I'm not talking about ingredient differences like adding blueberries or chocolate chips, or even buttermilk or cooked pumpkin to the batter ...

How many fundamentally different regional types of 'pancake' are there? Either stuff called a 'pancake' or 'pan cake' in English, or where the literal translation to English is 'pan cake', even if it's qualified in some way (eg, a 'potato pancake')

(I'm not interested solely in wheat batter based pancakes ... I'm actually interested in finding items that are the furthest away from American pancakes, but that some group would still call a 'pancake')

update : oddly enough, this is indirectly a followup to my question on overpressurizing whipped cream. It was for a contest at my place of work called "Your Science as Food", and well, I won, so I'm trying to come up with a follow-up for next year. I've done the heliophysics theme for the last two years, by "my science" is actually information science, so I was thinking about having an exhibit with lots of 'pancake' items, and having a little survey of 'is it a pancake?' similar to this But Is It a Sandwich? survey, and want to find things that people will have to think about for a while if it's a 'pancake' or not.

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    Not to be picky, but if you want this question to be answerable, you need a better defination of pancake. Do you mean any bready thing thats cooked in a pan like corn pone? Or do you mean any quick bread that shares the same traits of pancakes but might be cooked in a muffin tin? or even foods that fill the same role as the pancake in one form or another like tortitas? – sarge_smith Mar 14 '11 at 3:49
  • @sarge_smith : I didn't want to give too much, as I don't want to taint the responses, but stuff like dutch pannenkoeken (more crepe like) or german pfannkuchen (more popover like), where the similarity is in name only. I'm not looking for similarity to american pancakes (eg. dutch poffertjes, southern US hoecakes/northeast US jonnycakes) or necessarily cooking technique (south american tortillas) – Joe Mar 14 '11 at 4:04
  • And this is a case where telling why you are interested might be useful. If you're writing a book on 1000 and 1 ways to make bread in a fry pan that would help with the answer. Since some of the earliest (ancestral) cooked dishes were flat breads cooked on heated rocks, you have a lot of choices. Just check the flour types in an Indian grocery...they can all be used for making different types of flat breads. And you're going to need to make a decision on leavening. Do you only include non-yeast pancakes? – Doug Johnson-Cookloose Mar 14 '11 at 4:05
  • @joe gotcha, knew it wasn't going to be the version of that question I could answer. :) – sarge_smith Mar 14 '11 at 4:14
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    Your question seems to have more to do with linguistics than food. The reason that the Dutch and German words are similar to English is because English has Germanic roots. The other issue is that translation is hugely subjective so a dish that one person might translate into English as some sort of "pancake", another would translate differently, or use an anglicized version of the original word. – Allison Mar 14 '11 at 6:33

I'm not going to accept this as an answer, but as Community has decided to give it a nudge.

I wrote up my little 'experiment' after I did it.

Although culinarily, a pancake would be something from a batter that is self-leveling, there seem to be a few other categories that many people may not consider 'pancakes' based on their upbringing :

  1. Items made from shredded vegetables, with starch or an egg as a binder : latkes (Jewish; aka 'potato pancakes'), okonomiyaki (Japan), jeon (Korea), kartoffelpuffer (Germany)

  2. Dough that is rolled out very thin and then cooked on a griddle or in a pan: roti (India), some varieties of bing (China, eg. 'scallion pancakes' (cong you bing) and 'mandarin pancakes' (bao bing)). Note that this would also include South American tortillas and many flatbreads. (although not classic preparations of naan (India) which is made in a tandoor)

  3. Batter or gruel that is spread out, rather than self-leveling: crêpes (France), dosa (India), matafan (France), some styles of jonnycakes (USA), some styles of hoecakes (USA)

For the self-leveling batter-based pancakes, we can still divide them up into a few categories, as not everyone considered all of them pancakes:

  1. large, thin, and unleavened: pancakes (England), pannekoeken (Netherlands), pannkakor (Sweden), pannekaken (Norway), pfannkuchen (Germany)

  2. Leavened, cooked in a depression (not a flat griddle or pan), may be rotated during cooking: poffertjes (Netherlands), æbleskiver (Denmark), takoyaki (Japan)

  3. Unleavened (other than whipped air & steam) cooked in a vessel in the oven: Dutch babies (USA), pannukakku (Finland), Yorkshire pudding (England). May include other popovers.

