Pancakes Are Hard

I can get pretty frustrated while cooking. I don’t know why: I know I’m not super good at it and my expectations should be relatively low, so what’s there to be upset about?

And yet… lots of swearing, by me, in the kitchen, on a still regular basis, generally directed at the pots and pans and spatulas and ingredients and the stovetop (oh the stupid stovetop1!) and myself.

I mean, it’s cooking: you put the ingredients in the bowl, pour them into the frying pan, they cook, and you take them out. How hard is that?

And even when you have a level-headed moment of clarity where the voice in the back of your head perks up and goes, “well, actually…”, it’s pretty easy to dismiss. “Ok, fine,” you say. “Some things can be hard. But this is pancakes. Pancakes!” and you throw the frying pan across the room at the dog, who’s done nothing wrong and is already shaking in the corner. 2.

This is pancakes and it turns out they’re not a slam dunk. It turns out, you can overmix the batter, you can mess up the temperature of the griddle, you can flip them too early, you can mess up the distribution of the chocolate chips, you can crowd the pan so your silver dollars become one giant frisbee instead. You can mess up pancakes a lot of ways3

Here’s what I’ve figured out: don’t mix the batter as long as you think you need to (you should still be able to see some flour in the batter), let the pan or the griddle warm up for twice as long as you think it needs (it’s better to have it too hot than too cool), and wait to flip them until you absolutely can’t stand it anymore (they should come off the pan without any resistance, and you should see the sides cook up almost all the way to the top). Basically, nothing works the way you think it should with pancakes.

That is some good chocolate chip distribution
Look at the sides on those!
  1. I wrote this back when I was living in an apartment with a glass stovetop. I know some people like them, but I hated that thing.
  2. Just kidding. I’d sooner make pancakes *for* my dog than throw the frying pan at her
  3. And yes, I know that as long as you don’t distribute them out of the pancakes entirely, you can’t really actually mess up the chocolate chip distribution, but if we’re gonna do this, let’s do it right I say. Spread them out evenly!

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