Japanese Hot Cakes

The expression "flat as a pancake" is unjust. At least I consider it so, as I know perfectly well that pancakes can be lofty and proud. If you've ever seen the picture on a box of Japanese hotto keh-ki (hot cake) mix, that's just how I dream of pancakes: clinically cylindrical and fat as fat can be.

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
130ml milk

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.

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I thought the near perfect pancakes were pretty damn good, do you have that recipe too?

10/27/2005 11:04:00 PM  

Eh? When did you have the Near Perfect Pancakes? And if you did, don't you know the recipe is on this blog (I also linked the recipe in the above post, in case you lost it)? I'm very curious now. 

from Rachel

10/29/2005 04:57:00 PM  

Wow, that's the tallest hotto-keeki I've ever seen! :D

10/31/2005 11:39:00 AM  

Ohh, see that's just an indication of my laziness. I actually thought the recipe might be on your blog but I was too lazy to go looking. Also I didn't actually have the near perfect pancake in pancake form but I'm pretty sure that you said that the waffles were made with the near perfect pancake mix...am I lazy and confused?

11/02/2005 06:56:00 AM  

Obachan, did you make that comment in horror or with admiration ;)? Or were you perhaps just trying to make me happy?

Jaime, I totally forgot my promise to send you the recipe for those yeasted waffles (no, not the same recipe). If I had, you wouldn't have been confused. So you can blame it on me... kind of. 

from Rachel

11/02/2005 07:11:00 PM  

Oh, but now that you mention it, a yeasted recipe could possibly make the most superfantasticated pancakes that ever were! Now I'm so excited and think I have to try experimenting...

11/02/2005 07:12:00 PM  

It is hard to bake a perfect pancake. As a culinary artist, I have not yet experienced such thing. Although I have been consistent in baking pancakes with near perfect texture and flavor. I have tried the Japanese pancake and it is different. It has something that other pancakes don't have.

11/15/2005 10:45:00 AM  

Hey Jim! Since you sounded like something of a pancake expert, I actually searched your blog, hoping to find a recipe. But no such luck. Perhaps you'd like to share your recipe/pancake techniques?  

from Rachel

11/24/2005 11:54:00 PM  

omg!+! its so great~~
thank a lot!!

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6/09/2010 02:34:00 AM  

Oh my god thank you! I had a huge craving for some hotto keki but i didn't have the mix or anything. With this I made a BEAUTIFUL golden blonde pancake. I burnt it... a lot... but that's because I didn't realize I had the pan on med-hi, but it still tasted great! I will make the second one now, and hopefully not burn it!

6/14/2011 09:51:00 AM  

This recipe isn't that different from the Betty Crocker recipe I've been using for years. It has a little more than trice the sugar and a second egg. I tried the Japanese hot cake mix last week (we live near a huge Japanese market in LA). I'll give your recipe a try to see the difference. Thanks for posting this!

4/02/2012 01:20:00 AM  

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