Now that I’m back in the States, it’s time to dedicate the next several weeks trying to recreate my favorite foods abroad. While I was in Japan, I became almost obsessed with the pancakes sold in almost every convenience store. These pancakes were sandwiched together with margarine and a copious amount of syrup. It sounds so simple, but it was, without a doubt, one of the top 3 desserts (or breakfast) that I had there. After making several batches and eating about 40 pancakes, I have finally discovered the recipe and am ready to share it with you all today!
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Pancakes are relatively easy to prepare. Mix the dry ingredients, usually flour, sugar and some type of leavening agent such as baking powder or soda, with the wet ingredients, milk, butter, and egg. Making sure not to over-mix, combine ingredients and pour ladles onto a hot griddle. Flip when ready and cook until golden browned. The process is exactly the same for these Japanese pancakes, also known as Dorayaki. The main difference between the two breakfast staples is the type of flour used.
I prepared 5 different batches when trying to figure out the right combination. Japanese pancakes are light and most importantly, chewy. The first batch made with all-purpose flour did not have enough chew factor. The second with cake flour was light but too airy and no chewiness. The third with rice flour had the chew factor but was a little too dense and had a certain graininess.
After tasting the difference between all the flours, I opted to combine rice and all-purpose. All-purpose gave the right weight but not enough chew; that’s where the rice flour came in. With the addition of another leavening agent, using both baking soda and baking powder and the mixture of the flours, I came out with the right combination. Happy dance time!
The same rules for when preparing American pancakes applies. Do not over mix – just mix until the ingredients are just incorporated. Use a griddle if you have one as they are the preferable choice of equipment. No need to use butter or oil to grease the pan. In fact, if there is too much oil or butter, the pancakes will not evenly brown. I found that the best solution was to spray cooking spray onto the pan, wiping away excess with a paper towel
Pour 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto the griddle. Almost everyone says to flip when you see bubbles. The actuality is that you should flip when the bubbles come to the surface, pop and form holes (see top right pancake).
Another handy tip to get the perfect even color: know where your hot spots are on the pan. Heat almost never distributes evenly on a pan: wherever the flame source is where the pan will be the hottest. When I cooked 4 pancakes at a time, I realized the pancakes closest to the edges of the pan were not cooking evenly. Uneven heating will produce uneven coloring as seen in the picture below. The solution? Rotate the pan every 30 seconds or so to allow even heating. An easier fix can be to cook only 2 pancakes at a time in the center of the pan. Sure this takes longer but it also means every single pancake will come out beautifully golden brown.
Look at that gorgeous color.
Once they are cool, spread margarine, drizzle the pancake syrup and sandwich together. It’s important to use margarine rather than butter since margarine spreads easily and won’t melt into the pancake. The margarine also acts as a barrier, preventing the syrup from soaking into the pancake. This way you can bite into the sandwich and get the syrup oozing out from the sides.
I finished all my Japanese pancakes including all the test batches and still found myself wanting more. These are delicious even without the margarine and syrup! You may be wondering, there are a ton of dorayaki recipes out there, what makes this one different? Most, if not all, dorayaki recipes are intended for a heavier filling such as red bean or cream, thus leading to a slightly denser pancake without the chew. Even if you have a favorite dorayaki recipe, give this one a try and see the difference!
Looking for someone to come to your house and prepare these dishes for you? It is possible! If you are in Los Angeles and looking for a private chef, please feel free to contact me. For more information, visit Private Kitchen Los Angeles.