Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pancake, fake it or make it?

I read an interesting article about whether making pancakes from scratch is worth the effort from bon appetit website. Being a pancake lover, I always considered making it from scratch a big pain, flour scattered on the counter, batter dripping over the stove, dishes stacking up the sink...... What a project! Store bought pancake mix is my saver, but does it taste the same as homemade? if you are a fan of pancakes, keep reading. I quoted the article here. 


The Contenders

Pancakes--defined as a wet batter cooked on a hot surface to create round, flat cakes--are probably some of the earliest and most widespread prepared foods eaten by humans. Today in France they're enjoyed as crepes; in, Russia, blinis and blintzes rule; English pancakes are made flat and thin, and traditionally eaten on Shrove Tuesday. But America is the undisputed king of the griddlecake, specializing in a version made with a thick batter containing leavening agents for a finished product that's fluffy and substantial.

Relative Costs
Similar. I used less than $3 worth of ingredients to make each batch of 14 pancakes.

Relative Healthfulness
About the same. Both versions are composed mostly of flour, milk, and eggs. The homemade recipe uses melted butter whereas store-bought calls for vegetable oil.

Time Commitment
It took me about 15 minutes to prepare the homemade batter, much of which was spent beating the egg whites into peaks. The store-bought mix took less than five minutes to put together.

Leftovers Potential
Just like the flour that forms its base, a partially used box of pancake mix will keep on your pantry shelf almost indefinitely. Batter of either sort is best used the same day, and pancakes will be most delicious eaten hot off the stove.

What The Testers Said
First let me introduce our panel.

A delicate eater, the health nut is calorie conscious but also likes to eat well

Calorie agnostic, our foodie judge has a sophisticated palate and a love of cooking

Ambivalent toward food trends and health concerns, this guy just wants to be fed when he's hungry

Between ages of 9 and 12 years old, not jaded, typically not into strong flavors

Testers sampled both pancakes blind, plain and then with syrup. Even before adding syrup, everyone found the two versions nearly indistinguishable in terms of flavor and texture. With syrup, no one could correctly identify which sample was which.

The Health Nut: No decision; "I can't tell the difference between the two of these."
The Foodie: Store-bought; "This one has a bit more salt, and I find it to be a little bit lighter and fluffier."
The Kid: No decision; "I love pancakes."
The Dude: No decision; "The Foodie can't possibly be serious. Especially once you add syrup, there's just no way to tell these two apart."

The Verdict
Fake it.

Assuming that you have the shelf space for it, pancake mix is worth keeping on hand to help you save a little time and effort in the mornings. These mixes really just consist of the same dry ingredients that go into a conventional pancake recipe, to which you add similar wet ingredients, so there's no real loss of quality in going store-bought (note: 'just add water' mixes are a different bag altogether). And that extra step of separating eggs and whipping the whites into peaks that some pancake recipes call for? Save yourself the arm workout, because it doesn't seem to make any noticeable difference in pancake fluffiness.

--Elizabeth Gunnison

Read More
Aha, I feel happy about their conclusion. And I suddenly had this urge of eating pancakes. I rode my bike to the nearby supermarket and bought Aunt Jemima's original pancake mix and fresh blueberry, the same mix as their test. I took some photos of them and enjoyed my breakfast! 


Ryan Edwards said...

I like to think my cinnamon additions made a difference when I made mine from scratch!! But you're right, maybe it was a bit much work for too little difference.

M-I-L said...

You are right Ryan, adding cinnamon to the batter is a nice touch. It can be done to the "from scratch" or the store bought mix.

Lauren Rechelle said...

I sadly disagree - I can taste a difference between the store bought and homemade. I love making them from scratch!! When I do make them from a box, I always add cinnamon and vanilla or something extra to give them a little more wow!

Jocelyn Jiang said...

Thanks everyone for the comment! i think it's a trade off between better flavor and saving time. Cinnamon indeed refines the flavor a lot. Lauren has a good point there. Buying premix and adding extra flavor would be a solution to the busy but picky eaters:)