Now that I'm back in the States, it's time to dedicate the next several weeks trying to recreate my favorite foods abroad. While I was in Japan, I became almost obsessed with the pancakes sold in almost every convenience store. These pancakes were sandwiched together with margarine and a copious amount of syrup. It sounds so simple, but it was, without a doubt, one of the top 3 desserts (or breakfast) that I had there. After making several batches and eating about 40 pancakes, I have finally discovered the recipe and am ready to share it with you all today!
Japanese Pancakes (Dorayaki)
- 1.75 ounces black sugar
- .75 ounces granulated sugar
- ¼ cup 60 ml water
- 2 tablespoon pancake syrup original
- 1 cup 140 grams all purpose flour
- ¼ cup 35 grams sweet rice flour
- ½ cup 100 grams sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¾ cup 175 ml milk
- Combine black sugar, granulated sugar, and water in a small saucepot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes or until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not disturb mixture while simmering. Remove from heat and let cool. Mix with pancake syrup and set aside.
- Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl (flour, sweet rice flour, baking soda, baking powder, and sugar). In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, honey, and milk. Stir dry ingredients into wet, mixing until just incorporated.
- Heat non-stick griddle over medium-low heat. Spray cooking spray, wiping away excess. Pour ¼ cup batter onto the pan to form one pancake. Drop batter about 6 inches above the pan. Pouring the batter high above allows the pancake to form perfect circles. When bubbles arise, pop and form holes about 2 minutes later, flip the pancake. Cook until golden browned on both sides. Remove and repeat with remaining batter.
- Let pancakes cool. Spread margarine on one side of each pancake. Drizzle syrup in the center of the pancake and top with other half. Serve at room temperature.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Pancakes are relatively easy to prepare. Mix the dry ingredients, usually flour, sugar, and some type of leavening agent such as baking powder or soda, with wet ingredients, milk, butter, and egg. Making sure not to over-mix, combine ingredients, and pour ladles onto a hot griddle. Flip when ready and cook until golden browned. The process is exactly the same for these Japanese pancakes, also known as Dorayaki. The main difference between the two breakfast staples is the type of flour used.
I prepared 5 different batches when trying to figure out the right combination. Japanese pancakes are light and most importantly, chewy. The first batch made with all-purpose flour did not have enough chew factor. The second with cake flour was light but too airy and no chewiness. The third with sweet rice flour had the chew factor but was a little too dense and had a certain graininess.
After tasting the difference between all of the flours, I opted to combine sweet rice flour and all-purpose. All-purpose gave the right weight but not enough chew; that's where the sweet rice flour came in. With the addition of another leavening agent, using both baking soda and baking powder and the mixture of the flours, I came out with the right combination. Happy dance time!
The same rules for when preparing American pancakes apply. Do not over mix - just mix until the ingredients are just incorporated. Use a griddle if you have one as they are the preferable choice of equipment. No need to use butter or oil to grease the pan. In fact, if there is too much oil or butter, the pancakes will not evenly brown. I found that the best solution was to spray cooking spray onto the pan, wiping away the excess with a paper towel.
Pour ¼ cup batter per pancake onto the griddle. Almost everyone says to flip when you see bubbles. The actuality is that you should flip when the bubbles come to the surface, pop, and form holes.
Another handy tip to get the perfect even color: know where your hot spots are on the pan. Heat almost never distributes evenly on a pan: wherever the flame source is where the pan will be the hottest. When I cooked 4 pancakes at a time, I realized the pancakes closest to the edges of the pan were not cooking evenly. Uneven heating will produce uneven coloring. The solution? Rotate the pan every 30 seconds or so to allow even heating. An easier fix can be to cook only 2 pancakes at a time in the center of the pan. Sure this takes longer but it also means every single pancake will come out beautifully golden brown.
Spread margarine, drizzle the pancake syrup, and sandwich together. It's important to use margarine rather than butter since margarine spreads easily and won't melt into the pancake. The margarine also acts as a barrier, preventing the syrup from soaking into the pancake. This way you can bite into the sandwich and get the syrup oozing out from the sides.
I finished all my Japanese pancakes including all the test batches and still found myself wanting more. These are delicious even without the margarine and syrup! You may be wondering, there are a ton of dorayaki recipes out there, what makes this one different? Most, if not all, dorayaki recipes are intended for a heavier filling such as red bean or cream, thus leading to a slightly denser pancake without the chew. Even if you have a favorite dorayaki recipe, give this one a try and see the difference!
For more Japanese snack inspiration check out these matcha beignets!