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Pancakes and waffles may seem quite similar at first, though there are quite a few differences between the two breakfast staples. The thing that unites them, though, is the fact that they both result in a tasty, hot breakfast that people are sure to adore whenever they eat it.
They’re both great ways to please a crowd of hungry stomachs, as well as being versatile ways to appeal to savory- or sweet-toothed people.
In this article, we’re going to talk about pancakes and waffles. What makes them the same as one another, and how are they different? We’re sure that by the time we’re finished, we’ll all have learned a little something. Without further ado, let’s talk about these breakfast staples!
Is Waffle Mix and Pancake Mix The Same?
No, these two types of breakfasts are actually different right down to the process of making the batter that you’ll cook.
At the most basic level, a pancake is typically relatively thin, as well as being fluffy and spongy. You can typically press down on the surface of a pancake and expect it to spring back into shape when your finger is removed.
By comparison, waffles are much thicker, and their surface is typically very crispy, too. Pressing a finger into the surface of a waffle, for example, would mean that the outermost layer of the waffle has been damaged – it likely wouldn’t spring back into shape.
The two types of batter used for pancakes and waffles are also quite different. For example, pancake batter is usually primarily made from water or milk. A small amount of flour and sugar may be mixed into that in order to achieve a certain consistency, but the batter will still be quite wet indeed.
Waffle batter, however, is typically made from flour that has been mixed with eggs, sugar, and butter. While these other ingredients are wet ingredients, they aren’t as thin and runny as milk or water. The end result, therefore, is a batter that’s quite thick – to the point that it is usually ladled into a waffle iron rather than being poured as one would with pancake batter.
It’s also worth pointing out, here, that eggs are an integral part of the difference between the two foods. In a pancake, the structure is typically made through the quick cooking of a thin piece of dough. By comparison, the structure of waffles relies quite heavily on eggs. As the eggs cook, they before firmer, leading to a structure that can support itself quite well.
What’s the Difference Between Pancake and Waffle?
At first glance, the difference between the two might seem simple – one has a square pattern, and the other doesn’t. However, things often go deeper than that. We’re going to break everything down here and talk about precisely what characteristics make waffles and pancakes different.
There are typically quite a few differences between the mixes used to make pancakes and waffles. These differences generally are the egg and dairy elements of the recipes, and there’s a reason for that.
Typically, a waffle recipe will have more eggs in it than a comparably sized pancake recipe. The reason for this is that when the white of the egg is well-distributed through the batter, it will cook to become firm and stiff. This firmness allows for a more significant structure throughout the bake. In waffles, the structure is important – they are typically quite toothsome and stand up well to toppings.
In pancakes, though, the structure is less important since they’re so flat. Instead, the leavening (typically baking powder) will allow them to rise directly upwards, leading to a pancake that is fat while also being flat and relatively unstructured.
Pancake recipes generally have more milk or water in them in terms of the overall proportion of the food being made. This is because a pancake batter must be pretty thin and runny in order to make sure it spreads well through the pan before the base becomes firm, preventing further spread in the pan.
The difference in batter between the two dishes is quite simple – pancake batter is thin, while waffle batter is thick.
This difference is because it is desirable for pancake batter to spread in the pan until it nearly reaches the edge. This large surface area and low volume allow it to cook quickly, leading to a thin but perfectly cooked dessert.
Conversely, waffle batter typically must be portioned out with a ladle, as it would be too thick to pour properly. It is usually added to the center of the waffle iron, and the closing of the implement allows for the batter to spread well.
The look of waffles and pancakes, aside from the noticeable difference in shape, is quite disparate.
The difference that we typically see is that the surface of a waffle generally is dryer and crispier, while the surface of a pancake is soft and spongy. This is because waffles are cooked at a higher heat for a shorter amount of time (typically), so the finished product has a crispy outer layer.
This is a relatively simple one. Both recipes need to kind of mixing bowl or jug, as well as an assortment of implements to mix and measure all of the ingredients.
The difference comes during the cooking phase. A waffle is cooked on a waffle iron – a type of pan or appliance which typically opens, with the cooking surface being internal. The grid-shaped inner region is where the batter is added before the appliance is closed, and heat is applied to each external side in turn. After a short while, the waffle is cooked.
Conversely, pancake batter is added directly to an oiled frying pan or skillet, where the batter spreads into a large circle and then begins to cook.
The cook time is typically similar enough that you might not notice a difference. However, if you were looking for one, you might spot that pancakes are usually cooked for a more extended amount of time than waffles, albeit over a lower heat. This is to ensure that the pancake is cooked through slowly, while a waffle must be cooked on the outside first to ensure it’s perfectly crispy.
The taste of each of these meals depends upon what batter is used to make them. We would suggest, though, that because waffles are cooked at a higher temperature, they typically have a crispier outer shell. This crispy outer shell has a high proportion of caramelized sugar, which means that waffles might taste a little more caramelly than pancakes.
There isn’t too much of a difference between waffles and pancakes. Waffles have around 220kcal per serving, while pancakes have around 250kcal. Realistically, the calories of the toppings that you use have more of an impact than the batter itself.
Pros and Cons – Waffles vs Pancakes
This is a tricky thing to judge, but we would say that waffles probably have a slightly better flavor profile than pancakes. We’d say this because pancakes have a milk-based batter, which typically doesn’t have that much flavor. By comparison, waffles are cooked such that their outer surface is a little caramelized – that’s a flavor to die for!
This is one that we immediately give to waffles – there are just more options there! For example, there are American waffles, Belgian waffles, potato waffles, pizzelle, and even more! That’s hard to compete with.
Aside from American pancakes, the only other option we can think of is the European crepe. While that’s often served similarly to a pancake, they’re really quite different. Crepes are extremely thin and almost flavorless, used to absorb surrounding flavors more than an American pancake is.
This is a simple one, though it’s still a little frustrating. Waffles and pancakes are about as versatile as one another. It’s easy to imagine either one of them being served with chopped banana and ice cream, while it’s also easy to imagine either of them being served with bacon and eggs.
This is a tricky one. We would suggest that waffles are probably a little more hassle than pancakes, typically because people use their waffle irons less than they use their frying pans. Therefore, with less practice, the cooking process may be trickier.
The reality is, though, that the dough-making process is the most hassle-laden part of things. We would suggest that they’re probably about as tough as one another: the batters are really quite similar when compared to other baked goods.
Can I Use Pancake Mix to Make Belgian Waffles?
Interestingly, no! The thing that makes waffles Belgian is the presence of tiny pieces of beaten egg throughout the batter. During cooking, this egg becomes similar to a very soft meringue within the dough of the waffle, leading to an exciting flavor and texture.
To make that happen, the whites of the eggs must be beaten intensely first before being gently folded into the rest of the recipe. A pancake mix typically makes use of a whole egg added in one go and then beaten with the other ingredients. This means that basic pancake mix cannot be used to make Belgian waffles.
We hope that our article has helped to learn more about the differences between waffles, Belgian waffles, and pancakes. They’re each unique recipes which are perfect in their own right – they can be eaten with anything at any time!
Now that you’re properly armed with knowledge, we wish you the best of luck in your sweet treat endeavors!