Sunday, October 7, 2012

I'm flippin' mad over someone's comment about pancakes

See what I did there? Ha! I make me laugh. Moving on...

This is irrational and stupid, but I don't care. I'm mad.

Someone, somewhere on the Internet (a friend of a friend) just said "a hot pan and lots of butter are key to the first pancake". The hot pan part, yes. The lots of butter part, um no? Yeah. NO! Unless you like greasy, flat, unevenly browned, fritter-like pancakes. If that's you're cup o' tea, then by all means butter it up, Paula Deen!

[I would tell you that the most important thing ever about pancakes is the batter. But everyone thinks that their recipe is best and fool proof and you just can't convince them otherwise. Plus there are things to consider like gluten free, types of flour used, buttermilk or regular milk, adding fruit or chocolate, etc. So we'll just skip that. If you're interested in my recipe for my favorite pancake, leave a comment or get in touch with me through email/Facebook.]

The key to pancakes first and foremost is patience. Let's just be honest here- I have very little patience. I know! I wouldn't believe it either if I were you, but it's true! Ahem. My lack of patience usually means that the first pancake is a dud. It's cooked-ish, but it doesn't look pretty and it doesn't taste as good as the rest. The next most important thing is the type of pan you're using. Typically a good quality non-stick pan or flat griddle is best. If you don't have non-stick because you're scared of Teflon and cancer then a well seasoned, flat bottom skillet should do the trick. The point here is that your pan should heat evenly all over the bottom and should be non-stick in one way or another. Now that you've got that squared away, we need to talk about temperature control. You may have to adjust the temperature several times while cooking the entire batch of pancakes and that's okay. If you have the world's best pan and stove top, then you may not have to adjust at all. Also, I'm jealous and I'd like to move into your kitchen. The lady that inspired this post did have at least one good point. Your pan needs to be good and hot. I usually set the pan on the burner, turn the burner on to med-hi and let it heat up while I'm making the batter. Then, when I'm ready to cook, I'll adjust the heat as needed. I use a small pat of butter to coat my pan evenly in a thin layer over the entire pan. This, apparently, is where my friend's friend and I disagree. If you use too much fat, you'll get a fritter-like pancake with greasy, sorta crispy edges. Now, if you like that? Go for it! But to me the ideal pancake is light and fluffy, evenly browned  with a light colored ring all the way around. Once the pan is hot and you've greased it evenly**, you can pour in the batter. This is where that patience I was talking about comes in. The leavening in pancakes will usually come from baking powder. The baking powder is what helps create all of those little air bubbles that makes the batter rise. When cooking your pancake, you'll start to see little air bubbles rise to the surface. That's a good sign! But the trick is to be patient and wait until you see lots and lots of them before you flip the pancake. Once the surface is covered with little air bubbles, gently lift the pancake with a wide, flat spatula and flip it! The other side should only take a minute or so to finish cooking. If you see that some of your pancakes are starting to get dark too quickly, then lower the temperature slightly. If it's truly taking forever and a day to brown on the first side, turn the heat up a bit. You'll just have to experiment until you get it right as there are a lot of factors that have to do with your specific equipment.

Okay. Now that I've talked it out with you guys, I'm not mad anymore. Now I think I'm worried about how people of the world make their pancakes. I wish there was some kind of culinary super hero that went around the world saving people from cooking disasters...

And before I make myself seem any more ridiculous, I'm done! Go make pancakes!


P.S. It just occurred to me that making things like pancakes and waffles is an odd combination of baking and cooking- like a weird hybrid. That's why they're so finicky!

**If the oil/butter/fat in the pan is smoking when you put it in, your pan is too hot for pancakes. Pull it off the heat and let it chill for a minute, then try again. There are many times where a pan that is just starting to smoke is good, but this is definitely not one of those times.


  1. I agree that patience is key. I make some mean vegan pancakes. No butter needed. I keep the finished ones warm by putting them on a plate and covering with a pan lid while the others slowly cook. It's more time consuming, but being able to cook a good pancake was life changing!

  2. I agree with your method- a thin layer of butter in a hot pan. But even with that, even with patience, the first pancake turns out crappy. It's a good thing the furry pancake god likes pale, lumpy, underdone 'cakes! ;)

  3. heh. I learned two things about making pancakes from my step-dad. A) the bubbles.. pretty much exactly what you said. b) DO NOT use oil, especially not as much as he uses. His pancakes tend towards crispy. So I use a tiny bit of cooking oil or butter, but yes on the non-stick! And I have to say even though I use pancake mix (bad me!) they at least look pretty and aren't crunchy!


I'd love to hear from you!