wet into dry, or dry into wet?
I have several good pancake recipes, but have a question, because I can't keep them straight.
Some recipes call for the separately mixed dry ingredients to be added to the liquid ingredients. Equally as many recipes call for those liquid ingredients to be added to the dry ingredients (you know, "make a well", etc.)
Is there a basic rule of thumb I'm missing? Does it matter if I always mix the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients (which I find combines more easily), rather than trying to remember which ones call for liquid into dry, and which call for the dry into the wet.
I have a B&B, and make pancakes regularly for my guests, but am not always at my most alert at 6 a.m. This confusion doesn't help.
I think it's wet into dry, but if the way you make your pancakes produce good results, it's the right way.
Makes no difference.
Just make sure not to overbeat the batter. And If you have time, refrigerate the batter for 30 minutes before you start cooking the pancakes.
The baker's "rule of thumb" that you ask about is "wet into dry" which, oddly enough, becomes dry into wet. Here's how that works. When preparing a dough by hand it's important to get hydration as even as possible. Flour is weighed and placed on a board and a well is developed in the center of the flour mass. Liquid ingredients are poured into the well and flour is gradually pulled into the liquid until the hydration is adequate. If that method is used in a bowl, a spoon is used to gradually pull the flour into the liquid. The wet into dry method also helps when developing a batter when you want to minimize the amount of agitation (e.g. cake batter) to avoid too much gluten development. Dry into wet tends to create clumps; not a good thing in a cake batter.
Exception; pancake and waffle batter. While you don't want clumps of raw flour in your pancake or waffle batter, a few bits of unmixed flour can be tolerated. That's particularly true if you follow the golden rule of allowing the batter to rest about 30 minutes before cooking. So either method works fine for those types of batters. As in other batter mixes where you want to avoid gluten development from over mixing, you don't want to over mix pancake and waffle batter either.
Agreed, wet into dry, because of the clumps. Flour clumps occur when the starch on the outside of a bit of flour absorbs liquid and swells. This forms a protective coating that keeps the center dry and prevents the flour ball from being easily broken up. Flour clumps are not delicious, avoid!
Since Day 1, I've always done wet into dry . . . until I read the current issue of Cook's Illustrated (September/October 2012). Here's what they found:
"With thick pancake batter, we got perfectly acceptable results either way. But for baked goods made from drier doughs, like yeast breads, biscuits, scones, quick breads, and muffins, the order was crucial. When we added the wet ingredients to the dry ones, we got pockets of flour and a messy, crusted mixing bowl. Mixing the dry ingredients into the wet was far more successful. Following this order made for a more supple dough that was easier to combine thoroughly without overmixing (which can overdevelop gluten), so it turned out more delicate, finely textured results. It also made cleanup easier."
That is very interesting. My results have been just the opposite so I wonder what technique they're using. Giving it some thought, it occurs to me that if they're adding the dry to wet in stages rather than a single step the dry to wet might come out OK. I'll have to experiment with using the dry to wet in stages routine and see how that works. Dry to wet in one fell swoop has never worked well at all for my kitchen.
Incidentally, Lynn, when I noted the differences in types of batter in that earlier post I used cake batter as an example. That's probably not a good example because so many cake batter recipes call for beating the batter for a couple of minutes. Beating is, IMO, to be avoided when using AP flour but cake flour has less protein so the risk of a high degree of gluten development is far less significant.
A better example might have been light airy muffins.