The Pancake Debate – Thick or Thin?
No need to pick a side. Keep calm and eat a pancake. Okay! I will admit, It is probably easier for me to remain neutral on this one especially being raised in Ghana where the texture of the pancake never really mattered so long as it made my taste buds happy. I have, however, had the pleasure of having French style (crepe) pancakes on the beautiful shores of Saint Malo in France and I remember thinking it was the best food I tasted that summer.
Let me ask you, do you think fluffy pancakes taste better than the crepe style? Do you go crazy when your pancake cannot soak all the goodness out of a pure maple syrup? Whether you call it pannenkoeken, crepe, palatschinke, crespella, panquecas or hotcake, there’s one thing you can’t deny, pancakes give life to our taste buds!!!! End of discussion. I completely understand our culture and upbringing strongly influences our meal preferences, but is there an actual winner?
The debate around pancake styles have been going on for so long and today I am here to settle it! Yes! I am a self appointed food judge.
Most European pancakes fall under the crepes category because they are bigger, thinner and probably require a bit more skill while the American pancakes also known as hotcakes are smaller, fluffier and easy to make (in my opinion).
I could bore you with all the scientific facts and go on and on about how gluten molecules become active when liquid ingredients such as milk and egg are added causing the plastic and elastic feel of the batter. OR I could simply tell you that the main difference between crepes and the pancakes is the rising agent (baking powder) and the liquid to flour ratio in the batter preparation.
On this lovely Monday morning, I will be tasting a Dutch style pancake and an American style pancake. As your trusted taster, I will share my findings. My Old Dutch in Holborn, London is my pick for this journey.
I brought my dear friend Efya with me for today’s tasting session. We ordered the Old Dutch Signature pancake which is one of their savoury pancakes containing smoked bacon, chicken, ham, sweet pepper, mushrooms, sweetcorn & cheese. This was the biggest pancake I have ever seen! Thank God we shared. We then ordered the butterscotch (American style) with strawberries, blueberries and maple syrup.
One can never go wrong with sweet pancakes just because the colours and presentation affects our mind even before we taste it. Is that the reason why Efya preferred the butterscotch option? Possibly! She has never had savoury pancakes and to Efya seeing bacon and vegetables on pancake was an unusual experience and she had no idea that it could have potentially affected her tastebuds. One thing I found interesting, however, was how she complained because she just couldn’t get the whip cream on the butterscotch pancakes. She felt the fluffy texture of the butterscotch did not complement the topping. Feel of food is so necessary to the final taste of it and it was so evident when Efya easily cut through her Dutch style pancake with her cutlery and easily manoeuvred her way through the bacon and cheese. It created an excitement and that opened her mind to the world of savoury pancakes. People usually confess that fluffy pancakes take longer to eat and thus make them full quicker. Even though she enjoyed the crepe style pancake because of its thin texture, she preferred the American style because of what she saw and that affected her taste.
Conclusion! The texture of a meal is not the only basis to decide on the taste of food and that is why this debate is never ending. Our eyesight work together with sense of touch, smell and sound to trigger our taste. In this session for example, Efya’s vision and feel were very dominant in affecting her taste. Her final verdict? American style!
Try this tasting session if you haven’t already and let me know what you think.