It’s not hard to make perfect pancakes. But understanding the principles—why pancakes work—certainly helps. In this article we’ll tell you the keys to perfect pancakes and help you understand pancakes better. You’ll also find how to make perfect pancakes.
Pancakes are a quick bread cooked on a griddle. Like other quick breads, they are leavened with baking soda or baking powder. (Some pancakes are also leavened with beaten egg whites.) They can be cooked on a griddle rather than in the oven because they are thin and turned, cooked on both sides.
Keys to Making Perfect Pancakes
1. Use the right ingredients: Fresh is important. Fresh flour, eggs, and milk all make a difference. Flour is the main ingredient. It’s amazing how much better fresh flour tastes. Try to buy some higher quality flour from a small or local mill.
2. Use the right leavening: Pancakes should be full of hot air with lots of bubbles trapped inside. Most pancakes are leavened with either baking powder or baking soda. For baking soda to work, it must be teamed with an acid, usually buttermilk. Baking soda mixed with buttermilk creates a chemical reaction and lots of bubbles. Cook the batter before the bubbles dissipate. Double acting baking powder creates bubbles both when mixed with a liquid and when heated. Time is not such a factor.
When making buttermilk pancakes, the baking soda neutralizes the acid in the buttermilk. With enough soda, the acid will be completely neutralized and eliminate the tangy buttermilk taste. More soda yet will create an unpleasant, astringent taste.
3. Use the right mixing: Your batter should have lumps in it. Two things go wrong when pancake patter is over mixed: the gluten is developed making the batter elastic instead of tender and bubbles from the leavening get beaten out.
4. Use the right consistency: If the batter is too thin, you’ll have thin, crepe-like pancakes. If it’s too thick, they won’t spread and cook properly and may be doughy in the middle. The batter should be thin enough that they spread properly, less than 1/4 inch thick when poured on the griddle.
You can thin batters by adding a little water or milk. Thickening a thin batter is a little more difficult. Sift a little flour over the batter and gently fold it in.
5. Use the right cooking: The griddle should be very lightly greased—you are cooking pancakes, not frying them. Brush a little butter on the griddle or whip a little oil onto the griddle with a paper towel. The griddle should be hot. If it has a thermostat, it should be set to 375 degrees. A few drops of cold water sprinkled on the griddle should dance. If it’s too hot, the water will vaporize. If the griddle’s not hot enough, the water beads on the griddle.
How to Make Perfect Pancakes
1. In a medium bowl or pitcher, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and leavening.
2. In another bowl, whisk together the liquid ingredients. That will usually include eggs, melted butter or oil, and water, milk, or buttermilk.
3. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix only until thoroughly moistened. Some lumps will remain. Do not over mix. The batter should be thin enough to pour easily and spread to no more than 1/4 inch thick. If the batter is too thick, thin with more liquid.
4. Scoop or pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto a hot griddle. If you are using a griddle with a thermostat, the heat should be set on 375 degrees.
5. Cook the pancakes until the tops are full of bubbles, the bubbles set, and the edges begin to look dry. The pancakes should be a golden brown on the bottom. Turn the pancake over and cook the opposite side until it browns.
6. Serve hot off the griddle.
What You’ll Need
- Pancake Mixes. If you are in a hurry, only a mix will do. Try gourmet mixes like Raspberry Sour Cream Pancakes, Pumpkin Pie Pancakes, or Mayan Chocolate Pancakes.
- Pancake syrups. Try fruit and cream syrups. Fruit syrups should be made without corn syrup which masks fruit flavors. Cream syrups have a caramel-like base but are made in different flavors.
- Pancake Keepers. Keepers keep your pancakes hot while serving. Keep leftover pancakes fresh in a keeper in your refrigerator.
- Pancake Rings. With rings, you can make perfect circles, stars, or wonderful shapes like teddy bears. This selection includes nonstick, silicone, and Teflon.
Copyright The Prepared Pantry and Dennis Weaver, 2009. Used with permission.
Dennis Weaver is the founder and president of The Prepared Pantry and has written several books on baking and writes columns and articles for several sites. The Prepared Pantry sells baking ingredients, baking mixes, and kitchen tools.
More related articles:
Pancake Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner
Quick, Easy and Healthy Strawberry Oatmeal Pancakes
How to Make Pancake Syrup
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