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You’ve been making crêpes, not pancakes.

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My pancakes are so yummy and fluffy that my cousin had me make them for her three times within the space of two days. When she complained that her pancakes never get as fluffy as mine, the first question I asked her was if she puts baking powder in her batter. She said “no.”

Many people don’t know the difference, but crêpes and pancakes are not the same. They have a similar mixture, but if your pancakes haven’t been turning out fluffy, then there’s a good chance you have been making crêpes.

What are crêpes?

Crêpes are essentially very thin pancakes. The most basic crêpes may simply be a mixture of flour, water and salt. It could also be a mixture of flour, water, sugar, egg, milk and salt. They can be made in literally a hundred different ways, stuffed with anything from chocolate spread to chicken and vegetables. In fact, the yummy stuffed pancakes from Chitis that I enjoyed as a child were in fact crêpes stuffed with fish.

What are pancakes?

Depending on who you ask, a pancake may be described as a kind of cake or bread. From the name, you could say it’s a kind of cake cooked in a pan. Well, except that regular cakes are in fact cooked in pans, even if they’re a different kind of pan. I found it interesting to learn that there are pancakes actually made using yeast as the rising agent instead of baking powder.

Main differences between pancakes and crêpes

1. The primary difference between a pancake and a crêpe is that one has a raising agent and the other doesn’t. Pancakes are made using a dash of baking powder, which does a lot to make them fluffy. Crêpes, on the other hand, are very thin and so don’t need a rising agent like baking powder.

2. Crêpes are often made with a filling which is folded or rolled into it afterwards. Pancakes, on the other hand, tend to have fillings mixed into the batter and then fried.

3. Finally, crêpes may be made sweet or savory, but pancakes are typically made sweet.

Of course, there are no rules to these things as different people have their own unique preferences. However, I hope it’s now easier to differentiate between a pancake and a crêpe.

How to make fluffy pancakes

If you’re looking to make yummy, fluffy pancakes like mine 😉, remember these tips when you’re making your next batch of pancakes:

1. Beat the egg whites and egg yolk separately

I don’t usually do this, especially when I want a quick batter, but it can really make a difference. Set the egg white aside and beat in the yolk with the rest of the ingredients to make your batter. Then whisk the egg white, preferably with an electric whisk until it forms a stiff, cloud-like peak. Once you’re ready to fry, fold the egg white into the batter gently. You still want to be able to see some of the egg white, so don’t combine it completely.

2. Don’t over beat the batter

I know mixing can be fun, but the more you beat the batter, the more you let the air out. Mix it enough to combine the ingredients and leave it alone. It’s perfectly fine for the batter to have small lumps.

3. Leave the batter for 15 to 30 minutes

Leaving the batter for some time allows the flour to really soak in the ingredients. This gives it a better texture. If you’d like a quick breakfast in the morning, you could actually make your pancake batter the night before and leave it in the fridge through the night.

4. Flip the batter only when you start seeing holes

In case you didn’t know this one, you should only flip the pancake when you start seeing holes on the top. I’m not talking about just one hole. If you’re frying more than one pancake at a time, some pancakes may start forming holes before others, but that’s fine.

5. Don’t flip the pancake more than once

Think of all the videos you’ve seen of chefs flipping pancakes. They don’t flip the same pancake over and over and they certainly don’t use their spatula to pat the pancake down. Don’t do that either. If you allow the bubbles to start forming on top, the bottom should be nicely browned by the time you flip it.

6. Don’t make your batter runny

For the fluffier pancakes, make your batter about as thick as cake batter or slightly less so. Your goal should be a small round cake, not a wide one that fills out the pan.

Do pancakes have to be fluffy?

Of course not. Growing up, my mom didn’t put baking powder in pancakes. She likes her pancakes that way, but I prefer fluffy pancakes. According to some, British pancakes and made with baking powder, while American ones are. I don’t know if this is true, but I do know that pancakes are versatile and can be made in so many different ways. Go with whatever you like most and be happy.

So, are you a fluffy pancake person?

Korayday is a multi-media creative. She's a ghost copywriter who writes fiction and daydreams about making films in her spare time. Korayday is the creator of the Yoruba Igbo Muslimah podcast, a foodie, and part-time cyborg. Find her work on her blog, korayday.com.

9 thoughts on “You’ve been making crêpes, not pancakes.

  1. Can I just cry already. I noticed sometimes my pancakes were not fluffy and I used to think probably its one of those bad pancake day. I didn’t know baking powder is like the major ingredient. I thought it was optional so some days I use and see days I don’t.
    Thanks for this post Dear. Very helpful

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  2. I’m not really a pan cake person so I don’t even know why mine doesn’t turn out sweet and fluffy. I’ve been wondering what my mom adds to hers, she makes the yummiest pan cakes by the way, now I know, I think it’s baking powder.

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