  4. Leavened, cooked on a pan or griddle: drop scone (UK), pancakes (USA; aka flapjacks, griddlecakes), pancakes (Scotland; aka 'Scotch pancake'), pikelet (Australia), some styles of jonnycakes (USA), some styles of hoecakes (USA)

I'm not sure how to classify the following:

  • injera (Ethiopia); might be self-leveling, but is poured in a spiral (so either pancake variety 4 or non-pancake variety 3). Also not flipped, which is abnormal for griddle-cooked pancakes.
  • kanom krok (Thailand); cooked in a depression like pancake variety 3, but assembled like a sandwich rather than being individually flipped.
  • kaiserschmarrn (Austria); either mixed during cooking or cut up after making a pancake of variety 4.
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    When I have more time I should probably go back and classify the other items people mentioned -- druze pitta, blini (wheat & fagopyrum), blintz, malawach, ployes, flädle, palatschinkeni, oladi, katmi, and maybe en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Pancakes – Joe Aug 6 '16 at 12:19
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    I don't know what sources you used, but I have never encountered an oven-baked Pfannkuchen in Germany. The word tends to be used for a slightly thicker crêpe mostly (synonymous to Austrian German Palatschinken), and also covers a few other types as a generic term. So while it is conceivable that the variety you mean will be called Pfannkuchen, it won't be the first one that comes to mind for a German when they hear the word. – rumtscho Aug 23 '16 at 6:31
  • @rumtscho : The style that I'm referring to is often called a 'German pancake', 'Dutch pancake' or 'Dutch baby' in the US, ('Dutch' is in the US is typically 'Deutsche' (German) not from the Netherlands (eg, 'Pennsylvania Dutch')). See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_baby_pancake . There was a German who attended my talk on polysemy, and agreed on my pancake classification ... so maybe there's a region of Germany that makes that style? – Joe Aug 23 '16 at 18:15
  • Even if the dish is made somewhere in Germany, I would be highly surprised if you tell a German person "Pfannkuchen" and the person thinks of this one and not of the thick crepe (if from Western Germany) or of the donut (if from Eastern Germany). I know that the word Dutch is used to refer to things thought to be German, but in reality some of them (like the Dutch oven) are not really popular in Germany. I am discussing this on German.SE chat now, will update if more information surfaces. – rumtscho Aug 23 '16 at 20:09
  • @rumtscho : okay ... I moved it, and put "Dutch babies" where it had been. But this was part of the point of my doing this -- just because people are using the same word doesn't mean they're talking about the same thing. And I think 'Dutch Oven' is one of the few things that might actually be from the Netherlands (braadpan) and not Germany, as there was Dutch influence in early US history (both the Pilgrims in New England who fled to the Netherlands before coming to the US, and the colony of New Amsterdam (today New York)) – Joe Aug 24 '16 at 11:29

I can think of several "bread"-like dishes that are made in a pan. Since they're all from cultures where I don't speak the language, I can't say for the translation of the name.

  • Ethiopian Injera - This is a bread made from wheat flour and teff flour with water, left out for three days to rise (think sourdough without a starter) and then cooked in a pan. It's quite sour, but has exactly the consistency of a fluffy pancake. This is the main staple of Ethiopian diet, served with a number of different "sauces".
  • Druze Pitta - This is a little different from a regular Pitta, as it doesn't have a pocket, and isn't baked so much as done on the top of a convex pan. The idea is similar to a flour tortilla, but the flavour is different.
  • Yemeni / Israeli Malawach - This is a pastry similar to filo or puff pastry, but with more margarine. It is then fried in a pan and served hot with crushed tomatoes and a hard-boiled egg on the side.
  • French Toast (pain perdu) - I'm not sure if this qualifies, but it is a slice of bread (already baked) drenched in egg and then fried in a pan.

I can't think of anything else right now, but I'm sure there are plenty more.

  • Plus crepes, blintzes, blinis, and more I'm probably forgetting. – justkt Mar 14 '11 at 14:09
  • I can add some unusual ones to the list: Flädle (in soup), palatschinken (unleavened), wheat blini, fagopyrum blini, oladi, katmi (batter is made with yoghurt instead of milk) and I think that some Germans consider Kaiserschmarrn to be a pancake too, although it is torn to pieces in the pan. And I've had a meringue-leavened pancake with grated apples in the batter, which didn't have a specific name, the cook called it "apple pancake". – rumtscho Mar 14 '11 at 23:51


  • Ployes (French-Canadian buckwheat pancakes)

and two not-so-sweet pancakes but oh so good:

  • Scallion pancakes (葱油饼 Chinese/Korean)
  • Latkes (potato pancakes)

It might take a linguist to really have a good answer there! I don't really have any good answers but I see where you're going... the term 'pancake' is so vague it could quite easily apply to many things that have not much in common.

I haven't looked through this but it might be worth a look: Pancakes (Wikipedia).

Assuming they'll mostly be the type of pancake you're not after, but there might be some interesting exceptions.


A German oddity in language:
In the city of Berlin, "Berliner" are called "Pfannkuchen".
In the rest of Germany, a "Pfannkuchen" is actually a pancake.

So, in a way, the German "Berliner" may be quiet far from a Pancake while still being called one. The Berliner itself is closer to a doughnut, really: Berliner


There is a pancake which seems to be missing here still: the Breton galette, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galette. It differs from other buckweat pancakes by being cooked on much higher temperature - I was taught that if the dough doesn't throw bubbles before congealing, the pan is not hot enough.

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