Sorry for shouting, but I’m so excited!! Ever since the first time I laid eyes on those giggly giant fluffy Japanese pancakes, I’ve been obsessed. We may or may not have been to almostevery fluffy pancake place in Tokyo because of my obsession – here’s a run down on the places we’ve been to. I love the way Japanese pancakes taste: light, airy, and oh so delicious.
The best part of going to the pancake places, aside from eating the pancakes, is that you get to watch them expertly shape, flip, and plate up serving after serving of fluffy goodness. It’s nice to watch but also kind of awkward because I’m sure the pancake peeps don’t really want anyone staring at them. I would have major anxiety if people were watching me do my job day after day after day.
Heck, I was anxious making these pancakes in the safety of my own home in my joggers and sweatshirt. It’s a good thing I was in comfy clothes because these pancakes have been years in the making and to be honest, I failed a couple times before they came out just the way I wanted them.
The very first time I tried to do Japanese pancakes I did the ring mold version, but that just wasn’t what I wanted. Then, a couple of years ago, I winged it and made some that tasted good, but weren’t perfect, looks wise. I kept meaning to perfect that recipe and put it up, but I kind of sort of *gasp* forgot about them. Just recently though, Mike mentioned that Pancake Day was coming up and I started thinking about pancakes again and here we are.
I tried to find the recipe that I was working on so many years ago but somehow it was gone so I gave up and just tried out a very popular google result. Sadly, I was seriously disappointed: too eggy and nothing like the pancakes I’ve had in Tokyo. They weren’t even fluffy?! I just knew I had to get back the recipe that I started so many years ago so I asked Mike to help and lo and behold, it was there, on my computer. With tasty recipe in hand, I set out on making them even fluffier and went deep into fluffy pancake search mode and found a promising looking video.
The recipe in the video is pretty much like mine, with just a few changes: I stabilized the egg whites with a bit of cream of tartar, decreased the baking powder, took out the vanilla and salt, and increased the sugar and cooking time. I guess when I put it like that, I changed the recipe quite a lot. I was super happy with the results: the pancakes came out super fluffy and tasted almost just like what I remember!
There are two key things you need to concentrate on if you want to make fluffy pancakes at home. One is the meringue – be sure that it’s well developed but not over beaten. The second one is how you cook them. Most of the recipes I see online use either frying pans on low heat or the exact same machines that they use in Japan: flat griddles with giant lids.
My first couple of attempts were with a frying pan with a lid. These didn’t work out for me – the heat of my gas stove, even on low, was too high. I don’t have one of those fun griddles (even though I want one) so I went with what I found at home: my crepe pan! It has a super low setting that worked perfectly. I don’t have a lid for it but my giant wok lid worked in a pinch. Fluffy pancake success! Serve them up with a dusting of icing sugar, whipped butter and maple syrup. You’ll be in heaven.
PS – These are a commitment, so you really have to love pancakes, yourself, or whoever you’re making them for. Patience is key, both when making the batter and when cooking.
Makes 3 pancakes
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 3 tablespoons (30 grams) flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1.5 tablespoons sugar
- Notes: I’ve only made one batch at a time but I think you’d be able to double this as long as your meringue is whipped properly – from what I can tell, in Japan they don’t make the pancake batter every time you order, so I’m pretty sure it’ll hold.
- Whisk the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of sugar until pale and frothy. Mix the milk in batches. Sift the flour and baking powder over the yolk mixture and whisk well making sure everything is incorporated.
- Whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until frothy and pale, adding in the sugar in bit at a time until the whites are whipped into a glossy thick meringue that holds a peak. Be careful not to over whip.
- Take 1/3 of the whipped egg whites and whisk it into the bowl with the yolks until completely incorporated. Add half of the remaining whites and whisk into the yolk batter, being careful not to deflate. Transfer the egg yolk mixture to the remaining egg whites, whisk and then use a spatula to fold together.
- Heat up a large non stick frying (with a lid) pan over low heat. Very lightly brush with oil and use a paper towel to rub it around. You want a very light film.
- Using an ice cream scoop or measuring cup, scoop the batter onto the pan. Unless you have a very large pan with a lid, it’s probably best to make these two or even one to a pan. Scoop the batter onto the pan, cover and cook for 3 minutes. If you have a crepe maker or griddle with a lid that will cover the entire thing without touching the pancakes, use that on the lowest setting.
- Remove the lid and add some more batter on top of each pancake. Cover and continue to cook for 4-5 more minutes. Lift the lid and use a spatula to gently peek under the pancake. The pancake should release easily – don’t force it.
- If you still have any batter left, pile it on top of the pancakes and then gently flip. Cover and cook for 5-6 minutes. The pancakes will grow even taller and fluffier when they’re done. Once the pancakes are golden and cooked through, gently remove and serve on a plate with powdered sugar, butter, whipped cream, and maple syrup. Enjoy immediately!