When you’re scrolling through social media, bored and hungry, there’s no food more than the humble homemade pancake that can give you a severe case of food envy. But no longer!
Pancakes should be pretty straightforward to make, but more often than not, they don’t turn out the way you imagined. Fluffy pancakes are the best kind of pancakes, but a lot of the time, they turn out flat, thick and far too stodgy. To make the perfect fluffy pancake, they need to be three simple things – golden, light, and airy, but how exactly can make sure this happens?
Here’s the science behind the fluffiness of pancakes, and a standard recipe on how to make them at home. Ready…set…cook!
What’s the science behind fluffy pancakes?
To get the fluffy pancakes everyone’s talking about, you need to know what makes them fluffy, and the answer is – the air bubbles!
The bubbles are formed in the batter, and they come from mixing in the baking powder. Baking powder is a chemical cooking agent which, when activated through heat, produces CO2 gases in the form of tiny little bubbles. However, baking powder is often known as ‘double acting’, creating fluffy bubbles at two different stages in the cooking process – when it’s heated, and also when the powder reacts with the liquid, producing a first slow release of bubbles.
Then when the pancakes are heated, a second bigger burst of bubbles is released in the batter. The hotter the heat, the more powerful this release of gas will be. The gluten in the flour is also essential for air bubbles, being a scientific best friend to baking powder. The long strands of the gluten protein molecules are stretchy and elasticated, and so the stretchable form of the gluten is what allows the air bubbles to form, inflate, and grow within the batter too.
An average recipe:
135 g of plain flour
1 tsp of baking powder
2 tbsp of caster sugar
130 ml of milk
1 large egg
2 tsp of olive oil
1. Sift the sugar, flour, and baking powder into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and milk
2. Pour the liquid mixture into the powdered mixture, and use a fork to beat until a smooth batter.
3. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat and add the oil. Once heated, add a ladle of the batter to the center of the pan, so the batter forms a thick circle. Wait until the top of the pancake begins to bubble.
4. Flip the cake over, cooking until both sides are golden brown and it has risen to a ½ inch thick.
Use a hot pan!
Make sure the pan is scorching hot to ensure the baking powder reacts quickly to create bigger bubbles – and more of them. A hotter pan, means the bubbles will hold their shape better.
Don’t forget the sugar!
Sugar aids the browning of crispy golden edges. For the best results, try dissolving the sugar with beaten egg prior to the mixing.
Be gentle when you flip
When you turn over the pancake, try and do it as gently as possible. Flipping them heavily can burst the bubbles, causing it to form flatter.
Now you have everything you need to make the fluffiest of fluffy pancakes. It’s time to fire up that frying pan and get cooking. We’ll be round in 10.