If you’ve been on Pinterest recently, odds are you’ve come across stacks of emoji-level perfect Japanese pancakes as fluffy and enticing as an edible mattress. These pancakes, also known as “hottokēki,” or hotcakes, are made with a batter that typically includes some combination of whipped egg whites, baking soda, and self-rising flour—all of which puff up to create the loftiest breakfast you’ve ever sliced into. Japanese pancakes' incredible height are often encouraged by ladling batter into pastry rings placed on the griddle instead of pouring batter directly onto the pan. The rings encourage the batter to raise instead of spread (which science demands happen to batters including baking soda), making just two pancakes thicker than other multi-pancake stacks only hope to become.
To start off this tall breakfast, separate 3 eggs. Setting aside the whites, place 2 egg yolks into a small bowl (save that last yolk for an addition to scrambled eggs or a quiche later) and add ½ cup buttermilk and 3 tablespoons sugar. Whisk the yolk mixture until thick and creamy, about 3 minutes.
Using a hand beater or a clean whisk, whip the 3 egg whites and ½ teaspoon kosher salt until stiff peaks form.
Sift 1 ¼ cups self-rising flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder into the egg yolk mixture and mix until just moistened. Fold egg whites into the batter with a spatula until just incorporated (it’s okay if there are a few bits of unmixed egg white.)
Heat a nonstick pan or pancake griddle over medium heat. While you’re waiting for the pan to get warm, grab a few 3-inch metal pastry rings, or slap together a quick DIY project, an excellent hotcake trick discovered on the blog Chopstick Chronicles: Staple a wide strip cut from an empty milk carton to a strip of parchment paper.
Grease the metal or cardboard rings with cooking spray and place on the greased pan. Fill the rings about halfway with pancake batter. Cook until bubbles form on the pancake’s surface and the bottom is golden brown. Flip the pancake with a wide spatula in one swift movement. Keep in mind that your non-flipping hand may want to help, and if you’re not used to holding onto hot objects, you may want to put on an oven mitt. Continue to cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until the cake it cooked through.
Serve with fruit and maple syrup, or really go for it and top the hotcakes with a few scoops of vanilla ice cream, because you really should have ice cream at breakfast every now and then. Also try this recipe with smaller rings to make skewered pancakes, also known as “kushi pancake,”—a trend that is taking on-the-go eating to truly impressive levels.