How to make edges on pancakes be crispy and the inside soft
There are two things at play here, and unfortunately it'll take you some trial and error to get this right.
The first is heat control. You might want to try cooking at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time. This will cook the outsides very fast and the insides slightly more slowly. However, you don't want to raise the heat too much or you'll just burn the outside and be nearly raw on the inside. Yuck.
The second is going to be your batter consistency. A thicker batter that rises a little more will take longer to cook into the middle. If you're having trouble having the middle stay soft, add a little more flour and/or a little more baking powder.
As I said, this will take some trial and error. You may want to invest in a good IR temperature reader, to get an accurate reading of how hot your pan is to assist with the experimentation.
You don't need a thermometer to get the correct heat for cooking pancakes -- get some water on your finger, and flick a drop onto the dry pan -- if the drop sizzles away instantly, it's too hot. If it just sits there, it's too cold. If it starts levitating like it's a hovercraft and runs around the pan, it's the right temp. (and I scrolled down, I saw @JustRightMenus posted the same thing as a reply to @nocorelius' answer). ...but the third, and most important part for crispiness is @MikeSherov's answer -- fat.
"Need" is a funny word. Dropping water on a pan is fine for throwing something together for breakfast or for a recipe that you already know, but if you want to develop a specific recipe with specific traits, the more accurate you are, the better. You can always simplify later.
This is all about getting the pancake to fry: use a vegetable oil, and make sure your griddle is hot (but not too hot as to cause the oil to burn) before you start making the pancakes. This allows the edges to start to crisp before the cooking process dries out the pancake.
*Vegetable* oil? Sacrilege! Pancakes should be fried in rendered pork fat, preferably from the bacon sizzling nearby... ;-)
Agreed with Knives on the fat selection, but the critical part to getting the edges crispy is that you have enough fat in the pan so the edges fry.
The best way to do exactly what you have asked is to use a cast iron pan. Start it out hot, but before the cure starts to smoke. Add some veggie oil (or butter or lard, but don't burn it) and make sure it will cover the pan and almost change consistency because it's quite hot. You can tell because it will get less viscous.
Pour a tester cake on there (about the size of a silver dollar) to test the heat. If this works, start your cake and enjoy.
I used to be a big fan of Bisquick, but my wife has me converted to super dank from-scratch batter. Either way, this hot cast iron method should give you those crispy edges you desire. A cast iron griddle will do the same, but I have found these warp in a convex way, making them less desirable for pancakes.
I've been using coconut oil a lot lately for cooking. It has it's benefits, but with regards to this post, I've found it fries batter quite nicely.
As an aside, I like to fry corn tortillas in about 3/8 inch coconut oil for homemade taco shells ;-)
Another way to tell if the cast iron is hot enough is that a bit of water will "skitter," or "dance," around on the pan. If it instantly evaporates, the pan's too hot. If it just sits there, the pan's too cool.
Yah, great point... Forgot to mention that. Actually, although probably not the most sanitary way to do it: I actually wash my hands often in the kitchen, and when they are clean, I "flick" some of the water from my hand onto the hot cast iron, oiled pan to get your "skittered" effect.
I like them that way, this is what I do:
Make my batter from scratch, I do it by eye now so don't remember the measurements.
Something like this:
1 - 2 eggs mixed into milk to make a cup
2 + cups of flour
tablespoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of baking powder
4 tablespoons of melted butter, not margarine (coolish)
add the dry ingredients together in a bowl and wisk well or sift together or stir really good with a fork or something.
make a well in the center of the dry stuff and pour in the milk/egg(s)
pour the melted butter onto the milk egg mix and immediately mix it up...some lumps are normal and expected. You should have a fairly thin batter, if you think it's too thin, add flour, to thick? Add more milk. Thinner pancakes crisp up better at the edges.
Note: if your pancakes have a kind of mottled appearance with some browning and some white spots, I told you to put in too much baking powder, reduce it next time.
pre heat a heavy pan (I use a cast iron griddle) to where butter will just start smoking
put about a teaspoon of butter (the real stuff) in the middle of the pan and let it melt a bit, then pour the batter over it, surrounding it with batter.
Note: increasing the butter increases the crispyness of the edges.
when the bubbles at the edge of the pancake are set(they stay open), turn it.
as soon as you pull the first pancake out, repeat the butter and pour bit, keep doing this until all the pancakes you want are cooked.
I usually eat one while I am cooking more then call people in as they come off the griddle, these are best when freshest.
Note: I have added everything I could ever think of to this recipe, except chocolate chips...sliced banana, oranges, flavored yoghurt, peanut butter, all kinds of nuts, crumbled bacon, garlic (once), onion both fresh and carmalized, cheese, blueberries, rasins, currents etc. Used to let one of the kids pick something out to add. Loads of fun!
Oh yeah, real maple syrup is matchless. It's expensive but you use a LOT less of it, and anyone that puts their plate in the sink with a big pool of this stuff on it gets dirty looks. Takes a bit of training, but is worth it.
Fat + Heat + Richer Batter
More fat will help the pancakes fry and crisp. More heat will help the fat fry and crisp the pancakes. A richer batter will help the pancake fry in the pan.
I actually prefer very thin, crispy pancakes and I find that using a "Swedish" pancake mix aids in producing thinner and crispier pancakes.
Almost everyone here is wrong. I also love crispy edge pancakes, its the only ones I will eat! Ever notice that your first pancake usually has the crispy edges and then the rest do not?
Here is how to do it:
Make batter slightly thinner than normal. Have pan slightly cooler than usual. Add a good amount of butter to the pan (enough so it pools very slightly in spots) (not soaked though). Add batter to pan. Spread batter thinner than normal, not super thin though). There should be melted butter around the edges. Now turn the heat up a little bit.
Tips: 1.You want the pan cooler when you put batter in, cool enough so that you must turn up heat to cook. 2.You want melted butter all around the edges. 3. You want the pancake to cook slowly. 4. You want the butter around the edges to fry/crisp the edges. 5. In order to make more than one, I recommend cleaning your pan between each pancake. (If not, the 2nd will never come out as good as the first. 6. Practice, using the correct temps, amount of butter, and cooking time is crucial!