Chef's secret to perfect pancake batter

What's the secret to a perfect pancake? Is it the ratio of sugar to flour? How quickly you whisk the eggs? Or how soon you flip it over?

Whether you like your pancakes thin and crepey and drizzled with maple syrup, stacked to towering heights with a knob of butter melting down the side or filled with fruity flavours, there are as many tips and tricks to getting them right as there are ways of eating them.

Some suggest adding a little beer to the batter to add lightness, others recommend getting your pan searing hot before cooking the mixture, but Sean Cochran from Stu's Corner in Shellharbour says the best way is to just keep it simple.

MORE: Recipes from the Illawarra's top chefs

Pancakes are one of the most popular items on the cafe's breakfast menu. They use a recipe that's short and sweet and Cochran says getting the batter perfect is all about consistency.

"Dissolve the sugar in the eggs first while whisking and make sure all the lumps are out," he suggests.

He doesn't use a specific amount of liquid, preferring to add as much milk as necessary to each batch to get the right level of runniness.

Cochran does his pancakes a little differently to most chefs - rather than flipping them over during the cooking process, once one side is done the pancakes then go into an industrial toaster to cook the rest of the way through.

But if you're a flipper, Robert Angelov, co-owner and pancake maestro at Wollongong restaurant My Pantry, has a few tips to turning the Saturday-morning staple without the batter oozing all over the place.

"When the pancake starts bubbling, when about 70 per cent of the surface is covered in slow-popping bubbles and is still a little bit moist, that's when you flip it.

"Once you flip it, it needs only another 30, 45 seconds and then it's done.

"All the cooking is done on the first side."

Angelov's main tip is to avoid over-mixing the batter, as this leads to a pancake that is neither fluffy or delicate.

My Pantry uses two types of flour to achieve their pancakes' required fluffiness, and Angelov tries to let the batter rest for 30 minutes before he cooks it.

He recommends making one pancake at a time in a frying pan and getting the pan fairly hot before you begin, and taking it off the heat prior to adding a square of butter and the pancake mixture into the middle of the pan.

"Then don't touch it, the mix will fold out into the pan, then put it back on the heat."

Like anything, he says the key to the perfect pancake is just to keep practising with different amounts of milk in the batter.

"The more you make them, the better you'll get."

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