Japanese Hot Cakes
Of course one must be cautious not to take things toward a level of sheer absurdity. An important point that I think distinguishes a pancake from a regular cake is its egginess, and this means a floppier, less tough consistency--which is why lots of pancakes are flat. They don't have it in them to hold themselves up.
I recently spotted a cook book with a handsome stack of Japanese-style hot cakes on the cover, and could not resist memorizing the recipe to try at home. Of course I have my Near Perfect Pancake recipe, but that does not mean I don't dream of being able to remove the "Near" from the title, some day.
Anyhow, what truly caught my attention in this recipe were the following:
- the technique of taking the heated frying pan off the fire and placing it briefly on a wet towel, before adding the pancake batter (something my Japanese husband would do, in those poignant old days, three years ago, when he would cook me breakfast...sigh)
- the use of a lid
- the long, slow cooking time
- okay, and that gorgeous cover picture of those tall, tall cakes
I tried out the recipe, with a few minor adjustments, and this is what emerged from my pan:
Not flawless, but it was the puffiest pancake I've ever produced. It was also a lot more evenly, prettily browned than the pancakes I usually make on super-high heat. I think it was the lid that did it. I don't know about the wet cloth trick, nor the slow cooking. In fact, my pancake was unfortunately dry and crumbly, but I think that's mostly my fault for a whole slew of reasons, including my using whole wheat flour and cutting down on the amount of sugar and butter, and also overmixing.
I think next time, I'll try my Near Perfect Pancake recipe using a lid during cooking, and see what happens.
I'd like to share the Japanese hot cake recipe, but I'm worried about copyright issues. I wonder though if this counts, since I'm translating from Japanese and thus using entirely my own words.
Ah, well, maybe I'll just put this up temporarily:
Japanese Hot Cakes (adapted from the unfortunately forgotten title of a Japanese cook book)
Makes two to three hot cakes
180g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp salt (This is my own addition, since it never said how much salt in the book)
2 large eggs
40g sugar (Doesn't that seem far too sweet to anyone else?)
30g butter, melted
1. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together twice.
2. Beat eggs, sugar, melted butter, and milk.
3. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet, in three parts.
4. Take the oiled and pre-heated pan off the stove and place it on a wet towel.
5. Add a thick circle of batter to the pan.
6. Return the pan to the stove, cover with a lid, and cook on low heat for 4 to 5 minutes.
7. When the surface of the hot cake is dotted with bubbles (mine never got bubbly, but I think this is because I left the pan on the wet towel for too long and the temperature dropped too much), flip the hot cake over and cook, covered, for another 1 to 2 minutes.
8. Serve with whatever.