When I wrote about dorayaki, the sweet pancake-sandwich that is cat-robot Doraemon’s favorite snack for the Japan Times back in October, I promised to post a recipe for making the little pancakes. Well finally here it is! Read my Japan Time piece for the interesting background while you ponder what’s basically a pancake batter with mirin and soy sauce in it. (At the end of the article I do mention that you can use instant pancake mix, but the recipe below yields much better results and is not that much more difficult.)
I have approached this recipe in what some might consider a rather unusual way. The important point is the ratio between the egg, sugar and flour. Since egg sizes differ, the surest way to make sure you get the right ratio is weigh your eggs first (cracked or uncracked - the shells don’t weigh enough to make a big difference) and then measure out your flour and sugar accordingly.
Whenever I have a recipe that uses mirin, someone invariably asks whether it can be omitted or substituted for. In this case, there really is no substitute. The combination of mirin and soy sauce gives the doroyaki pancake its distinct dark brown color, umami and slight saltiness. If you can’t use mirin for whatever reason, just leave it out.
Makes 12 dorayaki pancakes (6 dorayaki) about 12cm / 4.5 inches in diameter
2 ‘large’ eggs
white superfine or castor sugar (see instructions)
cake flour or all-purpose flour (see instructions)
frying pan or flat crepe pan with smooth non-stick coating
kitchen paper towel
a cloth kitchen towel that has been moistened with water and wrung out
a pair of wooden cooking chopsticks (optional)
Measure the weight of the eggs with your scale. Note down that number. Set aside.
Measure out the same weight as the eggs in sugar in another container. For instance if your eggs weigh 100 grams, measure out 100 grams of sugar. (For ounces people: if your eggs weigh 3.5 oz, weight out 3.5 oz of sugar.) Set aside.
Measure out the same weight as the eggs plus 50% in flour. For instance if your eggs weighed 100 grams in total,, measure out 150 grams of flour. (For ounces people: if your eggs weigh 3.5 ounces, measure out 5.25 ounces of flour.) Add the baking soda to the flour and mix with a fork or your still-dry whisk. Set aside.
Crack the eggs into your mixing bowl and mix with the whisk until the eggs are broken up but not too frothy. Add the sugar, honey, mirin, soy sauce and the 1 tablespoon of oil, and mix well until the sugar has melted and there are no lumps.
Add half of the flour-baking soda mixture; mix well until the flour is amalgamated. Add the rest of the flour slowly. Point: Don’t over-mix or the pancakes will be a bit tough.
Add water (about 1/4 cup, or 50-60 cc) little by little until the batter reaches the consistency of heavy cream. Cover the bowl, and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. (You can make thi the day before and let it rest overnight.)
When you are ready to cook the pancakes, heat up a non-stick frying pan or crepe pan over medium-low heat. Lay the moistened kitchen towel next to your cooker.
When the pan is hot, drizzle a little oil in it, and spread it around with a wadded up piece of kitchen towel. (I use wooden chopsticks to hold the kitchen towel.) The surface of the pan or griddle should only be just lightly coated with oil. If the pan gets too hot (if it stars smoking, or your first pancake gets burned) take it off the heat and put the hot bottom for a second on the moistened kitchen towel to cool it down.
Pour the pancake batter on the griddle to your desired size. (For a 4.5 inch /12cm dorayaki it’s about 2 tablespoons.) Let it cook without turning until tha pancake is cooked through; the top surface should be nearly dry. (If you turn it too fast the bottom surface will be mottled rather than an even brown.) Turn over and cook on the other side for a few seconds while pressing down lightly. Remove from the pan with a spatula.
Let the pancakes cool before filling. When filling, put the nice dark brown side on the outside and the pale side on the inside. Put about a tablespoon of filling in the center of one pancake, press the second pancake on top and press very lightly to form a nicely rounded sandwich.
The dorayaki pancakes can be frozen quite successfully, and will keep for a couple of months well wrapped. I prefer to freeze the pancakes before filling them, although some people freeze the whole filled dorayaki.