Pancakes are the quintessential American food and it’s evident in the stacks and stacks of pancakes served at every IHOP restaurant every single day! These fluffy, slightly sweet, and soft breakfast fare are so popular that many people even like eating them for lunch, dinner and snacks, usually with different sweet and savory toppings.
This begs the question: How does IHOP makes its delicious pancakes? Here, we will take a look at the ways that IHOP gets it right, if not perfect, according to Marie Grimm, former Vice President for Culinary Innovation at IHOP and an eminent culinary consultant.
#1 Never Overwork the Batter
Many people like to make the smoothest pancake batter in the belief that it will result in equally smooth pancakes. But it’s a serious mistake because the pancakes will come out hard as rocks, so to speak. Instead, just break down the large lumps into smaller pea-sized ones and stop there. The batter will be ready to pour when small lumps remain since these tiny clumps of flour will be incorporated once the batter is on the grill.
#2 Use Ice-cold Liquid Ingredients
Every liquid ingredient – water, oil, eggs, and milk, even the vanilla – used in making the pancake batter should be ice-cold before these are mixed in with the dry ingredients. The reason: Liquid ingredients at room or warm temperature can cause the gluten in flour to heat up prematurely. When it happens, the chemical reactions responsible for making pancakes springy, fluffy, and light are set off prematurely.
Be sure to leave the liquid ingredients inside the fridge until these are needed for the batter.
#3 Skip the Butter
Many pancake recipes use butter or oil on the griddle obviously to make the flipping process easier. But according to Grimm, IHOP chefs skip the butter on the griddle because it gives the pancakes a webbed appearance. IHOP pancakes, in contrast, have a uniformly golden surface, part of their appeal for diners who want a taste of their grandmother’s golden pancakes.
But if you’re worried about the pancake batter sticking to the grill, you can rub a small amount of Crisco on the cold grill using a paper towel. Plus, this trick will reduce the fat content on your pancakes so it’s a win-win situation.
#4 Go Easy on the Mix-ins
The IHOP pancakes are flavorful yet these don’t contain as much mix-ins in the batter as expected. There’s a good reason for it: The mix-ins will add moisture to the batter that, in turn, will affect its consistency and texture. More mix-ins also mean that the batter will be harder to flip so the less mix-ins, the better for the resulting pancakes.
But don’t worry about it too much either. You can go crazy with the toppings once the pancakes are stacked on your plate.
#5 Use a Hot Pan or Griddle
The pancake batter should be poured a small cup or ladle at a time on a hot pan. This way, the pancakes will be perfectly cooked – fluffy in appearance, springy to the touch, and light with a slightly sweet taste in the mouth.
Just how hot is hot for pancakes? Grimm suggests medium to medium-high heat, which translates to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You don’t need a kitchen thermometer for it since you just have to let the pan or griddle warm up for a few minutes. You can test its heat by placing a few drops of the batter into its surface – if it sizzles noisily, then the first ladle or cup of batter can be poured into it.
#6 Look Beyond the Bubbles
The bubbles on the pancake batter are the first sign that we all look for when determining when it’s time to flip the pancake. But Grimm suggests looking beyond the bubbles!
Look at the edges of the pancake. If it begins to round out and it has formed a lip or edge, then it’s time to flip the pancake to cook it on the other side. This is true whether you see a bunch of bubbles or not.
Why is this so? According to Grimm, if you wait for the bubbles to appear, the pancake’s bottom may already be overcooked.
After the pancakes are cooked, you should eat them while these are still warm, even hot. You don’t want cold pancakes because the light mouth-feel and comfort food feeling are mostly gone from them. You can, of course, reheat pancakes in the microwave oven, if you want to enjoy them as if they are freshly made.
The best thing about pancakes is that these can be paired with both sweet and savory toppings! At IHOP, for example, diners can choose from bacon and eggs as well as fresh fruits, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce, among others. The number of choices can be bewildering and bewitching but it’s one of the reasons for the pancake-centric chain’s enduring popularity.