Here is a tried and true recipe for the pancakes that are all the rage right now. I made this four times to get it just right, and am very happy with the results! If you’ve been hearing about this craze but are GF and can’t just buy them from somewhere else and/or are worried that a GF recipe just won’t be worthwhile, drop what you’re doing and make these right now. I promise they will work and they will be some of the best pancakes your taste buds have encountered.
What is The Gluten-Free Skeptic?
The Gluten-Free Skeptic is a new series on this blog! It will normally be posted on the first and third Thursday of each month. I started this series because, well, I’m a GF skeptic. We have been GF for Derek’s bowels sake for almost a year and I still have some doubts about GF baking, and cooking in general. I always pass by pins on Pinterest claiming to be the best ‘GF whatever’, and I look at the recipe and think “yeah right.” There are so many people out there that don’t really understand the science of baking/cooking that GF recipes either hold up enough for pretty pictures but taste nothing like the food they are imitating, have nowhere near the right texture, or are very tedious to make compared to the gluten version (and not worth all the effort).
Because of this large discrepancy between gluten-free recipes, I have been struggling to find people I actually trust to tell me that a recipe is good. So, here we are. This new series is dedicated to trying those otherwise too-good-to-be-true GF recipes and let you know what’s good and what isn’t. If I can’t find a recipe that’s up to my standards, well, I’ll just make it myself. Let’s get into the first edition!
What Should a Japanese Souffle Pancake Be Like?
A Japanese pancake should be light and fluffy like a souffle. The pancake should be very thick compared to a western-style pancake and even ‘tall’ if you use a ring mold (I had a horrible time with the ring molds and a lot more success without them. I would just skip the whole ordeal if I were you, they get plenty tall without them and I like the more natural look of these guys). The pancakes can have a slight jiggle to them if done right, but it isn’t a complete necessity.
The pancakes should be very eggy like custard or creme brulee. They are fairly sweet on their own and can be eaten with just some berries and whipped cream. Some recipes state that baking powder ruined the eggy flavor, but when I made one with and another without baking powder, I saw no difference. Use the baking powder to give your gluten-free babies some much-needed help.
I have been seeing Japanese Souffle Style Pancakes EVERYWHERE. They jiggle, are fluffy, and look oh so delicious. I, of course, could whip up a few gluten versions for myself and go on my merry way, but the food is no fun if you can’t share the experience with others. So, I decided that a GF version must be had. I googled for a recipe, and well, I was disappointed. I found a total of two recipes and they both sucked. One even said right on the post that it was more the texture of mochi than the eggy souffle they are supposed to be like and that wasn’t going to cut it for me.
So, I decided to turn to the gluten recipes I found the most authentic, recipes created by people who had actually gone to Japan to try the darn things, into GF versions. I found two recipes that had the same exact ingredients but different processes. The first recipe I tried, I tried twice. The first time they were gritty because the sugar was improperly incorporated into the egg whites and the second attempt they wouldn’t rise quite as high as I hoped. I then turned to the second recipe by Just One Cookbook and on my first try, I was very impressed. They turned out perfect. I then made them a second time with GF flour and was still very impressed, hardly a difference between the gluten and GF versions!
So here is what I did to make it GF. I decided to turn to Gluten Free on a Shoestring for a flour blend, she knows what she is talking about and I trust her recipes. I looked through her flour blends and realized she listed what each flour blend was good for and why. She made it super easy on me to pick the flour to use. As described by her, we need a xanthan gum free flour blend to allow us to make fluffy and delicate recipes (exactly what we are going for). So, I used her Basic Gum Free Gluten-Free Flour Blend (which she also so nicely provides in percentages so you can make whatever amount you need).
I recommend reading the process of Just One Cookbook to get a better understanding of why you do what you do and for great pictures that walk you through what everything should look like. The process I use is practically identical.
This recipe is a bit technical, so if this is your first time in a kitchen, it may be a bit hard. However, I’m a firm believer that if you read the directions carefully and don’t improvise, everything should turn out great!
Notes about the Recipe
- Read all the instructions before starting, this is a technique-heavy recipe.
- Use the flour blend provided and use a good brand of flours to make the blend.
- Make sure your eggs actually reach stiff peaks (it’s easy to call it early and get medium peaks instead).
- Take your time, these take a while to cook and shouldn’t be rushed.
- Be gentle. The majority of the height comes from the egg whites, so be gentle when mixing and flipping to prevent knocking the air out of the egg whites.
- If you are going to double or triple this recipe, it will take a bit more work. For best results, I would either make sure you have enough pans to cook all the pancakes at once (egg whites will lose volume if they sit), or be prepared to make a new batter for every batch you want.
- These do not save well, eat ’em while they’re hot!
Fluffy Japanese Souffle Pancakes
Warm, fluffy, and eggy pancakes made gluten-free.
I can’t guarantee your recipe will work if you don’t use the same flour blend I did. GF flours are all very different and can’t always be used in place of others. I used Bob’s Red Mill white rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca starch.
