These little pancakes are quite famous in Japan and on the internet, where they’re beloved for their elegant height and the delightful way they jiggle on the plate. We love them because they’re delicious. They’re made with everything you’d find in a regular old pancake, and yet they have a delicate, almost crepe-like egginess and a light, unbelievably fluffy texture. We could eat a million of them.
Luckily, they’re only slightly more complicated than the average flapjack: all that fluffiness comes down to the egg-to-flour ratio, a whisk — and a little bit of steam.
There are three eggs in the batter and only a half cup of flour. We separate the eggs, and the yolks go directly into the batter. The whites get beaten into a nice, stiff meringue and folded into the batter for extra loft. But how do you achieve that height? Some recipes will have you pour the pancake batter into ring molds. In the test kitchen, we like a less fussy method, so we simply top the pancakes with batter three times — building a kind of tower — and steam them between each addition. Doing so gives them admirable elevation, optimal wobble, and a fluffy-as-clouds texture.
On a plate, these jiggle towers of perfection look wonderful — definitely the stuff of fancy brunches. We also love making them for our kids, who go wild at the sight of them. The benefit of very tall pancakes is that they have a better-than-average capacity for absorbing syrup, whipped cream, and fruit juice. Pile on the goodies! Unlike denser pancakes, these won’t get soggy or fall apart.
3 large Gelson’s eggs separated, plus one extra egg white, divided
2 Tbsp whole milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup cake flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
Water, for steaming
Whipped cream, for garnish
Strawberries, for garnish
In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 of the egg yolks, milk, and vanilla extract until well blended. Note: you may discard the 4th egg yolk.
Sift the flour and baking powder into the egg mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined.
In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the 4 egg whites until they start to foam. Gradually add the sugar to the mixture and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.
Add the egg white mixture to the egg yolk mixture in 3 additions, gently folding between each addition until completely combined.
In a medium, nonstick skillet, over medium-low heat, spray the pan lightly with cooking spray.
Add 2 tablespoons of the batter to the pan and, leaving about 2 inches between each pancake, add 2 or 3 more pancakes to the pan.
Cover the pan, and let the pancakes cook for 1 ½ to 2 minutes, or until the batter is set and only slightly jiggles.
Top each pancake with another heaping tablespoon of batter.
Add a spoonful of water to the edges of the pan to steam the pancakes. Note: The water should just start to bubble. If it’s sizzling and popping, reduce the heat.
Cover the pan, and let the pancakes steam for 1 to 1 ½ minutes, or until the batter is set.
Top each pancake with another heaping tablespoon of batter. Add a spoonful of water to the edges of the pan. Cover and steam for about 1 minute until the third spoonful of batter is set.
Flip the pancakes. Add another spoonful of water and cover. Steam pancakes for 2 more minutes or until pancakes are firm but lightly bounce back when pressure is applied.
Repeat steps 6 through 12 until all of the pancakes are cooked.
Top the hot pancakes with whipped cream and strawberries — or your favorite toppings — and serve immediately.