If your pancakes are giving rise to the term ‘flat as a pancake’, then you’re probably skipping a few key steps (or making a crêpe).
Here’s how to give your pancakes extra bounce this Pancake Day.
1. Use bicarbonate of soda
Bicarbonate of soda (or baking soda, as our American friends call it) is a leavening agent often used in recipes that ask for light and airy bakes. It releases the most carbon dioxide when combined with an acid, which is why fluffy American pancake recipes typically include bicarbonate of soda alongside buttermilk. (More on buttermilk later.)
Word of warning: baking powder is a whole other thing. Don’t get it confused with bicarbonate of soda; it won’t make your pancakes fluffy.
2. Believe in buttermilk
After bicarb, buttermilk is the most important ingredient for light and fluffy pancakes. It’s a common product in America, but you can make your own by combining regular cow’s milk with a squeeze of lemon. The acidity from the lemon boosts the bicarb and ramps up that lovely rise in the pan.
3. Sift your dry ingredients
It takes ages, yes, but sifting is worth all the effort. Make sure you sift your flour and bicarbonate of soda in your fluffy pancake recipes to get that all-important softness and airiness in the final product.
4. Don’t overmix your batter
You’ll spot this in sponge cake recipes, too, but any recipe which mixes wet ingredients with gluten (in pancake’s case, the gluten-containing ingredient is flour) should be beaten until just mixed. Otherwise, the gluten will develop and make your pancakes chewy, dense and flat.
To get the balance just right, let your pancake mix go creamy and leave in a few lumps before transferring to the frying pan.
5. Be careful with your toppings
Fillings weigh down a fluffy pancake batter – even golden syrup. To keep the batter light, add in any toppings when it is cooking in the pan or, better yet, wait until they’re plated up and ready to serve.
Just remember that, if you’re adding in wet toppings, like blueberries, to your batter, make sure they’re dry and coated in flour to stop them from cementing the base of your batter to the pan.
6. Do a test run
While your batter might look just right (it should have the consistency of pouring yogurt), the wrong heat distribution could reduce your fluffy batch to burned rubber.
Use your first few ladles to trial the batch, see if it rises and it bubbles and becomes holey, check no lumps have transferred to the pan. Most crucially, ensure the heat is just so that it cooks the pancake on the edges and in the middle (very important with thicker pancakes) without any burnt bits.
And that’s all there is to it! Now time to devour your light and fluffy pancake stack. Bon appetit!