Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A pancake is a batter cake fried in a pan or on a griddle with oil or butter. Most types of pancake batter contain some kind of flour, most commonly wheat flour, or buckwheat flour, and a liquid ingredient, such as water, milk, or ale, although pancakes are sometimes made with cornmeal in the U.S. and potato pancakes are also popular in various European countries, such as Germany and Poland. In some countries, such as Egypt and the United States, pancakes contain a raising agent, such as baking soda or yeast. The batter of the Ethiopian injera is left to ferment in order to achieve a similar effect.
Pancakes have probably been eaten since antiquity, or even before, and the oldest surviving recipe in the English language dates from the 15th century. Pancakes can be eaten hot or cold, and are generally filled or topped with a sweet or savoury sauce or condiment.
British pancakes have three key ingredients: plain flour, eggs and milk. The batter is quite runny and forms a thin layer on the bottom of the frying pan when the pan is tilted. It may form some bubbles during cooking, which result in a pale pancake with dark spots where the bubbles were, but the pancake does not rise. These pancakes may be eaten sweet with the traditional topping of lemon juice and sugar, or wrapped around savoury stuffings and eaten as a main course. When baked instead of fried, this batter rises (depite having no raising agents – it rises because the air beaten into the batter expands) and is known as Yorkshire pudding. British pancakes are similar to the French crepes, and Italian crespelle , but are not "lacy" in appearance. Pancakes in Scotland, however, are more like the American variation and served appropriately (see below). They are often shallow fried when served as a breakfast item.
American pancakes contain a raising agent, usually baking soda, and different proportions of eggs, flour and milk which create a thick batter. This batter is either spooned or poured onto a hot surface, and spreads to form a cake about 1/4 or 1/3 inch (1 cm) thick. The raising agent causes bubbles to rise to the uncooked side of the pancake, at which point they are ready to be flipped. The resulting pancakes are very light in texture, similar to what the British call drop scones or Scotch pancakes. They are often served at breakfast topped with maple syrup and butter. In the US, pancakes can also be referred to as hotcakes, griddlecakes, and flapjacks.
German pancakes often served in American pancake houses, are shaped as a bowl, come in a variety of sizes, some quite large and nearly impossible for one person to complete. They are commonly eaten with lemons and powdered sugar, although jam is sometimes used as well. The pancakes eaten in Germany, however, are of the British variety. They are called Pfannkuchen, although in some areas that is instead the local name for Berliner, a type of doughnut. In Swabia, cut pancakes (Flädle) are a traditional soup ingredient.
In Scandinavia pancakes are similar to British but often contain a raising agent. They are traditionally served with strawberry jam and/or whipped cream. Pancakes are not ever eaten for breakfast. Traditional Swedish variations can be somewhat exotic. Some resemble British pancakes with a tiny diameter (called plättar), fried several at a time in a special pan. Others resemble German pancakes but include fried pork in the batter, these are cooked in an oven. There are also potato pancakes (called ragmunk), which contain shredded raw potato, sometimes other vegetables, is often served with pork rinds, and often do not contain any actual pancake batter. Both the latter pancakes are traditionally eaten with lingonberry jam.
In Malaysia and Singapore a pancake-like snack is made with a filling, usually cheese or kaya but occasionally bean paste, ground peanut, blueberry or custard. There are other interesting variations, such as those made with soya bean partially replacing the flour.
American pancake lovers travelling abroad should bring their own maple syrup, as it is produced in North America, and may be expensive and hard to come by elsewhere.
Most types of pancakes, but not the Breton galette are cooked one side at a time, being flipped by the cook halfway through. The process of tossing or flipping them is, to many people, part of the essence of the pancake, and one of the skills that separates the experienced cook from the beginner.
American pancakes can be made sweet or savory by adding foods like raisins, cheese or bacon to the batter. British pancakes can be stuffed after cooking with a wide variety of sweet or savoury fillings. Both are often sweetened after cooking by pouring on syrup or sprinkling with powdered sugar.
In the United States, the pancake is usually a breakfast food, but it is so popular that a franchised restaurant called International House of Pancakes, commonly called IHOP, has more than 1,000 restaurants.
In Britain, pancakes are eaten as a dessert, or served savoury with a main meal. They are also traditionally eaten on Shrove Tuesday which is also known as "Pancake Day". According to tradition, this was in order to use up the last of the fat and rich foods before Lent. Charity or school events are often organised on Pancake Day. One popular event is a foot race in which each participant carries a pancake on a frying pan. They have to keep tossing their pancakes in the air (and catching them again!) as they run.
Every Shrove Tuesday, the towns of Olney, England and Liberal, Kansas have a pancake flipping competition. The two towns' competitors race along an agreed-upon course, and the times of all of the two towns' competitors are compared, to determine a winner.
A simple pancake recipe
- In volleyball, a pancake is a pass technique executed by sliding the hand palm-down on the court during a dive, so that the ball bounces off of the back of the hand.
- Pancake is a form of makeup developed for use in filming early technicolor movies to prevent the actors' faces from looking green.
- In American football, pancake is used to denote the flattening of an opposing lineman by a blocker.
- A pancake landing is an emergency aircraft landing maneuver where the craft drops flat onto the ground from a low altitude.
- Breece D'J Pancake was a writer of short fiction from West Virginia.
- History of the Olney, England pancake race
- Delia Smith's basic British pancake recipe
- A basic American pancake recipe
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