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My wife's diet breakfast includes a pancake made only with:

  • one egg;
  • one spoonful of oat flour.

I also add two spoonful of water. I have tried different procedures to make it the best possible.

The best, so far, is to combine the yolk with the sifted oat flour and the water in one cup, whip the egg white with the planetary mixer for five minutes and finally mix all together. I cook the pancake on the electric crepe maker at 75% power, covered, until the top starts to dry, which takes about 10 minutes, then I turn it on the other side and cook for a couple of minutes.

It is still not satisfactory: if I cook it less, it deflates; if I keep it more, it is no longer soft. Maybe I should cook faster, but in this case the bottom burns and the top and the center remain too moist, flattening completely when I turn it. Using less water seemed to have a harder result. I still have to find the sweet spot.

I made at least 30-40 pancakes until now, but since the "search space" is so big, I need some directions: for example maybe when I used less water I made some other mistake, and dismissed an otherwise good idea.

Is the egg enough to keep the structure once the air cools down, or the missing sugar or gluten would have a role in it, so their absence is important, so I have to add some?

Maybe should I try to cook it in the oven?

I know the starting temperature of eggs has a role in whipping, but can it make the pancake deflating?

As it inflates correctly as is, would baking powder help? How much should I use?

Any advice would be appreciated.

P.S.: my wife is lactose intolerant, so I cannot add milk.

P.P.S.: excuse me for my English, it's the first time I write about cooking and I'm almost sure some words will be wrong: I would also appreciate corrections of them.

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    10 minutes seems an awfully long time to cook on the first side of a pancake. Normally, you want to flip pancakes before any gas in the batter starts to bubble out the top, but you say this causes the center to remain "too moist." A few questions: What are the proportions of ingredients in your recipe? (You might consider adding the recipe to your question.) Is the oatmeal precooked? Is it whole oats or instant? If the oatmeal is not precooked, do you let the batter sit for a while to hydrate the oats at all? – Athanasius Nov 30 '19 at 14:14
  • Yes, it's a very long time, but the heat is low. Since there is no baking powder, there are no gas bubbles, the air is incomporated in the egg white during the whipping. I can add powder if it can help. The recipe in the diet is just one egg, one tablespoon of oat flour, to which I add two tablespoons of water; I'll edit the question so it will be clearer. As for "oatmeal", I'm sorry it's a translation issue: it's oat flour. Thank you for your comment. – neclepsio Nov 30 '19 at 14:44
  • I actually was referring to the gas bubbles you whipped into the eggs; they should expand while cooking (from the heat) and provide some lightness, and (depending on how much air is in the batter) they could perhaps begin to move upward in the batter just as those from baking powder. I was curious as to whether that might be happening or not. Thanks for the clarification; I'll post some further thoughts in a bit. – Athanasius Nov 30 '19 at 18:48
  • Yes, I can see them appearing and popping on the top surface, so I think they move upward from within as you say. – neclepsio Nov 30 '19 at 19:07
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I've never made pancakes with this exact kind of recipe before (though I have made some that were similar, with eggs, no other leavening, etc.). My limited experience with similar recipes is that I ended up with a rather spongy result, not really a "light" pancake. Thus, it might not be possible to get a very light result without modifying the recipe a bit.

Nevertheless, here are a few thoughts:

Is the egg enough to keep the structure once the air cools down, or the missing sugar or gluten would have a role in it, so their absence is important, so I have to add some?

I don't think you're going to be able to get a very light textured pancake just using eggs, oat flour, and water. Even when whipping the whites, at best you'll get something with the texture of a souffle omelet (that is, an omelet made by whipping the egg whites separately first), but it will be weighed down a bit by the oat flour.

Eggs can provide structure, but my guess is that the fine bubbles in the egg whites are simply not providing enough lift, probably because they aren't being trapped sufficiently in the structure of the pancake. Yes, gluten and/or sugar could help reinforce the structure (as in angel food cake, for example), but I'd try leavening first.

Maybe should I try to cook it in the oven?

You could try this. Puffy pancakes, puffy omelets, souffles, etc. can work better when made in the oven. The bubbles have more time to expand as the batter bakes, and you don't have to do a flip, which may squash the structure.

I know the starting temperature of eggs has a role in whipping, but can it make the pancake deflating?

I doubt that's a significant issue here. If you're whipping up the egg whites well, you will have incorporated a significant amount of air. Having the eggs not too cold may help with that a bit, but there's only so much the egg whites can do. Once they are mixed with yolks and oats, they will be weighed down a bit.

As it inflates correctly as is, would baking powder help? How much should I use?

If the problem you are having is that it seems to rise properly but then deflates when flipped, baking powder could indeed help. "Normal" pancakes (with flour, etc.) tend to have an excess amount of baking powder in their batter to produce excess air. Baking powder could continue to produce gas as the second side cooks and keep lifting the batter up. I would start with a very small amount -- you'd probably only need a 1-2 teaspoons for a cup of oat flour, so if you're only using two tablespoons of flour, perhaps start with 1/8 teaspoon and see if it makes a difference. If not, try 1/4 teaspoon or something in between.

In comments, you also mention that bubbles are appearing and popping on the surface -- keep in mind that you don't want to wait until a significant number of them pop before flipping, or you will lose the lift provided by the existing air bubbles from the egg whites. I'd try to adjust that first -- usually, taking so long to cook pancakes will cause too much gas to bubble out before they are flipped.

But since you've already tried cooking them faster and have not seen better results, I'd recommend trying the oven baking technique or try adding a tiny bit of baking powder and see if it makes a difference first. I know I haven't narrowed down your options much, but it's tough to figure out how to make these better without seeing exactly how they are already coming out and trying a few experiments.

Perhaps others have better ideas. Do let us know if you come up with something that works.

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  • Thanks to your suggestions I got a very nice result today. First, I tried adding baking powder and change cooking method to shorten the time. I add half dose of the batter for each pancake, cook for two minutes, then add the rest, cook for two minutes, then turn around and cook two minutes (dose is enough for two pancakes). The result was great. I also tried the method without leavening and didn't work. – neclepsio Dec 1 '19 at 11:40
  • @neclepsio - glad to hear you found a solution. I suspected the baking powder would help, but it's good to hear a confirmation. – Athanasius Dec 1 '19 at 17:26

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