We’re picturing this experiment being borne out of a scene from The Big Bang Theory. You know the drill. Sheldon isn’t pleased with the pancakes he’s been served and, Bazinga!, decides to rope in Leonard, Howard and Raj to uncover the recipe for the perfect pancake. Well, it seems that the math professors at the University of Wolverhampton in the UK probably faced the same dilemma and decided to take
matters batter into their own hands.
Frying pans and spatulas at the ready! Here’s what it looks like: 100 – [10L - 7F + C(k - C) + T(m - T)]/(S – E). Yeah, we don’t know what it all exactly means either. But if you’re a math genius (or scientists like The Big Bang Theory boys) you’ll be happy to have unlocked the pancake version of the “Cadbury Secret”.
Here’s how the formula breaks down in your quest for pancake perfection:
L – ideally you have zero of these as they stand for lumps.
F – you want to score 100 here as this is your flipping score.
C – ideal score is a 10 and this is for Consistency.
T – 375 = the temperature of the pan you’re using to cook the cakes in.
m – 377 = the perfect pan temperature (mathematicians can be such perfectionists!)
S – 30 seconds = the time batter stands before cooking.
E – 0 = the time a cooked pancake sits around before being devoured.
The closer you get to your 100 score, the better your pancakes. Got that? Good because you can explain it to us later.
This formula comes just in time for the tradition of Shrove Tuesday where pancakes are made and eaten to mark the beginning of the 40-day Lenten fast in many parts of the world. In the UK where pancake making on this particular day is still as common as 4 o’clock tea, this precise formula from the math professors at the University of Wolverhampton is probably being welcomed by cooks with open arms – that’s if they can decipher all the science that comes along with it.
For the rest of us mere mortals, we give you top tips from two of Canada’s culinary pros: former Canadian Living food editor, columnist and cookbook author Elizabeth Baird and Home Economist, recipe developer and cookbook author Emily Richards. Here are their top pancake do’s and dont’s so that your Shrove Thursday aspires to be as delicious as the afore-mentioned formula.
Use active baking powder that will give you fluffy pancakes (check the best before dates and write the date of purchase when you get home) – Emily Richards
Measure ingredients carefully – the dry ones like flour in dry measuring cups, the wet ones like buttermilk in a liquid measuring cup – Elizabeth Baird
Use a 1/4 cup (60 ml) measuring cup to portion out the batter – Elizabeth Baird
After combining the dry and wet ingredients, let the batter rest for a few minutes, up to 30 if you have time – Elizabeth Baird
Both women advise that you don’t over mix the wet and dry ingredients. Whisk just until blended, and don’t worry about lumps. Take that mathematicians who say zero lumps make a “perfect” pancake equation! Stick to math!
Don’t crowd pancakes into a frying pan. Use a griddle, allowing plenty of space so batter forms a perfect round, without flowing into its neighbouring pancake. – Elizabeth Baird
Don’t over-cook: Turn the pancakes when the bubbles that flow up from the bottom burst but don’t fill in and the sides of the pancakes go from shiny to matte.
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