Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Why Your Leftover Pancakes are an Epic Fail

Dear Tricia, Whenever I make pancake batter, I always end up making too much so I try to save it to cook the next day. Whenever I try to make pancakes on the next day though, they always come out flat. Why is that?

Good question. I can relate to your over-ambitious measuring. I used to always accidentally make too much pancake batter but I've never tried to save the extra to cook later. I think I'm just more of a French toast person.
There's a very simple reason why your pancakes are flat, and unfortunately, its nothing exciting: its just the baking powder. If you check out one of my older blogs about baking powder and baking soda, (Baking Powder vs. Baking Soda: The Ultimate Fight) you'll learn that baking powder works twice to make pancakes rise. First it starts to make the batter rise when it mixes with anything acidic (in pancakes its usually milk). That creates little carbon dioxide gas bubbles. Then the gas bubbles expand rise even more when it comes in contact with heat. That's why its called Double Acting baking powder: the gas bubbles work twice to make the pancake rise. Its like putting gas in a car: it takes a certain amount of gas to get the car started, and then it takes more gas to actually keep the car running. Except that baking powder is a lot cheaper than $2.44 a gallon and won't kill you when you put it in pancakes.
So when you make your pancake batter, whether its from scratch (I know... I'm mocking you by suggesting that), or out of a box, the baking powder starts doing its job as soon as it is completely mixed. But like, a car, what happens when you just leave it running? Eventually it will run out of gas. When you take the batter and mix it up, you'll notice it starts to bubble right away. When you refrigerate the batter and just let it sit, the baking powder runs of carbon dioxide (gas) to make bubbles and eventually the bubbles all pop and make your pancakes flat. Its actually kind of sad, isn't it?
So if you're fine with flat pancakes (come on... don't be picky... we're in a recession!), they're completely safe and sound to eat the next day, but you might be happier sticking two of them together with some syrup and sausage and making your own homemade McGriddle. I guarantee you that yours will give you less McGurgles than the real deal.

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