Waking up to a freshly made stack of hot pancakes can be a real treat. As with most cooking techniques, making fluffy pancakes takes practice and will become easier the more you do it. Try a few simple tips to learn how to make the best pancake batter for fluffy pancakes.
In 1993, the editors of "Cook's Illustrated" had a great idea: break down the best way to cook everyday common items by cooking them over and over again until the very best recipe was found. This included trying every recipe, wives' tale and gimmick to get the perfect fluffy pancake. To their surprise, the editors found that leaving the batter lumpy actually made much fluffier pancakes. Mix all of your ingredients together, but do not beat them to a consistency that is thin and without lumps. You will find that your pancakes rise a bit higher.
Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder
For light and fluffy pancakes, most cooks recommend using baking soda instead of baking powder when mixing ingredients. Although the difference is marginal -- about 1 mm per pancake -- baking soda will give your pancake that extra lift. Cook your pancakes on medium heat on a well-greased griddle and wait until the bubbles begin to set in the top. Once the top sets and the baking soda has been given sufficient time to rise the batter, flip. The baking soda will continue to leaven the batter and the rise will be considerably higher.
To ensure that your baking soda or other leavening agent is incorporated properly in your pancake mixture, mix your dry ingredients together with a whisk until they are mixed completely. Do the same in a separate bowl with your wet ingredients. Be sure to include a bit of oil in your pancake batter, whether it be butter, canola oil or vegetable oil. This will ensure that your pancakes will not stick to the surface of the griddle. Incorporating ingredients separately will help avoid over-beating your batter which will thicken the gluten protein in the flour and make it more difficult for the pancake to rise.
Use pastry or cake flour when making your pancakes. This specially formulated flour will rise with greater ease as it is designed to work with fast-acting leavening agents such as baking soda and baking powder. Pre-sift it and then measure and incorporate with the other dry ingredients using a whisk, placing the baking soda, salt and other dry ingredients on the top and working them in. This will incorporate a good deal of extra air into your batter by making sure the flour has been separated. Include it into your wet ingredients a little at a time, remembering to leave it lumpy.