Japanese Soufflé Pancakes Are A Uniquely Sweet Treat, But There's One Downside

You're in a quaint café in Harajuku and have ordered their specialty: Jiggly and soft Japanese soufflé pancakes. Before you, a plate of their infamous pancakes arrives, and they are fluffy and cloud-like. Unlike traditional pancakes that rely on baking powder for chemical leavening, Japanese soufflé pancakes achieve their remarkable height and pillowy finish through meticulously whipped egg whites, creating a texture that's airy and rich, akin to Japanese cheesecakes. Each bite has a melt-in-your-mouth sensation, like eating a marshmallow.

While Japanese soufflé pancakes are a novel dish, there's one downside: They deflate quickly. The same airiness from whipped egg whites that gives these pancakes their charm also makes them prone to deflating. Why? Well, air escapes, like it does with untied balloons. One key when making these at home is to move quickly, from skillet or frying pan to serving plate. Enjoy immediately, on their own, or dusted with powdered sugar. A drizzle of maple syrup also works and we love them covered with whipped cream, dusted with matcha powder, and topped with slices of fresh strawberries.

Another key to perfecting this dish at home is patience. These exquisite delights require low heat over stop top and light steaming in the covered skillet or pan. You often end up with burnt or deflated pancakes if you rush the cooking process.

Crafting the perfect Japanese soufflé pancake

While rewarding, recreating Japanese soufflé pancakes at home can be challenging for novices. (Honestly, it's daunting, even for the pros!) We recommend Tasting Table recipe developer Jennine Bryant's soufflé pancakes recipe.

The process begins with separating the egg whites from the yolks. With the yolks, prepare a smooth batter with flour, sugar, milk, and a little baking powder, and set it aside. Then, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the beaten egg yolks into the yolk batter. Overmixing at this point would result in flat pancakes. Your final batter should be thick, creamy, and stable enough to hold shape in the pan, the cornerstone of these fluffy pancakes.

From there, set a lightly greased frying pan or skillet over low heat. Pipe or scoop the batter onto the pan, starting with a small amount and gradually building up. The goal is to create tall, stable pancakes as you layer more batter. Add a little water to the pan around the pancakes and cover with a lid. The purpose of the water is to steam the pancakes. A few minutes later, remove the lid and carefully flip the pancakes. Many people fail at this point. But if you succeed, you'll have fluffy and jiggly Japanese soufflé pancakes ready for enjoyment.

Just remember they will naturally deflate a little once removed from heat. There's no escaping this.