Japanese Vanilla Pancakes (Hotcakes)

Thick soft vanilla pancakes. These popular pancakes are also known as Japanese hotcakes. The pancakes can be eaten as-is with maple syrup and butter, but can also be served with a variety of sweet toppings.

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In Shibuya, we came across these marvelous thick pancakes topped with all kinds of sweet goodness (we had matcha and vanilla custard). Just looking at the picture on the menu, I knew I had to make my own version at home. I mean, who doesn’t want thick, carby pancakes at the comfort of home? I do. So inspired by my trip to Japan, I wrote a recipe for Japanese Pancakes a.k.a. Hotcakes. These pancakes are thick and very fluffy. I made mine a tad smaller than the ones I had in Japan for two reasons:

  1. Vacation is over and I really should indulge a little bit less (but still indulge ofcourse). And yes, let’s pretend I actually stopped eating after 1 small hotcake.
  2. I didn’t have a mold the size of the pancakes I had in Tokyo.

If above reasons don’t apply to you, by all means make bigger pancakes. I can only be jealous.

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To make the pancakes thick and fluffy, I tested a couple of different leaveners: baking powder, baking soda and a combination of the two. I also tried to combine each option with sour cream or vinegar, because the acidity of these ingredients help the baking powder to create extra airbubbles (read: extra fluffyness) in your pancakes. Results?

  • The sour cream batter was very light, but was so thick that it took ages to properly cook the pancakes without burning the bottom.
  • Baking soda didn’t give the tall pancakes I wanted.

Baking powder with vinegar resulted in the same fluffy pancakes as the sour cream batter but these took only 8 min per side to cook. Succes!

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Japanese Vanilla Pancakes (Hotcakes)
Yields 5
Thick soft vanilla pancakes. These popular pancakes are also known as Japanese hotcakes. The pancakes can be eaten as-is with maple syrup and butter, but can also be served with a variety of sweet toppings.
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Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
16 min
Total Time
18 min
Prep Time
2 min
Cook Time
16 min
Total Time
18 min
Ingredients
  1. 110 mL skim milk
  2. 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  3. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  4. 100 g cake flour (or all-purpose flour)
  5. ¾ tsp baking powder
  6. ¼ tsp salt
  7. 40 g granulated sugar
  8. 1 egg, lightly beaten
Instructions
  1. Line a stainless steel cooking ring with baking paper (or multiple if you have them). Set aside.
  2. In a cup or small bowl, mix the milk, vinegar and vanilla. Set aside. It should look curdled after a while.
  3. In a bowl, sift the flour and baking powder.
  4. Add the salt and sugar. Mix.
  5. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the egg and milk mixture.
  6. Mix until you get a batter. The batter might be slightly lumpy.
  7. Heat a non-stick pan on medium-low heat and place the prepared cooking ring(s) in the pan.
  8. Fill the cooking ring about ¾ with the batter and cover the pan with a lid.
  9. Cook the pancake about 8 minutes* or until the batter is well bubbled on the surface.
  10. Flip the pancake over and cook for another 8 minutes. It's okay if you spill a bit of batter.
  11. Remove pancake from cooking ring (WATCH OUT! HOT!) and repeat steps for remaining batter.
  12. Serve pancakes hot with desired toppings.
Notes
  1. *Time might vary depending on size of cooking ring/pancake.
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4 thoughts on “Japanese Vanilla Pancakes (Hotcakes)

  1. I think I had one from the supermarket in Japan, though it wasn’t as high (?) as yours (it was just fluffy and flat). Now I totally regret not having a proper one, but I forgot these existed! Yours look amazing though, making me hungry as always ^^

    1. Thanks, Olivia! This one’s a bit different from the supermarket. I think you mean the red bean pancakes? The thick pancakes were only sold at “restaurants” /cafés. You should really try it. SO good! Ps don’t regret it: they were quite expensive (€8 for one!!) especially compared to homemade.

  2. Do you have to use skim milk? What’s a substitute, if you don’t? Also what if you don’t have white vinegar?

    1. You can use any milk with vinegar. Milk+vinegar can also be substituted with buttermilk (karnemelk). If you don’t have buttermilk or vinegar you can use milk+lemon juice. Hope this helps!

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