Three words was all it took to turn my world upside down: Japanese souffle pancakes. If you want to be technical, it was really only the “souffle pancakes” part that got me. They are wildly popular in Japanese restaurants, but it was not the origin story that lured me, it was the souffle.
First I needed a set of ring molds, like large napkin rings about 3 inches wide and 2-1/2 inches high. I bought mine at a restaurant supply store, but you can order them online. Or here’s a cheaper alternative: Find a can of tuna fish that is about the right size, cut off the top, eat the tuna, cut off the bottom and clean it thoroughly. Instant ring mold, plus you get tuna for lunch.
Besides the molds there is only one difference between souffle pancakes and regular pancakes, and that is the part that makes it a souffle. All you do is whip egg whites to stiff peaks — you can use a mixer; I used a whisk — and fold it gently into the rest of the batter.
Between the whipped eggs and some baking powder, you get pancakes that cook up remarkably tall, fluffy and light. They are absurdly delectable, and maybe just a touch more cake-like than ordinary pancakes. They feel like celebratory pancakes, the kind of thing to bring out on special occasions.
Powdered sugar is highly recommended. Syrup is essential.
JAPANESE SOUFFLE PANCAKES
Adapted from Food Network Kitchen
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/4 cups milk
- 4 tablespoons butter cut into pieces
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Butter, maple syrup, powdered sugar (for serving)
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, powdered sugar, baking powder and salt.
Heat milk and butter together in a saucepan over medium just until butter melts.
Place egg yolk in a medium bowl and whisk in just a few drops of milk mixture at a time. Keep whisking and adding milk mixture, gradually increasing the amount of milk mixture. Stir in vanilla.
In another bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar together until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes.
Stir milk mixture into flour mixture until just combined (it’s OK if there are a few lumps). Stir in 1/3 of beaten egg whites, then gently fold in remaining egg whites until just combined, taking care not to over mix.
Lightly butter the inside of the ring molds or spray with nonstick spray.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-low. Coat with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Place prepared ring molds in middle of skillet and fill each with 1/2 cup batter, filling each ring about halfway.
Cover skillet and cook until batter is golden on the bottom — it should rise to the tops of the molds, be bubbly on top and jiggle only slightly when shaken. Using a spatula and tongs, carefully flip the ring molds. Cover and cook until golden on the other side.
Serve with butter and maple syrup and maybe some more powdered sugar. Makes 8 pancakes.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 211 calories, 8 g total fat, 4 g saturated fat, 109 mg cholesterol, 8 g protein, 26 g carbohydrate, 7 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 213 mg sodium, 177 mg calcium.