On a busy morning, pancakes are the perfect choice: they are easy, quick, and almost foolproof. But they are not quite foolproof. If your pancakes are not turning out not quite right, review these eight principles for great pancakes.
1. Use a low gluten flour.
We like to use unbleached pastry flour in our recipes—that’s what our mixes are made with—but all purpose flour will do. Bread flour makes for a pancake that is too tough and chewy.
2. Don’t over mix.
Mixing develops the gluten in the batter. Mix the dry ingredients together to dispense the leavening throughout the flour. Mix the recipe’s wet ingredients together in another bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until just moistened. There will still be lumps. That’s okay—they’ll cook out. If it’s beat too much, you’ll develop the gluten and create a chewy pancake.
3. Get the batter the right consistency.
The batter should be runny enough that it will spread on the griddle. If it is too runny, the pancakes will be crepe-like. As you progress through the batch, the batter will tend to become thicker as the leavenings work. Add a little more water or milk as needed but remember to stir minimally. After the batter sits for a while, it becomes thinner as the bubbles dissipate. You can rejuvenate your batter with the addition of a little baking powder (don’t add flour).
4. Prepare the griddle.
Very lightly grease the griddle with a little shortening or with an aerosol can of vegetable oil. We often spread just a little butter on the griddle. The butter tastes great but it burns more easily than vegetable oil so use it sparingly.
5. Get the griddle hot enough.
Set the griddle on high or medium-high heat. When the griddle is hot enough, water droplets will dance on the surface. After putting batter on the griddle, turn the heat to medium.
6. Cook neat, uniform, pancakes.
A 1/3-cup measure will give you medium pancakes. Use a 1/2-cup measure for large pancakes. You may also use also use a pancake dispenser available at kitchen stores.
7. Cook it right.
You can tell when it’s time to turn the pancake by watching the bubbles form and watching the edges of the pancakes. The bubbles tend to cook into little craters and the edges will be dry-looking when the pancake is ready to turn. A little practice makes perfect.
8. Keep your pancakes hot.
Pancakes are best if steaming hot. As you take the pancakes off the grill, cover them lightly with aluminum foil. Better yet, use a pancake and tortilla keeper to keep them hot. You may also stick the loosely covered plate in an oven heated to 275 degrees. For a special touch, heat the empty plates in the oven before serving.
Baker’s note: One of my granddaughters, Lily, loves chocolate pancakes with coconut cream syrup. (Who wouldn’t?) When her mother makes these pancakes, she makes extra. She stacks the extra in a pancake and tortilla keeper and places the keeper in the refrigerator. When Lily gets home from school and needs a snack, her mother heats a couple in the microwave and serves them to her.
Dennis Weaver is the founder and president of The Prepared Pantry–a seller of baking supplies and kitchen tools. He has written extensively about baking and cooking. “How to Bake,” a 250 page e-book, is available free online. He has worked professionally as a baker and has baked and cooked for over 30 years His favorite pancake mix is the Raspberry Sour Cream Pancake Mix available at The Prepared Pantry.
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