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Ever wondered what turns your buttermilk batter into a fluffy flapjack? Science explains.

© Del's Cooking Twist

How often do you think about the science that went into preparing the meals you enjoy everyday? If you're like us, probably not THAT often. Don't forget: basic scientific knowledge leads to better cooking. Let's start with America's favorite breakfast food: the pancake.

The simplest pancake formula is comprised of two components: dry ingredients and wet ingredients. In your dry ingredients, you have flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. For the wet ingredients, you have eggs, milk, and butter. On the griddle, a series of chemical reactions occur to create the pancakes that we love.

© Peaches Please

Flour is made up of proteins that, when mixed with liquid, forms gluten. This gluten, along with the protein from the eggs, gives the batter structure for the pancakes to be formed.

The sugar not only adds to the taste of the pancake, it counteracts some of the gluten production and prevents the pancake from over-thickening.

The baking soda acts as a rising agent, just like yeast in bread. The carbon dioxide in the baking soda expands in the gluten, thus causing the pancake to rise.

Pro tip: don't overstir! You want your batter to be a bit lumpy, otherwise too much gluten will form and your consistency will be off.

© A Mom's Take 

Turn up the heat and that's when the Maillard Reaction comes into play. During this reaction, the sugars and proteins in the mixture combine. This is what gives pancakes their golden brown color, as well as their distinct smell and flavor! 

Think about this on Sunday morning when you're busy flipping pancakes over the stove. The perfect pancake doesn't come naturally! You need science, sugar, and a bit of love.


Hungry? Check out our recipes for Top Pancake Recipes and Genious Pancake Tips here.

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