Make Extra-Golden-Brown Pancakes with This Secret Ingredient
Don't fear diastatic malt powder
Golden, brown, delicious: the three most important words in breakfast cookery, specifically when you're making pancakes. Fluffiness and flavor are paramount, but nothing beckons pats of butter and streams of syrup like perfectly golden brown pancakes. But how do we achieve that desired exterior when you're making pancakes? Let's look at what causes browning in the first place. Maillard browning (as opposed to caramelization) happens when a protein plus a reducing sugar is introduced to heat. In pancakes, we have all the elements in play already with milk, eggs, and flour. So how do we take it a step further? With pH!
pH is the scale on which a food's acidity and alkalinity are measured, and the adjustment of the pH of food is our ticket to golden, brown, and delicious. Raising the pH in food has been known to accelerate the maillard reaction significantly. If you think this is all just sciencey mumbo-jumbo, well, you're wrong. Take pretzels, for example. They have as even a golden brown crust as you could ever hope for, and it's because of their raised pH. Pretzels are traditionally dipped in a high-pH lye solution that produces their golden hue.
Adding lye to pancakes would help make them golden brown, sure. But they would taste awful. Adding something called diastatic malt powder increases pH while also adding an enzyme called amylase that aids in fluffiness. The malt powder won't give off a noticeable flavor. Win win.