Let's discuss cooking pancakes. While I like the surface of cast-iron, it always results in uneven pancakes. The part nearest to the heat cooks up, while the outside part stays runny. If I increase the heat, I burn the suckers. Do I need to switch to stainless steel? What say you, foodpicklers?

  • Posted by: Rivka
  • December 13, 2010


macfadden March 23, 2016
I know this is an old question, but in case anyone comes across this thread and is still looking for suggestions, I have had good luck making pancakes in a cast iron skillet with a heat diffuser under it. The heat diffuser distributes the heat more evenly so you don't get pancakes that are done in the middle of the pan and raw closer to the edges of the pan. Mine is a solid metal disk and looks like this: http://ab.wsimgs.com/wsimgs/ab/images/dp/wcm/201607/0046/img47c.jpg. Though they don't seem to be very common here, they're not hard to find; I think I got mine at somewhere like Williams-Sonoma. It cost about $15 and I always use it under my cast iron skillet, even when I'm not making pancakes. Very handy.
AntoniaJames March 23, 2016
Thank you, macfadden. Very helpful. ;o)
anyone December 15, 2010
Cast Iron is the way to go just pay attention to the heat. What you described is a lack of attention to the flame. A good preheating and flame adjust would help. But your flame is too high causing what you described, turn down a little.
luv2cook December 14, 2010
I make pancakes in my lodge cast iron skillet. You need to pre-heat the pan for a good long time, however. With enough time the hot spots go away. Make sure that you sprinkle some water in the pan that it jumps immediately. After the first few pancakes, I usually have to moderate the heat a bit.
ktr March 23, 2016
I agree. They key is to heat the pan up for a long time before cooking. I usually start the pan heating up when I start mixing the pancakes up.
Nora December 14, 2010
I use a non-stick griddle that spans two eyes on my gas range and let it warm up for quite a while before I cook. I sprinkle water drops on the surface and when they dance and disappear right away, it's hot enough.

In days gone by, I used my electric skillet. I turned it up as high as it would go until it heated up, then turned it down for cooking the pancakes.
latoscana December 13, 2010
I'm also a fan on Calphalon's non-stick cast iron griddle (covers two burners). I patiently heat it first and test a few cakes.

When I bought it, years ago, the sales clerk looked at the price and asked me if I really wanted to spend that much on a griddle. She pointed to a stack of much cheaper ones. I assured her that I wanted this griddle and that I expected it to be the last griddle I would ever need to buy.
nutcakes December 13, 2010
My mother used to cook them on a nonstick electric griddle and that was the bomb for consistency. I use a nonstick 'comal', although I'd rather have a cast iron one for blackening chiles, tomatillos, onions and tomatoes.
MaryMaryCulinary December 13, 2010
I also use cast iron and never have to throw out the first pancake (or the first crepe either)! I heat it slowly, over medium-low to medium heat, till water dances on it. Then I cook my pancakes, often turning the heat down as I go. The iron pan seems to build heat. Just don't try to flip too early. If the top is still runny and the bottom is well-browned, your pan is too hot. For crepes, I use a French steel pan, and much the same technique.
susan G. December 13, 2010
I also vote for the cast iron skillet, heated to the right temp. In addition to my favorite pancakes (Oatmeal Buttermilk Wholegrain, from Eating Well), I have been making gluten-free Jonnycakes (in The Cornbread Gospels) lately -- both come out well. If I have more people to feed I use an electric frying pan, large non-stick, rectangular) -- which gives even heat, but doesn't have as good a surface texture. And contrary to the above, I think the first batch is the best...
betteirene December 13, 2010
I like cast iron for pancakes, too, because once I hit the exact right flame level, I'm good to go for the remainder of the batter, which is no small feat if you're making 10 nearly plate-sized pancakes. With thinner pans, I'm constantly fidgeting with the flame level.

My skillet (Lodge) has a hot spot. I work around it by 1) either cooking one large or four small pancakes at a time and 2) rotating the skillet on the burner halfway or so through the cooking time, before I make the first (and only) flip, and then I turn it back to its original position a minute or two after flipping. It works like this: Two ladles (for large) or four half-ladles (for small) of batter in the pan with the handle at 9 o'clock; as bubbles appear, turn the handle to 3 o'clock; when bubbles have mostly popped and the pancake can be safely flipped, turn pancake over; let it cook briefly, then turn the handle back to 9 o'clock and allow the pancake to cook completely.

Cooking one large or four small pancakes at a time allows for more control over the pancake, whether it's a thin, crepe-y kind or a thick, cake-y kind. Using cast iron, which is essentially non-stick, allows for not having to add extra fat, unlike stainless.

innoabrd December 13, 2010
I use a cast/enameled rectangular griddle. When I had a long, centre burner it worked great, but now I use it on two, uneven burners. Takes a bit of fiddling, but the secret, I find is to get the right eat in the first place. water sprinkled on the surface should dance for a bit before evaporating.
mrslarkin December 13, 2010
Those sound yummy, Rivka!

My go-to pancake recipe is this: http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Robies-Buttermilk-Flapjacks . They come out great with soured milk, too, if you're like me and never remember to buy buttermilk. (although i did today, after seeing Rivka's pickle, so thanks, Rivka!)
Rivka December 13, 2010
Funny, I was just thinking about the crepe pan as I submitted a crepe recipe for publication this weekend. Maybe I'll give that a try. Otherwise, nonstick will be next. And my pancake recipe is, was, and always has been this: http://www.notderbypie.com/the-best-buttermilk-pancakes/ thanks for your help!
iuzzini December 13, 2010
I use a nonstick pan as well- I had been burning them for years (I am overly zealous about cooking over a high heat)- anyway, medium heat, wait for bubbles and flip. And I agree- unfortunately, the first batch always need to be tossed-- or munched on while you are making the prettier ones. :) btw- what recipe are you using for your pancakes?
mrslarkin December 13, 2010
I use a non-stick rectangular griddle (calphalon maybe?) over the bridge element on my electric stove top. I think the trick is in heating the pan, whatever type you decide to use, to the right temperature. Not too hot, not too cool, just right. (which in and of itself is enough to drive me coocoo.)

I warm up the pan real good, say at medium heat, for several minutes, then turn it a notch or two down, wait 30 seconds and start cooking. And I always do one test pancake first, which usually ends up in the garbage.

Good luck Rivka!
pierino December 13, 2010
Perhaps experiment with a crepe pan. You make crepes the same way you do pancakes (and the first one you always toss out because the pan needs to be heated and retain heat). Crepes are thinner but the technique is almost identical to making pancakes. When you see bubbles on the surface flip it.
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