The Firm vs. Floppy Question

Why can you roll up some kinds of pancakes but not others?

That’s exactly the kind of question that I love, love, love reader Tori. Indeed, why are some pancakes thin and roll-able while others are fluffy and crumbly? Aren’t they made of the same things?

It’s true, they are made of mostly the same stuff: eggs, milk, flour and butter (or oil). The key difference is that pancakes of the more rigid, less roll-able variety usually have some sort of leavening in them, either yeast or chemicals like baking powder. So what difference does that make?

Consider what leavening does: it “lightens” flour-and-water pastes by introducing air bubbles into them — and it’s those bubbles that essentially “inflate” the pancake, increasing its rigidity. Think about an air mattress: how well one of those things rolls up when its inflated versus when it’s deflated. Not very well. The same principle applies with pancakes, only instead of a bicycle pump, you’re using baking powder or yeast to do the job. Excellent question, Tori! Thanks again!

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