Pancakes might be one of the easiest recipes there is, but it could be still tricky to get them right. One thing I seem to always struggle with is my pancakes sticking to the frying pan. No matter what I do, the first pancake usually ends up in a messy scrunched up ball. It still gets eaten, so there is never any waste, but it certainly doesn’t make it past the ‘quality control’.
This is why in this blog post, I want to have a look at how to prevent your pancakes from sticking to the pan and help you to create pancakes that taste and look delicious too!
Use a non-stick frying pan
These days, most frying pans on the market are non-stick, but it’s worth checking if your pan is actually coated with non-stick material. Even if it is, it will still need a layer of oil to stop pancakes from sticking to the frying pan.
If you don’t have a non-stick frying pan, you will need to season your frying pan with oil first. This is the same process you need to go through if you want your galvanised bread tins not to stick to your bread. Your frying pan needs to have a layer of oil ‘baked’ in to prevent it from sticking. This is easy to do.
Simply heat up the frying pan (empty) on a very low heat and wipe the pan with a kitchen paper towel soaked in vegetable (or sunflower) oil. Keep it on medium heat and repeat. Finally, add a little bit more vegetable oil and swirl it around the frying pan and leave it in. Now you can start frying your pancakes.
Wipe your frying pan with oil
A little note about frying pans. Unless you are cooking something very spicey or strong flavoured, only wipe clean your frying pan with a kitchen paper towel when you finish. You don’t need to wash the frying pan every time you use it, just keep it clean.
If you do feel like you need to wash your frying pan, do that, but hand wash it and use a non-abrasive soft cloth and only a little bit of washing up liquid. It’s best not to use a dishwasher to wash your frying pan as the chemicals in the dishwasher tablets are too strong for the enamel, Teflon or non-stick pan.
If your frying pan is getting a little old (and was originally a non-stick coated frying pan), please check that there are no black bits of the Teflon coming off the surface. Not only that this is potentially dangerous to your health, it could also be a reason why your pancakes are sticking to the pan.
It’s also a good time to buy a new frying pan when you see that your frying pan is scratched too much.
Ideally, you might like to invest in a designated pancake frying pan, but I know that might not be something that everyone will want to do.
I bought one of these pancake frying pans because I like that they come off quite uniform and nice and thick (the frying pan holds the batter so that they don’t end up being flat around the edges). I get a lot of use of my pancake pan, as I use it for savoury egg courgette omelettes as well, so I think it’s definitely worth it.
Clean your frying pan before use
Make sure that you wipe your frying pan with vegetable oil before frying each pancake. I sometimes don’t follow this advice rigidly, for example, the second or third time, the frying pan seems to be greased enough to prevent the pancakes from sticking.
It’s entirely up to up if you use butter or oil, but I find that it’s best to keep the butter in the pancake’s batter (as an ingredient) and use oil to grease the frying pan. This is because butter can burn quicker than oil, and that can leave an unpleasant flavour on your pancakes.
Plus it’s more expensive, so I use vegetable oil. You can also use sunflower oil or coconut oil. They all work fine and can withstand a high frying temperature.
Cook your pancakes on low to medium heat
When I started to make pancakes more often, I was always too impatient and wanted to have my pancakes done really quickly. I soon realised that I need to be patient and go very slow on a medium (or even low) heat so that I don’t get my pancakes stuck and eventually burned.
Low heat is much easier to control and your pancakes are going to be cooked more evenly too.
Rest your pancake batter
This tip is pretty good advice even if your pancakes are not sticking to your pan. Similarly to kneading bread dough before you leave the bread to rise, leaving pancake batter to rest for 15-20 minutes helps to get the gluten awake in the flour.
The flour grains also soak up some of the milk or liquid, and the batter will thicken as a result. This not only makes better pancakes all around, but it also helps to prevent your batter from sticking to the frying pan.
Cook pancakes in the oven
O.K so here is a different take on the ‘sticking pancakes’ problem – if you don’t want them to stick to your frying pan, you can also bake them in the oven! Really? Yes!
It’s best to us a pancake griddle or a frying pan, which are suitable for the oven or a simple baking tray. Make your pancake batter as usual, preheat your oven to about 150 C (about 280F), grease your griddle or a baking tray with oil and pour the pancakes as you would normally do. Bake for about 5-7 minutes.
You won’t need to turn your pancakes, but do keep an eye on them, and if they look like they are browning too much, take them out, check and turn if needed.
The oven baking gives pancakes quite a lift and makes them lovely and fluffy, so it’s worth trying even if you are not too worried about your pancakes sticking to your frying pan.