Rice cooker pancake

This is an internet-sensation type of a recipe. It’s a cooking hack. It may well be b*llocks. Basically, you put all of your ingredients into your rice cooker and – in theory at least – saunter back some time later to scarf down a giant, fluffy pancake.    

Ingredients

  • 260g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons of white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 350ml semi-skimmed milk
  • A small quantity of butter
  • A whisk or blender
  • And, obviously, one rice cooker

Instructions

The first step is to use your small quantity of butter to grease the inside of your rice cooker.

Add the rest of your ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Sieve in the flour and baking powder.

Then blend it all together. I used the Smeg hand blender, which is a 700 watt monster, so I had a smooth batter a few seconds later. We reviewed it and can say that it's a very good, albeit very expensive, hand blender. If you want to buy one, your best option is from AO.com, where it's £65. You can also buy it with a set of accessories that can be swapped with the main blending head. This will set you back about £129.95.

That bit was easy. However, this seems like an unnecessarily large volume of pancake mix for one pancake. Even a giant pancake.

The next step is to pour the batter into the rice cooker. The key bit of advice here is not to fill your rice cooker more than half way. Otherwise, the pancake will expand beyond the confines of your cooking vessel, like a nightmarish 1950s' style sci-fi blob, and probably ingest your entire family.

I used the Kitchen Perfected Lloytron Automatic (350W, 0.8l) Rice Cooker. It's a very simple, effective and – most importantly – inexpensive rice cooker that has never failed to make properly cooked rice. Can it handle pancakes? I felt a strong sense of foreboding.

Still, I switched it on. From what I can understand, having collated a lot of very vague recipes online, I should cook this mammoth pancake for 45 minutes. That, to my mind, has already broken the first law of pancakes: they should be quick to make.

If your rice cooker (like mine) doesn't have a timer, you're supposed to set it to cook and then let the warming function finish off the job. I set a timer on my phone and went to watch Rick & Morty. (This isn't part of the recipe: you can watch whatever you want. Read a book, even. Your entertainment choices shouldn't affect the cooking of your pancake.)

I returned after about 40 minutes had passed and, as was suggested, stuck a toothpick into the pancake-thing. If the toothpick comes out clean, your pancake is done and there is much rejoicing. The toothpick was covered in uncooked pancake batter, so I left it for another 10 minutes.

At last, it was ready. I had to run a plastic spatula around the edge to release it. Here it is.

Rice cooker pancake

I'm not exaggerating when I say this was one of the worst things I've ever tried to eat. It was almost Lovecraftian in its spongy, rubbery unpleasantness. 

Verdict

This was hideous. My guess is that it was overcooked and/or too thick but there is absolutely no incentive to try it again as ordinary pancakes are so much quicker to make. 

Don't do this to yourself. Whatever Instagram may tell you, rice cookers are for cooking rice.    

Vegan banana pancakes

There are a number of different ways to make vegan pancakes. Basically, you either leave out the eggs or use an egg substitute. I chose this recipe because the egg substitute is a banana, and I know what a banana is.

Other potential substitutes included a 'flax egg'. The instructions said: "If you've never heard of a flax egg, don't worry ... It's just a mix of ground flaxseed meal with hot water". But I was worried. That sentence was meaningless to me and I moved on.

Unsweetened applesauce was another contender. While I understand what that is conceptually, I associate it with baby food and am mildly disgusted by the idea. I also have no idea where to buy it. 

You can also make a something called a 'chia egg' but I know my limits. I'm clearly out of my depth with all this, so let's return to the banana.

Ingredients      

  • 1 (normal-sized) banana
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • Half a teaspoon of baking powder
  • 100g of plain flour
  • 250ml plant-based milk
  • Vegan butter or vegetable oil
  • A hand mixer

Instructions

On this recipe, I'm using the Breville HeatSoft hand mixer. (The USP of this hand mixer, as the name suggests, is the heating feature that allows you to use butter straight from the fridge. That's not something I can use in this recipe but we reviewed it and it absolutely does work.) This function aside, it's an efficient hand mixer that also comes with a whisk and dough hook, so it's a really solid one-step solution for baking. The thing I like best about it is that it slots into a storage case that houses all of its accessories, so they won't let lost in the cupboard. 

