I've come here seeking serious help with my Pancakes.
I love pancakes and have been trying to make them in the image of my ideal standards:
- Uncle Greg (king of the crispy edge)
- IHOP (soft, fluffy, immensely tender, but not too thick)
- McDonalds (soft, tender, thin, but naturally sweet ... could do without syrup almost!)
- Random downtown diners... the short order cooks effortlessly out-do me with their big, thin, and soft pancakes...
It has been a tough road. I've tried mostly mixes (Hungry Jack, Butterworth's, Aunt Jemima, and Bisquick) in both the "add water" and "traditional" varieties. Usually my pancakes come out of the pan with a stiff surface (not immediately soft and tender) on top and bottom. And most of all they're not tender! I've also tried some homemade recipes but they usually flop worse than box mixes ... they fail to brown or rise, taste dry, come out stiff, etc. types of catastrophic failures.
I use a 10"x16" Presto electric griddle.
I want to approach this in an organized fashion, so let me start by bringing up these key points I could use clarity on.
- Mixing - All recipies stress "Do not over mix". However, I am not a professional, so what constitutes over mixing?? I get fustrated when I try to be gentle with the batter and mix as little as possible but I end up with dry lumps that end up in my cooked pancakes! I wish it were as simple as "mix until thoroughly blended and no lumps remain" but I keep reading that there should be lumps.... What sense does it make to have dry clumps (lumps) of unmixed flour in my batter? So what do I need to do? Mix really slowly? Mix very little and leave the lumps in the mixing bowl? So I'm always struggling with that.
- Butter or Oil - This great debate... I've tried straight vegetable oil, Crisco no-stick Canola oil spray (blue can), margarine, normal butter, and clarified butter. But butter loves to smoke/burn at 375F if I don't throw something on it right away and honestly I don't think it's makes much of a taste difference... so I guess I'm wondering what do the pros (IHOP, etc.) use?
- Timing - Sometimes there is a thought that I may be cooking all the moisture out of my pancakes... leaving their surfaces dry and stiff when I take them out of the pan. Could that possibly happen without actually burning the pancake? I don't want to eat undercooked pancakes.. I cook them until at least brown on the 1st side then I flip. The 2nd side should always cook for much less time right?
- Mix vs. Homemade. I've read that a quality mix is just as good as homemade, and then I've read that mixes are junk. I can do homemade again but I'll have to buy powder, soda, flower, etc. and I don't want to do that without a reason to believe I'll actually succeed this time... without a new plan. And then there are 10,000,000 pancake recipies on the internet, and they have have decent reviews but differ. Any tried and true vetted recipies that produce IHOP or McDonalds tenderness without much fuss?
- What DO they really do? I've always wondered, and have tried to research how IHOP makes their pancakes. I should go ask a server next time I'm there... but I've read they use a commercial Bisquick mix. How about McDonalds? Denny's? What do you make of that? Made me think about getting some generic mix from GFS...
So all in all... I'm not struggling with flavor here, I'm fighting texture. I need to learn the proper technique. I could use 1 homemade recipie to work with but I really don't want 7 different ones or an entire website full of them. I'd be chasing wild geese trying to pick one and I kind of don't have that type of time to waste making flopcakes :)
Anyway, any time you can take to help me tame my pancakes to be soft and tender would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you for reading.