There is no better way to start the weekend off right by than making homemade pancakes that are light and fluffy. I used to struggle with getting pancakes to rise when making them from scratch. I would bail out and get a pancake mix just to get the pancakes to the right consistency. Often my pancakes would end up flat and rubbery and I couldn’t figure out why. Over time and with research, I realized I was over-mixing the batter. However, when I under-mixed the batter, there would be clumps of flour or, even worse, clumps of baking soda in the pancakes.
With more trial and error, I figured out some important techniques that seems to work best for me to get the outcome I desired. Now, armed with these techniques, I am able to create tasty, fluffy pancakes every time. Once you figure this stuff out, you will never need to get a pancake mix to get fluffy pancakes and your homemade pancakes will taste much better than from a pre made mix.
1. Make sure you have the right ratio of flour to liquid
If you have too much flour, the pancakes will be dry and flavorless. If you have too much liquid, the batter will be too runny and the pancakes won’t puff up and rise. The best ratio I have found is around 1 to 1 for a more traditional pancake recipe and slightly less liquid to flour for some other types of recipes (7 parts liquid to 8 parts flour, i.e. for 2 cups of flour you will have 1 and 3/4 cups of liquid). If you are using an acid such as vinegar or citrus juice, incorporate this amount into your total, otherwise the extra liquid from the acid will mess up the ratios and make the batter too runny.
2. Use a sifter to sift the dry ingredients together.
Using a sifter incorporates air into the dry ingredients, which will help them rise. Sifting also ensures that the baking soda and powder are evenly mixed into flour without lumps forming.
3. Don’t over mix the batter
After you have mixed the dry ingredients together, mix the milk with the acid together. Then add the melted butter to the milk to warm it. Mix the egg yolk with the sugar, then add the milk, acid, butter mixture to the wet ingredients. Then gently pour the wet mixture into the center of the dry ingredients.
Use a spatula to gently fold the dry and wet ingredients together. Use the spatula to scrape the edges of the bowl to make sure you don’t leave any dry ingredient unmixed and “fold” it into the center of the bowl. Do NOT over mix! The batter should look “lumpy” like in the picture above.
4. Separate the egg yolk from the white
If you are short on time or don’t have a hand mixer, just separate the whites from the rest of the wet ingredients. Gently mix the wet ingredients including the egg yolks and then fold in the egg whites
However, to really get those pancakes extra fluffy, we need to take it the next level. Whip the egg whites with a hand or power mixer. You want to whip the egg whites until they start to foam and then form soft peaks, then gently fold them into the rest of the batter.
5. Use convection heat to your advantage
If you follow all the steps up to this point, this step is probably unnecessary. I learned this technique from watching YouTube videos of Japanese souffle pancakes to get that extra tall, fluffy pancake. If you use a cast iron pan or non stick pan with a lid, place the lid on the pan right after you drop the pancake batter on the pan. This will trap some heat in the pan, making the pan act like an oven. If you have a glass lid, you will actually see the pancake puff up and rise a bit right after you place the lid on.
Where I find this especially useful is in recipes that are heavier, such as pumpkin pancakes, pancakes with sour cream or cheese, or pancakes with heavy fruits or vegetables blended in. Not only will this technique help these types of pancakes rise, it also cooks the inside a bit, which is needed in these types of pancakes. Otherwise, you either get the outside over done, the inside undercooked, or you have to turn the heat down too low which makes the pancakes cook too slowly and results in a rubbery pancake.