I heated the pan and what not. Right before cooking I stirred 1/4 cup of Vichy into the batter.
I did notice that the pancakes looked like they were getting a bit more lift than usual during cooking.
Perhaps the bicarbonate of soda in the Vichy reacts with the acid in the baking powder for some additional bubbly action. I don't think it could be the small amount of CO2 in the carbonation, but what am I? Some sort of scientist?
The pancakes cooked up very nice and brown but this is probably just because of my next level pancake skills.
It occurred to me afterwards that I really should have done a control group of pancakes sans the Vichy for comparison's sake. But that really sounds like a lot of work... So I probably will just rely on the very un-scientific opinion that it was the Vichy that was responsible for the fluffy-ass qualities of these particular pancakes.
I encourage everyone to conduct extensive at home research into this fascinating topic. I am tentatively going with the opinion that Stewart's Vichy adds strange and magical properties to pancake recipes.