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Perfect Griddle Cakes To Make Simply Delicious Recipes For The Meal

Quick Answer: What Is The Difference Between Griddle Cake Vs Pancakes?

Whether you call them pancakes, griddle cakes, flapjacks, hotcakes or crepes, made from a simple combination of flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and milk or buttermilk, they are essentially the same. One term may be used more often in a certain country than in other places, while another term might be popular in a different country. Even within a country, like in the United States, there can be different terminology for essentially the same thing.

As a basic, non-yeast type of ‘cake’, griddle cakes, pancakes, hotcakes, or flapjacks are easy to prepare, provide the perfect surface for different toppings, and are simply delicious! In North America it is common to serve pancakes with a protein source like small, pork breakfast sausages or bacon, either Canadian (peameal) or the thinly sliced type of bacon popular in both Canada and the United States.

Pancakes are most often associated with breakfast food, but in my household, they are popular at any meal time. Breakfast for supper? Why not?! A big stack of round, fluffy pancakes accompanied by a platter of sausages, and served with a side of fried eggs makes a great evening meal.

Whether you call them griddle cakes, pancakes, flapjacks, hotcakes, or crepes one of the great things about them is that they are extremely versatile. You can make them sweet or savory, thick or thin, stack them or not. 

All of these versions of essentially the same thing are made with basic ingredients like flour, eggs, baking powder and baking soda, a little salt, oil and milk. They are quick and easy to make, combining the mixed dry ingredients with the mixed wet ingredients, and spooning the resulting batter in rounds onto a preheated skillet or griddle. They are divine with a little butter and a whole lot of maple syrup.

With so many terms for basically the same thing, it can be confusing. What exactly are the differences? Does one term mean something distinctive in some way from another term? Are there slight differences, and if so, what are they?

In this article, I provide you with information on each term in an easy-to-read chart form, so you can quickly see at a glance how these terms relate to each other.

The Flapjack

TermWhere Term UsedIngredientsHow It Is MadeInteresting Facts
FlapjacksThe term flapjack is commonly used instead of the term pancake in the south and southeastern United States.
Outside of this area you will hear the word pancake in North America. 
Flour
May contain oats
White sugar
Baking powder
Baking soda
Salt
Milk
Eggs
Oil
The dry ingredients are mixed together: flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
The wet ingredients – milk, eggs and oil –  are mixed together separately from the dry ingredients.
The dry and wet ingredients are combined and stirred just until the two are mixed together.
The term flapjack was first used in England in the 1300s.
At that time, “flap” meant “flip”. These cakes were turned over to cook on the other side, and this was called flapping.
In the 1600s, flapjacks were common in the United Kingdom where they were typically eaten for breakfast.
Then in the 1930s a flapjack became  what is known in North America as a granola bar. Flapjack still has that meaning in the UK today.

The Griddle Cake

What the heck is a griddle anyway? A griddle has a large, flat cooking surface making it ideal for cooking pancakes. Griddles are growing in popularity now and are used to cook a whole host of things like bacon, sausages, even vegetables.

TermWhere Term UsedIngredientsHow It Is MadeInteresting Facts
Griddle CakesThe term griddle is used in the UK and in North America, while in Scotland it’s called a girdle.
In Wales this large, flat cooking surface is called a bakestone or planc.
There are equivalent terms used in many countries. For example, in Mexico the griddle is called a plancha which is used to make tortillas, a flatbread.
Flour
White sugar
Baking powder
Baking soda
Salt
Milk
Eggs
Oil or butter
The dry ingredients are mixed together: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
The wet ingredients – milk, eggs and oil –  are mixed together separately from the dry ingredients.
The dry and wet ingredients are combined and stirred just until the two are mixed together.
Griddle cakes are essentially pancakes. The name comes more from the piece of equipment used to cook the food on rather than the ‘pancake’ itself.
It’s really any form of a cake that is made on a griddle.
Before the 1800’s, in North America, pancakes were called griddle cakes or johnnycakes.

RELATED: What To Eat With Crab Cakes: 16 Amazing Side Dishes

The Hotcake

TermWhere Term UsedIngredientsHow It Is MadeInteresting Facts
HotcakesThe word hotcake and pancake can be used pretty much interchangeably in the United States, Canada, as well as in the UK.Flour
White sugar
Baking powder
Baking soda
Salt
Milk
Eggs
Oil or butter
The dry ingredients are mixed together: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
The wet ingredients – milk, eggs and oil –  are mixed together separately from the dry ingredients.
The dry and wet ingredients are combined and stirred just until the two are mixed together.
Though hotcakes are very similar to pancakes, the only difference might be their thickness.
Hotcakes may be thicker than their near cousin, pancakes.

The Pancake

TermWhere Term UsedIngredientsHow It Is MadeInteresting Facts
PancakesThe term “pancake” is used widely in North America, in both Canada and in the United States.
It is also a term that is used in the UK.
Flour
White sugar
Baking powder
Baking soda
Salt
Milk/Buttermilk
Eggs
Oil or butter
The dry ingredients are mixed together: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
The wet ingredients – milk, eggs and oil –  are mixed together separately from the dry ingredients.
The dry and wet ingredients are combined and stirred just until the two are mixed together.
Pancakes have been around for a very long time – as far back as the ancient Greeks  people were eating pancakes.
They were no doubt made from some different ingredients than today, but they were basically the same.
It wasn’t until the 1880s that maple syrup became the topping of choice for pancakes.
The United States has two National Pancake Days every year!

