Mixing Pancake Batter

Chances are if your parents made pancakes for breakfast, you would wonder why the batter would be mixed and then left alone for a while. You probably wanted to have a nice big pancake breakfast right away. The fact that the batter had been mixed and now your parents were reading the newspaper instead of cooking your pancake breakfast would annoy you. Of course, there is a reason behind leaving the pancake batter after initially mixing it.

First of all, excessive blending of pancake batter can cause early formation and escape of carbon dioxide gas. Carbon dioxide is necessary for leavening, or causing tiny air pockets in, the cooked pancakes. Also, over-mixing can overdevelop the gluten in the flour. While some of this protein is necessary for the normal texture of pancakes, too much gluten can produce rough, chewy pancakes.

The best procedure for mixing pancake batter is to stop mixing the ingredients before all the tiny clumps of flour dissolve. The process will automatically complete itself due to Fick's Law explained earlier. If the pancake batter is kept in the refrigerator while the mixing process continues, gluten development will be slowed due to the lower temperatures. Bacterial growth will also be decreased by the colder temperatures in the refrigerator.

A smooth batter with the right amount of gluten development will produce the desired texture for your morning pancakes. This smooth batter will also allow for a more even spread of the batter on the griddle. This will enable the pancake batter to cook more evenly and thoroughly. This all adds up to lightly browned, smooth, fluffy pancakes for breakfast.

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This project was funded in part by the National Science Foundation and is advised by Dr. Masel and Dr. Blowers at the University of Illinois.

2007 Arizona Board of Regents for The University of Arizona