February 14 — the sweetest day of the year — falls on a Sunday in 2021. Why not start the day off right by saying “I love you” with a delicious breakfast? Even better: Make it a pancake breakfast.

Making the perfect pancake begins with the right equipment. You can’t go wrong with pairing a natural gas range with a griddle. Whether your griddle is a built-in or cookware that is placed over the burners, teaming it with the precision cooking capabilities of natural gas ensures quick and easy preparation — perfect pancakes for your sweetheart.

You can’t go wrong with pairing a natural gas range with a griddle to make perfect pancakes for your sweetheart.

Besides pancakes, a griddle is a handy choice for cooking foods such as meats and fried rice, especially in large quantities. If you’re planning to add a stovetop griddle to your cookware arsenal before V-Day, you’ll find plenty of moderately priced choices available. Sizes range from one that will cover a single burner up to an option that can cover the entire stovetop.

Pancake aficionados say a cast iron griddle is the ideal cookware to pair with a natural gas stove. Cast iron evenly distributes the heat from a gas burner across the griddle surface. Plus, delicate batter won’t stick to a well-seasoned cast iron griddle.

If you’re in the market for a cast iron griddle, take a look at products made by Lodge in nearby South Pittsburg, Tenn. They are durable and well made. The Lodge Reversible Grill/Griddle ($40) is big enough to cover two burners. It has a smooth side for pancakes and eggs, and a ribbed side for meat.

Better batter

No matter what recipe you choose, the perfect pancake is the result of correctly prepared batter. Some pointers from professional chefs:

  • Over mixing batter results in tough pancakes. Mix until just combined. It’s okay if some lumps remain.
  • Mix dry ingredients together, and the wet together separately before combining them. This helps to avoid over mixing.
  • Let batter set for 15 minutes before placing on griddle. Pancakes will be fluffier if you allow time for the starch to be absorbed into the liquid ingredients.
  • Don’t add fruit, chocolate chips or other add-ins until batter is dropped on the griddle. Otherwise, they will sink to the bottom of the bowl and not be evenly distributed in the batter.

BONUS TIP: Want fluffier pancakes? Separate egg yolks from the whites. Mix the yolks with other wet ingredients. Beat the whites until stiff peaks form and add them to the batter right before cooking.

Get your griddle on

While your batter is setting, get your griddle ready to go.

The ideal griddle temperature for pancakes is 375°F, or a medium setting for gas stovetop burners. Achieving the correct cooking temperature is key to making a perfect pancake. An overheated griddle will burn pancakes on the outside and undercook them on the inside. If the griddle is under heated, your pancakes will cook too much on the inside before they appear golden and done on the outside.

Preheat the griddle. Then, test the temperature by dropping a bit of water on the preheated surface. If it sizzles without dissolving right away, the temperature is correct for pancakes. If it dissolves immediately, lower the temperature and retest.

Once you’ve poured batter on the griddle, be patient. Flip each pancake only once. And don’t press down on it with the spatula. Remember: Excessive flipping and pressing removes all the fluffy texture, resulting in a tough pancake.

Pancakes they’ll flip for

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with one of these pancake recipes your sweetie is sure to love.

Red Velvet Pancakes with Cream Cheese Topping is a classic from the Betty Crocker cookbook.

Whole Wheat Cherry Pancakes, a recipe shared by Whole Foods, uses fresh cherries. Delicious!

Strawberry Sprinkle Funfetti Pancakes, a recipe from Better Baking Bible, is a kid pleaser.

Peanut Butter Cup Pancakes from food blogger Christin Mahrlig combines a traditional buttermilk recipe with America’s favorite candy.