- 36 grams Gum Free Flour Blend [24g white rice flour, 8g potato starch not flour, 4g tapioca starch/flour (it’s the same thing)]
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 tablespoons whole milk
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar (do not substitute, if you want healthy pancakes, then this isn’t the recipe for you)
- 1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil for greasing pan (vegetable, canola, etc)
- Water – Optional Toppings-
- Fresh Whipped Cream
- Powdered Sugar
- Maple Syrup
- Other things you would put on pancakes
Directions1. Make the flour blend. Weigh out your flour blend into a small container with a lid. Shake to blend the flours once measured out. Set aside.
2. Separate the eggs. Separate your egg whites into a small bowl/container and your yolks into a medium glass or metal bowl. Place the bowl of egg whites into the fridge if you do not have freezer space (I didn’t). If you have freezer space, put the egg whites into the freezer for 15 minutes while you continue to the next steps (take out of the freezer after 15 minutes and place into the fridge).
3. Add milk and vanilla. Add the milk and vanilla to the egg yolks and whisk until well incorporated and frothy.
4. Sift. Sift the flour blend and baking powder into the egg yolk mixture. DO NOT skip this step, it is very important to get a nice smooth and therefore fluffy batter.
5. Whisk. Whisk the flour and baking powder into the egg yolk mixture until combined, but do not overmix.
6. Prepare to mix egg white. Measure out the sugar into a small bowl and set aside. Remove the egg whites from the freezer after 15 minutes (or the fridge if you didn’t freeze). Place the egg whites into a metal or glass bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) that is clean and free from oil/water (including the oil from your hands)! If you didn’t freeze your egg whites, get an ice pack to hold/place under your bowl to keep it nice and cold.
7. Beat egg whites. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, begin to whip the egg whites on medium/high. When the egg whites begin to turn frothy and are starting to look paler, slowly sprinkle in the sugar. It took me about 1-2 minutes to get all my sugar in, just go slow. If you accidentally put in a ton at once, just wait about 20 seconds for it to get incorporated (this process prevents grainy pancakes and ensures the sugar dissolves). Once the egg whites have reached stiff peaks and are glossy, they are done.
8. Preheat Pan. Heat a large non-stick skillet (one you have a lid for) over the lowest heat you can on the stove (or 300F on an electric griddle with a lid). Leave to heat while you continue with the rest of the steps.
9. Fold in egg whites. Once you have reached stiff peaks, scoop out a third of egg whites and gently whisk into the egg yolk mixture. Don’t worry too much about losing volume and don’t over mix, mix just until you no longer see large white streaks of egg. Take half the remaining egg white mixture and place into the egg yolk mixture. Gently fold the egg whites in with a whisk (not a spatula) until you no longer see large white streaks of egg. Finally, place the egg yolks into the egg whites and continue to fold with a whisk just until they come together.
10. Grease Pan. Your pan should be warm but not hot (gently hover your hand over the pan about 2 inches away to see how warm it is, if it’s too hot put in some cool water, swirl it around, and pour out to cool the pan down). Pour your oil into the pan and wipe away any excess with a paper towel and make sure the entire surface is greased (this gives you a nice even brown color).
11. Make pancakes. To make the pancakes, get a large spoon (just bigger than a spoon you’d eat off of).
- 1st Scoop. Using the spoon, scoop about 2-3 tablespoons of batter out, place the batter onto the pan and gently round out the bottom. Repeat this two more times leaving plenty of room in between. This is the base of your three pancakes.
- 2nd Scoop. As soon as you finish making the base of the three pancakes, top each with another spoonful (be careful to add a bit less than your first scoop or it will overflow and ruin your perfect circle). You are trying to ‘stack’ the scoops on top to increase the height of the pancake.
- 3rd Scoop. Once you have finished adding a second scoop to all three pancakes, add a third one in the same fashion, again trying to focus on vertically adding batter.
- Add Water. Add a small amount of water (~ 1 tablespoon) in between the pancakes and lid the pan. Wait for two minutes.
- Final Scoop. After two minutes, top your pancakes with one more scoop finishing off the remaining batter. Add a bit more water (this makes sure they steam and don’t dry out). Lid the pan and leave to cook for about 4-6 more minutes (this is a rough estimation, it really depends on your pan. Once 4 minutes have passed, try flipping with a spatula, if you cant easily get under or they are pale underneath, then they are not ready).
- Flip. To flip your pancakes use the thinnest spatula you own or an offset metal spatula and gently get under the pancake on one side (it should be easy. If the pancake is hard to get under or caving in the middle, leave for a few more minutes to stiffen up and finish cooking), after you have loosened up one side of the pancake, go to the opposite side and loosen the pancake up on that side. Once the pancake is loose from the bottom, gently flip the pancakes (you are kind of rolling the pancake to the other side, not flicking your wrist quickly to flip like a standard pancake). Flip all three pancakes, add more water, and leave to cook for 4-5 minutes.
12. Serve. Once all the pancakes are golden brown on both sides, plate them up! Top with your favorite pancake toppings and devour. If you are multiplying this recipe, immediately serve the pancakes as they finish cooking, as they lose their fluff overtime.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe, and if you have any questions feel free to comment below or use the contact page. I will typically reply within the hour.
If you want to learn how to get great food photos like the ones in this post, check out 10 Tips for Better Food Photos.
Interested in more recipes?
Thank you so much for all the support and may your pancakes be full of air and cooked to perfection!