The simplest modification to be made with this recipe is altering the degree of Maillard Browning in the end product. The Maillard Reaction occurs when the amino acids in proteins and some sugars combine and break down, producing a distinct taste along with a golden brown color. The reaction itself is fairly complex, but ways of obtaining it in the kitchen are fairly simple. Protein and sugar are the obvious necessities, but other factors are involved too. Higher temperatures are generally more effective at producing Maillard browning, as well as the pH of the environment. Maillard browning is enhanced under alkaline environments because the amino acid groups are not as tied up as they would be under acidic conditions. Most kitchen products tend to be more acidic, but baking soda is a commonly used product that is very alkaline (2). Once a balance has been reached between the alkaline baking soda and the acidic buttermilk, any extra baking soda added will increase the browning of the pancakes. This can be tested by making identical batches of pancakes with varying degrees of baking soda, cooked for the same amount of time. The batters with higher amounts of baking soda should produce darker colored pancakes (1). Note that some researchers say that Maillard Browning can have a negative effect on the nutritive value of baked goods, though the degree of this is still debated (3).
(1) Lopez-Alt, J. Serious Eats. https://www.seriouseats.com/light-and-fluffy-pancakes-recipe. (Accessed March 04, 2022).
(2) Potter, J. 310℉/154℃: Maillard Reactions Become Noticeable. In Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Cooks, and Good Food, 2nd ed.; O’Reilly Media Inc., 2016; pp 213-215.
(3) Tsen, C; Reddy, P; El-Samahy, S; Gehrke, C. Effects of the Maillard Browning Reaction on the Nutritive Value of Breads and Pizza Crusts. The Maillard Reaction in Foods and Nutrition, 1983. DOI: 10.1021/bk-1983-0215.ch019 (Accessed 2022-04-13 from ACS Publications).