Absolutely the first hotcake/pancake is the worst.
Typically, the pan has not reached an optimal temperature nor has the oil/butter that you use seeped into the pan to create a better cooking surface for the hotcake. An improperly heated and greased pan will lead to suboptimal pancake.
To cook the perfect first pancake (or as close to the second as possible), do the following:
- Heat the pan (375 F / 190 C)
- Coat the pan with oil (I use safflower - but can use canola)
- Let the oil get hot
- Wipe the oil from the pan (wipe the pan dry)
- Add a few more drops of oil
- Let the oil get hot again
- Wipe the oil
- Apply batter
This process will seal the surface of the pan (which is pocked) and create a truly flat surface for the hotcakes to cook on.
Additionally, you should let the batter sit (in its bowl) for 6 to 8 minutes so that it has time to mix the wet and dry ingredients more thoroughly. Make sure that your batter is at room temperature - or as close to it. You don't want the pan to lose heat while trying to bring cold batter up to temperature - this will give you a soggy pancake.