Yes, you definitely can (and should) make pillowy pancakes from whole wheat flour.
So. You're obviously here because you want to make fluffier pancakes. You know what I'm talking about: soft, pillowy beds of (carbs?) absolutely PERFECT for soaking up all that sweet, sticky maple syrup and those delicious toppings. Is your mouth watering yet? Let's get to it
Step #1: Sift the dry stuff.
This seems like a really obvious and boring thing to do, but it truly does make a difference. Sifting the flour not only aerates it to be fluffier, but also ensures that the leaveners and dry spices will get thoroughly combined.
Step #2: Activate your leaveners.
Think you got it covered because you added baking soda? Think again. Leaveners like baking powder or baking soda will add lift to your result, but the real way to give them a boost is by adding some kind of acid(I think?) to react with the baking soda, as this will form carbon dioxide bubbles. That way, when you flip the pancake, it will automatically bloom up because of the reaction. My favorite way to achieve this is to add yogurt, but if you're vegan, feel free to experiment with a tablespoon or two of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar(mix it into your plant-based milk). But be careful- if your baking powder and soda is expired, it will leave your pancakes flat and thin. But still delicious..
Step #3: Separate your eggs.
Most people I know have basic pancake recipes. Mix some dry ingredients together, and add in a whole egg to the wet ingredients as usual, right? Wrong. The best way to give your pancakes that extra puff is to add the yolk into the batter like normal, then gently fold in the white at the end, right before you make your pancakes. The result is a noticeably bouncier cake than if you would've just added the whole egg, and makes you feel as if you were eating, I kid you not, a cloud.
(If you don't use eggs/are vegan, there aren't many good alternatives for eggs that BOTH bind and fluff up the pancakes. However, a combination of a tablespoon of oil with 1/4 cup of applesauce, mashed banana, or pumpkin puree PLUS an extra teaspoon of leavening(think baking powder or soda) should help.)
Step #4: Don't pre-make the batter.
When you prepare the batter and leave it like that(especially overnight), I find that the batter loosens and yields flat(but still delicious!) pancakes. Ideally, you want to make the batter right before you cook the pancakes; this will ensure that they don't lose any of their fluff. You do want a short rest period of them so the flour starches will expand, but that is about 10 minutes or so. As a general rule, try not to keep it made for more than 15 minutes before making! Don't stress too much about it though; 16 minutes won't do much to your pancakes!
Now, how to achieve that perfect breakfast stack with a recipe? Keep reading!
Extra Fluffy Pancakes
Course: Breakfast(or any other time, no judgement here;)
Author: Prachi Marfatia
Serves: 2 HUNGRY people(maybe 3 small appetites:)
2 cup whole wheat or all purpose flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs, separated*
3/4 cup yogurt + 3/4 cup water OR 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon or vanilla extract(optional)
Sift(a second time) the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon if using. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until soft but firm peaks form, in a clean, large bowl. In another bowl, combine the egg yolks ONLY and buttermilk/yogurt into one liquid mixture. Pour this into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Heat a pan on medium flame for 3-4 minutes, and fold in the preferably whipped egg whites very gently. (If you don't have a hand mixer or just don't want to use it, you can also fold in the unwhipped egg white at the end, with a little more mixing.)
Now ladle a small scoop of batter onto your greased pan, flip after a minute or two, repeat, and enjoy!