It's got an RRP of £69.99 but it's generally retailing for about £20 less. You can buy it from Currys PC World for £49.   

Start off by slicing the banana into the bowl. Then sieve in the baking powder and flour. Finally, pour in the milk. Blend it until smooth.

Get hold of a frying pan and heat up your butter/vegetable oil. When it's hot, pour three large spoonfuls of your batter into the centre of the pan to make a pancake.

It was at this point that I realised that I forgot to add the lemon juice. I decided to press on without it.

I thought turning over the pancakes would be difficult but I used a rubber spatula and it was easy. The recipe made eight smallish pancakes. I chucked a lot of sugar over them. 

Vegan banana pancakes

Verdict

These were easy to make and delicious. They're fluffy, not too sweet and the banana flavour is more of a sly wink than a punch in the chops. Give these a go.

Potato pancakes

There's only one issue with this recipe. It's a way to use up leftover mashed potato, which is a problem that no one ever has. However, you can also boil up a couple of potatoes and use them, which'll give you something to do while eating leftover mash.

Ingredients

  • 250g cold mashed potato or 2 medium-sized floury boiled potatoes
  • 75g of plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 125ml milk
  • Chives or 2 cloves of garlic
  • Butter or sunflower oil
  • A whisk or blender

Instructions   

The instructions tell you to start off with a mixing bowl, but I'm using the Russell Hobbs Desire 3-in-1 blender. It comes with a mini-chopper (which is an enclosed container with a blade that the blender handle fits into, for no-mess mixing), so I'm just throwing all the ingredients in there.

I dropped in the leftover mash, then sieved in the flour and baking soda, because as you will have ascertained by now, I'm nothing if not professional. The recipe I found called for chives, but I've swapped that for garlic as I like to put garlic in everything. (Note to self: is this why people don't like my desserts?) 

I then cracked in the eggs, added the milk and blitzed the mix. 

I absolutely love this mini-chopper. I'm not using it for its intended purpose as I'm blending, not chopping, but it is a really effective way to get a lump-free batter. So I'm going to call that a cooking hack. It's much better than the rice cooker idea, anyway.

The Desire is a stick blender that (as its 3-in-1 name suggests) transforms into a hand whisk and chopper. It also comes with a jug for smoothies and the like. At 500W, it's not as powerful as the Smeg I used in the nightmare rice cooker pancake recipe but it more than gets the job done. It's my MVP of the day. And it comes in at under £40 for the set (RRP £39.99). It's available to buy from Russell Hobbs at this price, but if you shop around, you might find it a few quid cheaper elsewhere.

The next step is to heat up some butter or oil in a pan. When it's nice and hot, add three large spoonfuls of batter to the centre of the pan to make one pancake. When it slides around in the pan, it's ready to be flipped over. The recipe makes about eight pancakes in total.

Potato pancakes

Verdict 

This is another recommended recipe. These are rich, savoury and filling. Some people – like a tech writer who's been making pancakes all day – might say too rich. The serving suggestion was to add the potato pancakes to a plate of eggs and bacon. But unless you are a competitive eater, I'd suggest adding them to a cup of black coffee and a lie-down.

Final verdict

The vegan pancake recipe was the overall winner. In terms of taste and texture, the recipe didn't lose anything by excluding milk and eggs and it gained flavour with the banana.

The potato pancake recipe was also delicious but this is definitely something to make when you are very hungry. Very, very hungry. The rice cooker pancake is an aberration. Even if you perfected the sketchy recipe, it takes much longer than normal pancakes, so why bother?  

In terms of the tech, my pick is the Russell Hobbs Desire 3-in-1 blender. For under £40 (just) this does just about everything. You can buy it from Russell Hobbs and other retailers.