Pancake

February 1, 2017 ☼ Word of the Day

A thin cake of batter fried in a pan or on a griddle; a griddlecake; a flapjack.

Our word of the day is the second compound word in our list, but the first breakfast foodstuff. To the carb-fiends and Catholics whose ears are piqued, pay attention to pancake.

A simple food with many names: flapjack, griddlecake, hotcake. Flannelcake too. And why not? If you weren’t picturing a barrel-chested lumberjack hoisting a whole short stack to his gaping maw with a fork, you are now.

These English synonyms have foreign cousins; many cultures on Earth have a hot take on the hotcake. For the Russians, it’s blini. The French mangez les crêpes and the Dutch scarf down pannekoeken.

It’s all pancakesIt’s all pancakes

For those cultures reading who are not from Earth, the griddle gal is a simple food. It’s served for breakfast (another compound word), the first meal of the day.

The elementary version of pan-fried starch circles takes flour, eggs and milk.

Chemically speaking, this is a cake. The egg and milk bind the flour which itself contains two proteins: glutenin and gliadin. These two combine to form gluten, a deadly poison for slender humans. You mix the ingredients in a glass bowl (because it’s prettier) and cook them on a hot pan with fat. In places like France, the cakes are paper thin and brown. The nations that require fluffy white ones must add a leavening agent to the mix.

Leavening agents are molecules which help add bubbles (and thus airiness) to bread and pancakes. Traditionally humans dispatch critters called yeast to do this work, but ain’t nobody got time for that in the morning. Plus they would give your flannelcakes (hmm, getting used to it) a malty flavor. So we turn to chemicals.

Baking powder is baking soda (an alkali) with a bit of cream of tartar (an acid). When activated these chemicals release carbon dioxide which create the bubbles that puff up your hot flats.

If you are making the buttermilk variety (and you simply must), replace the baking powder with baking soda instead. The buttermilk will react with baking soda alone, thanks to lactic acid.

This is probably more information than you need about our banal Earthling ways. To conclude: mix it up and glob the mess into a pre-warmed skillet.

According to Earth lore the first to the fire will cook poorly and be sacrificed to the Gods. According to Pinterest lore, flappity jacks may be topped with blueberries placed just so. According to lumberjack oral tradition, maple syrup and butter are standard. Some people use corn syrup and I think that’s weird. I’m also one of them.