Every weekend is an opportunity for pancakes, and every pancake is an opportunity for wisdom. Push your pancake-making in new directions and you’ll learn that you can make pancakes in a sheet pan; you can add seltzer to the batter to make the pancakes fluffier; you can even make your pancakes savory and serve them for dinner.
But no matter how hard you push, one thing you’ll never do is turn a pancake into a waffle.
This is an important point, because there are two types of people in the world, and one of them will always choose the waffle over the pancake. They have a good reason: They want the crispiness of a good waffle. They’ll even take the slight chewiness of a mediocre waffle. But the airy nothingness of a good pancake (and the leaden nature of a bad pancake)? That is decidedly not of interest to them.
So on the rare occasion that there’s a recipe that both pancake and waffle people can agree on, it pays to take note. Such a recipe is tucked at the end of the pancake page in my friend Lukas Volger’s new cookbook, Start Simple. Actually, it’s not even a recipe—it’s more of a trick, which Volger dispatches in three sentences under the heading “Candy Your Pancakes”:
Working in batches, return the cooked pancakes to the hot skillet, and then pour maple syrup over them, however much you’d typically use at the table. The syrup will bubble and thicken slightly and cling to the crispy edges of the pancakes like a candy coating. It’s pretty great. I bypass additional butter at the table (since they’re cooked in butter), but I love to finish my maple-coated pancakes with a judicious pinch of flaky salt.
It’s obvious why a pancake guy like me would get excited by such a thing. (What’s better than a pancake? A candied pancake!) What’s fascinating is that my colleague Andrew Spena—a staunch waffle guy—gravitated to this, too. In fact, Andrew tried this trick at home before I did.
Well, of course he did—it’s all about texture. When the hot syrup stops bubbling, it settles onto the pancake, creating a coating that is sort of caramel-chewy in the center and candy-crispy on the edges. To Volger, that crispy edge is the point. When you simply pour syrup over a stack of pancakes, “it makes everything kind of soggy,” he says. Meanwhile, candying “preserves the texture of the pancake.”
A couple of tips for when you try this at home: aim the syrup at the center of the pancake and let it drizzle down into the pan. And be prepared to work fast: the syrup will bubble and start candying almost immediately. Finally, do not sleep on that sprinkle of flaky sea salt. Even for a texture fiend like Spena, the touch of salt was, he says, “the best part.”
Originally Appeared on Epicurious