Pancakes little circles of love
Add the flour, the baking powder, salt and sugar to this bowl. Now about powder: If you can find it, use Rumford baking powder and not Clabber Girl. Okay, I know the same corporation, right, whatever, that Clabber Girl doesn't know squat about baking - stick to Rumford if you can find it. I'm serious. I take pancakes very seriously. Really. I used to use 5 tablespoons of sugar and actually now have pulled it down to three, but four is right out for me (not a prime number for one) but it might make a good place to start your experimentation. Too much and the pancakes might brown a bit too quickly.
Stir the dry ingredients a bit to combine them, you don't need to sift the flour (not since about 1977, really, look it up).
Add the eggs to the other bowl. You add the eggs first because if you are like me you have a four year old helping and there will be egg shells in the bowl and fishing them out is easier if there isn't already milk in there. Add the milk, the vanilla and the lemon juice, then as you whisk everything (gently) stream in the cooled butter. Don't overdo the whisking, just get things reasonably smooth. That is fine, you aren't making crepes.
Now add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Slowly. Carefully. Using a whisk. Not something with an electric cord or a motor. Don't mix them too much - if you overwork the batter here you should just pour it down the drain. The batter doesn't have to be smooth, just mixed. You want a batter that you can poor or spoon out easily but not really runny. You might need to add a bit more milk depending on the size of your eggs.
Toss the now empty bowl in the dishwasher or the sink (and hit it with some water first). The idea is to pack the dishwasher as you go so there is almost no cleanup at the end, only pancakes to eat. Focus!
You didn't put the wet ingredients into the dry did you? That's not what I said and it makes a difference. Throw it out and sacrifice something to the pancake deities for their forgiveness. I mean it. This is important!
I use 1/3 of a cup per pancake, but this is entirely up to you, your kids, and the size of your griddle. I cook the first side for approximately 63 seconds and the second side for 61 seconds. Approximately. This is just a measure of a qualitative judgment. You cook the first side until bubbles form and the bottom is golden brown, then flip and cook until the edges are just beginning to dry.
You'll need to practice your flipping technique, but the focus here is the pancake, not the flipping, not the cook. Pancakes. Pancakes! This is science! Science! Concentrate. Children are waiting.
You can get one of those cool pouring devices that give you the same amount of batter from every trigger pull, but I just use a measuring cup. Also make sure your turner/flipper is very thin-edged and clean. No, that is not a spatula, at least not where I come from.
If your pancake has a dusty texture to it once you've flipped it the first time, then the griddle is not hot enough, stop ruining batter and let the griddle come up to temperature.
About shapes and molds. You can make Mickey Mouse by just pouring carefully or use molds to make all sorts of cool shapes. I've tortured some great friends by buying them molds and I am sure they would like me dead for it. I don't go for molds and our kids are more interested in eating great pancakes than chewing the heads off of dinosaurs. Molds are generally a pain in the ass and grumpy cooks do not make good pancakes. Molds cut down on your productivity, and that means unhappy children which means pain for everyone.