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Japanese Soufflé Pancakes

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japanese souffle pancakes

Japanese soufflé pancakes are an undoubtedly tough breakfast treat to master but with a combination of technique, zen-like patience and a dash of luck, you’ll be snacking on these pillowy confections in no time. 

Do I need baking powder?

The method for making the batter for a perfectly light and fluffy soufflé pancake is similar to that of any regular 'ole soufflé. Egg yolks and whites go their separate ways, the yolks becoming the base for the flavor and fat and the whites becoming the lighter-than-air meringue that is folded into the base and gently steamed. Soufflé pancakes should be no different! While some recipes do call for baking powder to achieve and sustain the trademark height of a soufflé pancake, properly whipped egg whites are the real secret weapon. When whipping your egg whites, be patient. The final texture of the meringue before folding into the egg yolks should resemble that of a marshmallow (although, it will not be as sweet). If you are not interested in the potential trial and error that can come with properly whipped meringue, add ½ tsp of baking powder to your flour. 

Rings or no rings? 

While soufflé pancakes are traditionally made free-form, piling the airy batter onto itself straight onto the griddle, ring molds are ideal for achieving a uniform look. Be sure to spray the inside of the molds or tape a strip of greased parchment paper to the inside. When flipping the pancakes in rings, slide a thin, flexible (preferably silicone, to avoid slippage) spatula underneath the pancake while securing the top with a second spatula. If some of the batter overflows from the ring mold while flipping, finish cooking then trim it from the pancake after removing the mold. A 3- to 3½-inch ring is perfect for this recipe.

Topping Ideas

Soufflé pancakes can be topped with anything you would add to your favorite American-style pancakes, French toast, waffles, etc. Fresh fruit, whipped cream, and powdered sugar are the most traditional options, but feel free to get creative with your favorite chocolatey (melted Nutella), crunchy (candied nuts), creamy (sweetened, whipped mascarpone) combinations! 

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Yields: 2 servings
Prep Time: 0 hours 20 mins
Total Time: 0 hours 40 mins

large egg yolks

2 tbsp.


1/2 tsp.

almond extract


lemon, zested

1/4 c.

all-purpose flour, sifted

1/4 tsp.

kosher salt


large egg whites

1/4 tsp.

cream of tartar

1/2 tsp.

lemon juice

3 1/2 tbsp.

powdered sugar

Neutral oil (for greasing)

2 tbsp.


Softened butter

Agave or maple syrup 

  1. In a mixing bowl, by hand, whisk together egg yolks, milk, almond extract, and lemon zest. Add the flour and salt and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer using a whisk attachment, combine egg whites and lemon juice. Beat on medium high speed until frothy then sprinkle in cream of tartar with the mixer running. When egg whites have become more frothy than liquidy, scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure all cream of tartar is incorporated. Return whisk to medium high speed and very gradually add powdered sugar to the egg whites, continuing to whip until the meringue reaches a stiff peak, about 10 minutes. (Since this recipe doesn’t use baking powder, this step is super important! Be patient and let the meringue stiffen until it resembles the texture of a marshmallow.)
  3. While the meringue whips, prep 4 ring molds by wiping the insides with neutral oil. Place the ring molds in a large nonstick skillet (with a lid) over low heat. Lightly grease the pan with a neutral oil, making sure to wipe away excess oil. For an electric griddle, the lowest setting should suffice, for a gas stove, medium low. The pan should be warm enough to help the bottoms of the pancakes set but not hot enough to immediately evaporate water. 
  4. Add ⅓ of the meringue into the egg yolk base and mix until incorporated. Add the remaining meringue to the batter and gently fold the meringue into the batter until just incorporated and no more streaks are visible. 
  5. Once the pan is warm, scoop batter into greased ring molds to form 4 even mounds. The batter should be near the top, but be sure not to overfill the ring because it will expand.
  6. Add 1 tablespoon of water around the pan and cover with lid. Let the pancakes cook, undisturbed for about 8 minutes until the water has evaporated and the bottom of the pancakes have turned a light golden brown.
  7. Carefully flip the pancakes (see note above) in their rings and add another tablespoon of water to the pan. Cover the pan and cook the pancakes for another 5 to 6 minutes. Once fully cooked, gently remove the ring mold from each pancake using a pair of silicone tongs. If pancakes don’t release cleanly, gently slide a butter knife around the edge of the mold and gently jiggle the mold until the pancake comes loose. Once the pancakes are out of their molds, trim any extra with a butter knife.
  8. Serve the pancakes immediately, topped with softened butter and agave, if using. 
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