RELATED: 15 Delicious Side Dishes to Serve with Pancakes

The Crepe

A crepe is very much like a pancake except that instead of being thick and fluffy, it is thin. The reason for this lies in the fact that there is no baking powder in a crepe. 

Crepes can be sweet or savory, and may be filled with all sorts of wonderful things!

TermWhere Term UsedIngredientsHow It Is MadeInteresting Facts
CrepeCrepe is a French word. 
The term, crepe, though it may be pronounced a little differently from place to place, is used globally.
Flour
White sugar
Salt
Milk
Eggs
Butter, melted
The dry ingredients are mixed together: flour, sugar, and salt.
The wet ingredients are added individually to the dry ingredients, first the eggs, then the milk which is poured in gradually, and lastly the melted butter. The ingredients are whisked after each ingredient is added. 
Have you ever heard of a creperie? It’s a pancake house – yum!
A savory crepe has fewer calories than its sweet cousin, the pancake which is often drowned in maple syrup.

The size you make your pancakes is really a matter of preference. For young children, small pancakes are easier to handle. However, it is sometimes fun for kids and adults alike to make pancakes the size of a dinner plate. The only challenge is in turning the pancake.

Pro Tips

Keep your pancakes warm as you make more by putting them in a large pie plate or cake pan and setting them in the oven at 250 F.

To make sausages or bacon as well as pancakes, put the meat on a little before to give it a head start as the meat will cook more slowly than the pancakes will. Cooking the meat in a separate frying pan really simplifies things.

RELATED: What Is The Best Cooling Time Before Frosting Cakes?

The Most Popular Kind Of Pancakes/Griddle Cakes/Flapjacks/Hotcakes

1. Buttermilk – By far the favorite of Americans on National Pancake Day.

2. Blueberry – Blueberry is a distant second.

3. Chocolate Chip – Chocolate Chip follows closely on the heels of Blueberry.

4. Original – The Original comes in just a few points below Chocolate Chip.

5. Banana – Banana was the least eaten on National Pancake Day.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Some Popular Toppings For Pancakes?

Pancake toppings range from fresh fruit to hazelnut spread to the classic maple syrup. In a contest, maple syrup would come out on top for sure. Don’t forget the butter before pouring on the syrup!

Other popular toppings are bananas, blueberries, and apples.  A warm fruit sauce is also wonderful and unlike fresh fruit which is usually cold and can therefore cool off the pancakes, warm fruit sauce helps to keep the pancakes warm.

Peanut butter, and chocolate hazelnut spread are great options as well.

Of course, a dollop of whipped cream on fresh fruit, warm fruit sauce or peanut butter or chocolate hazelnut spread takes pancakes to another level.

What Do The Terms Leavened And Unleavened Mean?

Leavened usually means that yeast is used in the batter to make something rise. That’s why yeast is used to make bread and rolls. However, there are other things that can act as leavening agents such as baking powder and baking soda.

Pancakes contain baking powder and often call for baking soda as well. This causes the bubbling when the pancake is heated, telling you it is time to flip the pancakes.

Unleavened means there is no rising agent present in the batter. The term “flatbread” tells you there is no yeast or other rising agent in these types of bread, and like their name suggests, they are flat. Naan and matzo are two types of unleavened bread.

How Can Pancakes Be Made Healthier?

The nutritional value of pancakes can be increased by making them out of wheat flour or a combination of white and wheat flours. You can also add oatmeal to your pancake batter. 

Putting fruit in the batter will also provide more nutrition. Blueberries, applesauce, and bananas are all great in pancake batter, and can also be put on top of the pancakes when serving.

A Basic Recipe for Pancakes/Hotcakes/Griddle Cakes/Flapjacks

A Basic Recipe for Pancakes/Hotcakes/Griddle Cakes/Flapjacks

Active Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 17 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

An egg is beaten with a hand mixer. To the egg is added flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Vegetable oil, and buttermilk are added to these ingredients, and everything is mixed together with the hand mixer on low, just until the ingredients are combined. With a ladle, the mixture is spooned onto a hot, greased griddle or frying pan. When bubbles begin to appear on the surface, the pancake is flipped, and given a short period of time to finish cooking through.

Materials

  • An egg
  • Flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • Buttermilk
  • Butter
  • Maple syrup

Tools

  • A griddle or a frying pan
  • A large mixing bowl
  • A hand mixer
  • A spatula for flipping the pancakes

Instructions

  1. Put about a tablespoon of vegetable oil on a griddle or frying pan and heat on medium.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, break an egg and beat with an electric mixer until it is frothy.
  3. To the beaten egg, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add the vegetable oil and the buttermilk, and with the hand mixer on low, mix the ingredients just until they are combined. (There may be some lumps.)
  5. With a ladle, pour batter into rounds on the griddle or frying pan.
  6. Watch for bubbles to appear on the surface, then flip the pancakes and leave them just a short time to cook on that side.
  7. Remove the pancakes from the pan and serve them with butter and maple syrup, or the topping of your choice.

Jess Smith
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