The Science Behind Making Fluffy Pancakes
Pancakes are found within just about every culture and for good reason. There are few things more delicious than a buttery pancake lightly coated in maple to start off your day. Did you know there is an actual annual pancake day? September 26th each year is National Pancake day and the perfect excuse to try that triple stack you’ve been eyeing up. No matter what kind of pancakes you prefer, blueberry pancakes, buttermilk pancakes, or chocolate chip banana pancakes, you desire nothing less than a thick fluffy stack to enjoy.
The problem is that it doesn’t always go that way. More often than not, those pillow-like pancakes you dreamt about last night end up being a stack of paper-thin pancakes that look more like crepes. Even though pancakes seem so simple to make, pancakes losing their fluff seems to remain a frequent problem. Within this article, we’ll discuss why pancakes go flat, and the trick behind fluffy pancakes. Read on to find out how you can make yours to perfection every time with these fluffy pancake secrets.
What Makes Pancakes Fluffy?
Before we dive into creating the perfect stack of buttery soft fluffy pancakes, it’s noteworthy to appreciate how pancakes develop their fluff, to begin with. Fluffy pancakes are all about the ingredients and how they interact. Pancake batter is composed of two crucial parts. Dry ingredients that include flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, wet ingredients that include milk, eggs, and butter. Flour is one of the most essential ingredients because it contains both starch and protein. Starch is a long chain of simple sugars. Simple sugars are natural and known by the name of glucose. These are the sugars that plants produce to feed themselves during the process known as photosynthesis. Protein molecules look like a chain composed of amino acids. The protein in flour is gluten, and it’s that protein alone that creates the chewy like texture.
Dry flour doesn’t do much for anything because the molecules are stuck in an immobile state. However, when you add water, the magic begins to happen. The proteins begin to bind to one another and any other ingredients they’re mixed with. When wet these molecules are spring-like and elastic. When you combine all of your pancake ingredients together, the protein bond pulls all of the ingredients together to create the structure of the pancakes. The more you mix the pancake batter, the stronger the bonds become, producing a web-like mixture. This process works to trap the bubbles in the pancakes caused by the baking powder and allows the pancake to rise while staying fluffy. Overmixing pancakes is one reason why they turn out because, as mentioned, the more you mix the stronger the bonds become and when they are too tightly bound the pancakes cannot rise and end up flat. It’s a crazy process if you think about all of the extraordinary actions that occur with such a simple dish as pancakes. Now let’s reveal the secrets behind making your pancakes fluffier than ever.
The Secret Behind Fluffy Pancakes
The key to making fluffy pancakes is dependent upon how you handle just one simple ingredient: the eggs. Generally, when people are making pancakes, they just crack the shell, throw it in the bowl with the other ingredients and get to mixing. That’s where they go wrong. One simple trick to make fluffier pancakes is to separate the yolks and the egg whites prior to mixing them into the batter.
Once separated, you want to add only the egg yolks to the wet ingredients and place the egg whites in a separate bowl. Before adding the egg whites, you want to use a mixer and whip them on high until they create a shape like a soft peak. You’ll still keep them aside until you’ve gently mixed all of your ingredients, including your egg yolks. Now use a spatula and gently fold the egg whites into your pancake batter, which will help the egg whites keep their airy.
After you’ve added the egg whites to the top of the batter, you’ll use the blade on your spatula to cut all the way through the center of your pancake mix, down to the very bottom of your mixing bowl. You’ll then scoop one half of the mixture on the curved area of the bowl and basically fold the mixture on the spatula over onto the other side of the batter. You’ll continue to repeat the folding process, turning the bowl around in a clockwise motion, until it mixes all of your egg whites into the batter.
Obviously, this seems like a lot of work and when you’re first making pancakes this way, it can feel totally unnatural. However, even though it’s a slow and tricky process, you get the hang of it faster than you’d think and you’ll end up with the fluffiest pancakes you’ve ever made every time.
Extra-Tips and Tricks
If you don’t feel like experiencing the whole process of making fluffy pancakes as listed above, you can try this shortcut. Your pancakes will still come out fluffy, just not as fluffy as the recipe above. For this recipe, you’ll still separate ingredients together aside from the egg whites. However, rather than whipping the egg whites, you’ll allow the batter to stand for about 5 minutes and then add your egg whites in, mixing slowly. The separate egg whites, when they’re added to the batter, will help the pancakes rise and become fluffy.
Avoid pushing the pancakes down with your spatula while cooking. Many times people use the spatula to press on the pancake and help it cook faster. However, when you push down on the pancakes, you’re pushing all the hidden bubbles out and making your pancakes go flat in the process. All you need to do while cooking your pancakes is pour the batter into your skillet, wait for the bubbles to come through on top and do one quick flip to cook the other side and – then voila- you’ve got the perfect fluffy pancakes for you to enjoy.
- How to Make Fluffy Pancakes – wikiHow