Pittsburgh's Finest Diner Pancakes

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Recipe photo
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 4 large pancakes

Recipe photo

Pamela's Diner, with six outposts in and around Pittsburgh, is justly famous for its oversized pancakes. Light and buttery, thinner than regular pancakes but thicker than crêpes, people rave about their crisp edges and wonderful texture. In fact, a certain President liked owner Pam Cohen's pancakes so much, he invited her and co-owner Gail Klingensmith to the White House to cook their signature cakes in person!

Our version of these cakes, based on some "hints" Pamela's has dropped about their secret recipe, produces pancakes we feel are close to the original; but since we've never been to Pamela's Diner, we can't know for certain. Attention, Pamela's fans: try these pancakes, and let us know how they stack up — pun intended!

Pittsburgh's Finest Diner Pancakes

star rating (22) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time: Overnight,
Yield: 4 large pancakes
Published: 01/02/2013

Ingredients

Tips from our bakers

  • The "authentic" way to serve these pancakes is spread with sour cream, sprinkled with brown sugar, topped with sliced strawberries, and rolled — think blintz. We love them that way (and substituting yogurt for the sour cream won't noticeably diminish their wonderful flavor); or simply as is (not rolled), topped with a drizzle of maple syrup.
  • Want to double this recipe to make 8 pancakes? Not a problem. Double everything except the yeast, which can remain at 1/2 teaspoon.

Directions

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1) In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together everything except the egg, stirring until fairly smooth; a few small lumps can remain.

2) Tent the bowl lightly with plastic, and allow it to rest at room temperature for 3 hours; it'll start to bubble just a bit.

3) Refrigerate the batter overnight.

4) Just before cooking the pancakes, stir in the beaten egg.

5) Heat a 9" or 10" skillet over medium heat; or heat a 9" or 10" electric skillet to 300°F; or heat a griddle that's at least 9" to 10" wide, and easy to pick up and handle.

6) Place 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon butter into the skillet, swirling them around until the butter melts. Yes, use 1 teaspoon each; this is what will give the pancakes their signature crisp edges.

7) Pour a scant 1/2 cup batter into the pan, tilting the pan until the batter forms a circle about 9" in diameter. It's important that you do this quickly, before the pancake has a chance to set; the thin edges that result from tilting the pan to distribute the batter become wonderfully crispy.

8) Cook the pancake for about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, or until its underside is golden brown. Flip it over, and cook about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes more, until golden.

9) Transfer to a plate (or lightly greased baking sheet, if you want to keep the pancake warm in the oven while you cook the remainder). Repeat with the remaining batter.

10) Serve the pancakes with butter and syrup. Or spread sour cream (or whipped cream, or yogurt), layer strawberries down the center, and roll like a blintz.

Yield: 4 large pancakes.

Reviews

1 23  All  
  • star rating 02/02/2015
  • Isabel from Hendersonville, North Carolina
  • I cooked them in a crepe skillet and they came out beautifully. Just one problem: I don't like the yeasty flavor. Recommendation with reservations for people who might not like the yeasty flavor, which reminds me a bit of sourdough, which I don't like.
  • star rating 01/11/2015
  • Emily from Pittsburgh
  • I visit Pamela's often and found these to be a close proxy! Love being able to get them most-of-the-way-ready the night before.
  • star rating 10/19/2014
  • Scot from Bangor, Maine
  • I had trouble fully cooking them on medium heat without burning them. Lower heat worked better for me.
  • star rating 05/22/2014
  • Ekaterina from VA
  • Absolutely delicious! I doubled the recipe. Kids loved it!!!
  • star rating 05/14/2014
  • Sandy from Pittsburgh, PA
  • I have been looking for the Pamela's pancake recipe for literally years, and this is it! They turned out great--thank you so much for sharing!!
  • star rating 10/28/2013
  • Anne from yardley
  • While this was especially easy to prepare (and I gave it an extra star because it's ready to go in the morning, just add the egg), I didn't find them to be very tasty. I liked the crispy edges and the lightness of them, but I have had more flavorful ones based on a Land o Lakes recipe . I recommend this for those who may like to have these prepared in advance rather than rush in the AM to make them.
  • star rating 08/04/2013
  • Cynthia from Emporia, Kansas
  • I hate to sound like a party (Pamela?) pooper, but the two stars I gave this recipe are for taste only. Even that wasn't spectacular in my opinion; they tasted like my buttermilk pancakes if I left the batter overnight and thinned it out with milk. I don't know what happened-did anyone else have a problem with the cakes tearing and falling apart when turning them? I tried three big spatulas in succession and finally resorted to making tiny pancakes. Even with those, I had about three that looked presentable. The rest were torn up. They did taste good with the microwave jam recipe from KAF-now, THAT is a keeper! But otherwise I won't make these again. I followed the recipe exactly down to using KAF unbleached all purpose flour. Big mess in the kitchen and frustrating in the cooking process (the prep was easy though.)
    It sounds like the batter was a bit too thin, actually. When a pancake sticks like that and is also too fragile to flip, it likely is due to batter heavy on the milk. Also, the fat in the pan is INCREDIBLY important to how these pancakes bake up. I would read the blog to see how the batter looks, but we do have plenty of other flapjack recipes to try! Kim@KAF


  • 06/23/2013
  • beverly from mass
  • i made these and they came out wonderful my question is how long can they keep nice easy recipe and yummy!!!!
    Hmm, these pancakes should freeze relatively well. You should be able to keep them for 3-4 weeks if kept frozen. However, I fear they will become quite soggy if kept in your refrigerator for any length of time.-Jon
  • star rating 06/20/2013
  • ask from KAF Community
  • I'll try again. I made these about 4 months ago and wrote a long love letter review but it was never posted. This is worth the effort of making it up the night before. They are very special pancakes, beyond delicious. Even the fussy grandchildren swooned. Thank you KA!
  • star rating 04/22/2013
  • THenn from Pittsburgh, PA
  • I've lived in Pittsburgh for 6 months and am already in love with Pamela's pancakes. I searched for a recipe to try and duplicate their deliciousness at home and found your blog. These aren't exactly the same as Pamela's but they are a VERY good substitute. I will continue to make the trip to Pamela's because there is no way I can put together what they do there at home (pancakes, those yummy potatoes and all the other great options). Thanks for this recipe, but now you've spoiled me and I will probably never make regular pancakes again!
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