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Sunday

04

May 2014

Perfecting The Pancake

by Jen Kwan, on pancake, cake, breakfast

A single pancake

What a bad photo... There will be more photos to come as more pancakes will be eaten.

Over the past couple decades of my cooking career I have attempted to make decent pancakes time after time. Many problems always arose; the batter didn't spread, the pancakes didn't rise when flipped, they would burn, they would be lopsided, there would be clumps of flour in the cake, etc.

Only recently (like in the past couple of months) have I mastered them. Here are my personal tips and tricks to cooking the perfect pancake:

  • Sift your dry ingredients. Sifting will eliminate any clumps in the final product.

  • Don't use a recipe that includes too much sugar. Too much sugar in the batter will make them burn more easily. If you want a sweeter cake, apply more syrup at the eating stage.

  • (Sit down for this one.) Mix the batter well. Going against all the advice that is out there forbidding you from overmixing the batter I am going as far as blending the whole thing together with my immersion blender. O_O Yup, trust me on this one.

  • Use a well seasoned cast-iron or non-stick cooking surface. There are no other options. At least none that I've wanted to invest scrubbing time on.

  • Use non-stick cooking spray. It is the only lubing ingredient you can use consistently. Since we are making multiple cakes your cooking surface will need to be quickly "reset" between each cake. Non-stick cooking spray won't burn as easily as butter, it spreads more evenly than oil, and it can easily be wiped off and reapplied between each cake.

  • Use a large enough cooking surface. The ideal surface would be a rectangular electric griddle but a large frying pan will work.

  • Don't crowd the pan. Allow enough space for the cake to spread evenly from the center. If your pan can only fit one cake, only cook one at a time or make them smaller.

  • Use a consistent measure of batter. I use a #10 portion scoop which makes 6 inch cakes. Gotta love portion scoops.

  • Allow the bottom to cook a little before adding accompaniments. Creating a crust on the bottom will contain the add-ins and prevent them from sinking through and potentially sticking to the pan.

  • Know when to flip. If you flip too soon there will not be a strong enough tension built on the cooked side of the cake and you will risk tearing it. Generally, they are ready to flip once you see bubbles start forming on the top.

  • Spray the cake before you flip it. Think of this as non-stick insurance especially if you have added sticky things like blueberries or chocolate chips. The first cooked side of the cake will have absorbed most of the first spray you applied so applying it on the second cooked side will create that non-stick surface it needs.

  • Don't be afraid to adjust the heat. Until you have the heat retention of your cooking surface dialed in perfectly do not be afraid to read the doneness of your pancake and adjust your heat accordingly. If you are lucky (er... nerdy) enough to own an IR thermometer the ideal surface temp is 325°F. If your batter spreads way too thin, isn't golden brown after 2 minutes, or your cake doesn't rise immediately after flipping, your cooking surface isn't hot enough.

  • Use even more non-stick cooking spray if you want crispy edges. Applying a generous coat will provide a shallow frying surface yielding crispy edges.

Now, after reading the longest literature you have ever read on pancakes, here is a basic recipe. Basic, as in no fancy stuff, not even vanilla extract, nope.

Basic Pancakes

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 180g or 1 1/2 cups flour (measuring by weight ensures a consistent pancake each meal)
  • 1 Tbps + 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • optional blueberries, chocolate chips, raspberries, etc.
METHOD
  1. Preheat your cooking surface on medium-low to medium heat.
  2. In a liquid measuring cup measure in milk, add egg, blend together with immersion blender (or whisk it well with a whisk.)
  3. Drizzle in the butter whisking continuously to prevent the hot butter from cooking the egg.
  4. In a mixing bowl sift then whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk it until there are no lumps. (This is the step where I use my immersion blender.)
  6. Spray your cooking surface. Scoop on your batter.
  7. Allow to cook for 30 seconds before adding fillings.
  8. Flip once it is golden brown on the bottom and bubbles have started forming on the top.
  9. Cook for another minute or until the bottom is golden brown.
  10. Stack in a warmed oven if needed before serving.

Yield: 6 x 6" cakes.

Pictured below are pancakes modified from the Basic Pancake Recipe. Modified recipe is below the photo.

breakfast for three or four, eggs not pictured.

Cinnamon-Kissed Pancakes

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp salted butter, melted
  • 180g or 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbps + 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
METHOD (changes only)
  • I rested the batter for 25 minutes, there wasn't a noticable change.
  • I used a #16 portion scoop and yielded 9 x 4" cakes.

Updated: May 9, 2014

Jen Kwan
Jen Kwan

I do the food thing where it is prepared, often with the application of heat, and then we all eat it.

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