What's better than pancakes with maple syrup? Learn what makes pancakes fluffy and see how to make your favorite breakfast meals with Jow.
Think of your dream breakfast. You might imagine crispy bacon with perfectly-scrambled eggs and toast. If you prefer a more adventurous breakfast, you may picture plump eggs benedict with creamy hollandaise sauce. Or you might think of fluffy, buttery pancakes topped with delicious syrup and fruit.
When you make pancakes at home, how do they turn out? If you've been preparing this breakfast food for years, you might have the hang of flipping hotcakes on the griddle. On the other hand, you might feel that you've been trying for years to get the perfect consistency in your pancakes.
Getting a fluffy pancake isn't as hard as you'd imagine! By learning what makes hotcakes fluffy or flat, you can start implementing your knowledge into your breakfast preparation. After some practice, we think you'll be on your way to crafting the most delicious breakfast cakes topped with melted butter for Saturday mornings or any day you feel like making a morning meal that's warm and sweet.
Let's get into talking about the real reason pancakes have some fluff to their consistency. After that, we'll show you ways to spice up your hotcakes and introduce you to breakfast recipes that make morning meals a breeze.
The Real Reason Pancakes Are Fluffy
If you want to know how to make fluffy homemade pancakes, you may want to start with understanding what makes pancakes fluffy. In just a moment, you'll see a recipe for delicious pillowy pancakes, but first, let's talk about the science behind the fluff.
One of the primary reasons pancakes rise or remain flat is air pockets that form and solidify in the batter. What causes these bubbles to occur or not occur? As you mix your batter, you'll notice many recipes call for the addition of baking powder.
Perhaps you've wondered why you'd need to add baking powder or baking soda to your pancake mix in the past. Baking powder functions as a leavening agent in your batter, and when it becomes activated, it produces gas, which forms bubbles.
How does the baking powder activate? There's a more scientific answer than waving a magic wand. There are two primary steps for this reaction to occur:
- When you whisk your dry ingredients (including baking powder) with liquid in a bowl, the chemicals in the baking powder begin to react. The powder releases an initial wave of gas that forms bubbles by interacting with liquid. It's a slow and steady process as the bubbles form.
- Next, as you pour your batter over the heat, this also causes a reaction, making the batter begin to rise and become fluffy. If you add your batter to high heat, it will produce a more significant reaction, and thus, a higher amount of bubbles.
The Chemical Side of Gluten
Want to get even deeper into why bubbles form in your pancakes? It has to do with the chemical makeup of the batter. When you make traditional pancakes, the batter includes gluten in the flour portion of the mix.
Glutens are long protein molecules that have an elastic quality. Just like dough expands when you allow it to rest before baking, the gluten in the pancake batter stretches and expands. As it stretches, pockets of air begin to form, making your pancakes airy and light.
Heating Your Hotcakes Adds to the Fluff
There is way more to appreciate about how pancakes become fluffy. In addition to bubbles forming in the mixing stage, your pancakes also become airy when they hit the skillet and begin to cook. That’s why cooking your pancakes in the microwave or on a baking sheet likely won’t give you the same results.
Here are a few reasons why:
- First, as we already mentioned, the wet batter hitting the hot surface of the griddle causes air bubbles to form quickly.
- As the batter heats, the liquid begins to cook away and becomes steam.
- At the same time, the proteins in your eggs (part of your wet ingredients) start to coagulate, causing the mixture to solidify.
- These three factors together cause CO2 bubbles to quickly form and solidify into multiple tiny air pockets throughout, making your pancakes fluffy.
A Tip To Remember When Making Pancakes
The heat of your griddle plays a significant part in the fluffiness of your hotcakes. When the surface is sufficiently hot, the bubbles in the batter can form and harden quickly enough to give the pancakes their full shape.
On the other hand, if your pan isn't hot enough, the bubbles in the batter will form too slowly and pop before they can solidify. A solid temperature to aim for is 375 degrees.
A Few Other Factors Play a Part in Your Pancakes
Each time you eat pancakes, you're probably not thinking about each of the individual factors playing a part in the structure of your meal. Still, as you enjoy each buttery bite, there are even more elements that contribute to the taste, texture, and appearance of your hotcake breakfast.
Let's look at a few examples of how the ingredients in your pancakes help give them a fluffy texture.
- Sugar: This ingredient not only gives your pancakes an exciting sweet taste. It also binds to the water when you mix wet ingredients and dry ingredients. In addition, it delays the gluten's formation. When you include a tablespoon of sugar in your pancakes, the result will be softer and less stretchy. Sugar also helps give your pancakes a crispy, golden brown edge.
- Fat: The fat content in your pancakes works to shorten each strand of gluten. The result is a less rubbery pancake.
- Salt: This ingredient not only helps balance the taste of your batter. It also helps slow gluten formation and makes for a more solid pancake.
- Density: The thickness, or viscosity, of your pancakes also plays a part in how fluffy your pancakes are. Including thin liquid ingredients will lead to flimsy pancakes. However, when you follow an easy pancake recipe that calls for thicker liquid elements in the mixture, you'll be able to enjoy dense, tasty hotcakes.
Other Tips for Fluffy Pancakes
If you’re truly on a mission to create the fluffiest pancakes possible, you might want to consider adding whipped egg whites to the mix. Separate the egg yolks and whip the whites in a separate bowl until they form soft or stiff peaks. You’ll then fold the egg whites into the rest of your batter.
Another Tip for Flipping
Combining the right ingredients for tasty flavors is one of the essential elements for enjoying your pancakes. Still, as you cook your pancakes, you'll also want to keep the appearance of your hotcakes in mind.
Do you want to savor the taste and look of beautiful, fluffy pancakes? You may want to keep an eye on how you flip each cake. When flipping with a spatula, don't get ahead of yourself. Instead, try to be gentle as you flip the uncooked side of the batter onto the hot pan. By flipping your pancakes delicately, you're more likely to end up with stunning hotcakes that look fluffy and delicious.