The contest is over! We got a total of 7 official guesses on this contest, and unfortunately the actual guesses were incorrect. However, 2 people did mention the Secret Ingredient in the discussion!
More than one person mentioned beer. Some deep frying batters also use beer to introduce gas into the batter to make it light. I have also heard club soda, or soda water being used. However those ingredients don’t seem to be as effective as what I am about to tell you.
Beer and soda water don’t really react with the batter. Some may argue the point, but the reaction of these 2 ingredients is minimal, and I’m not sure that adding them and stirring them into batter actually adds all that much gas. What you want to create is a chemical reaction. The only ingredient you can use that will cause a chemical reaction with the result of creating gas is: vinegar.
That’s right! Adding vinegar to pancake batter (and other batters too) causes carbon dioxide to be released into the batter in the form of bubbles. The bubbles will be uniformly distributed throughout the batter causing it to lightly foam. The surprising part is that you can add a considerable amount of vinegar to the batter before the flavor is even discernible. Normally I use a capful or even 2, but I have also done experiments to see just how much could be added before I can taste it. Seems like if you use a capful or two, the vinegar is “burned up” so to speak and leaves no residual taste. But even if you accidentally use more, you might not even notice. I suggest that you experiment to find that “sweet spot.”
Now, let’s take a look at our guesses! I’ll comment on them at the bottom.
Responses to “ Guess The Secret Ingredient! ”
Peter Ho said:
“My guess is, “buttermilk”…as adding that will affect the amount of baking soda and baking powder used (which in the older posts, people who mentioned one of those ingredients you said were on the right path or close…)
You can also make your own buttermilk by adding in lemon juice or vinegar as well.”
His guess was “buttermilk” but he actually mentioned vinegar as a way of making buttermilk. It’s my opinion that the chemical reaction aspect wasn’t part of the guess because he mentions the reason for buttermilk is because “adding that will affect the amount of baking soda and baking powder used.” So it would seem that the buttermilk would be a substance to “cut” the batter with to control the proportion of baking soda or powder. Peter also said “which in the older posts, people who mentioned one of those ingredients you said were on the right path or close…” Yes I did say that because of the well known connection between baking soda and vinegar. When I was a kid, I must have made a dozen CO2 fire extinguishers!
Lastly Kieny said:
“Ok we have only one guess? Wel,l it’s not baking powder or baking soda with vinegar or yeast. I say the secret ingredient is BEER!”
Now I feel really bad! Kieny was reasoning things out and rejected vinegar as the Secret Ingredient! I don’t know how Kieny arrived at that conclusion but I never said that!
So, we don’t have a clear winner! But even so, we must have a winner! The prize is a bottle of Pineapple vinegar, great for drinking, and one of the wonderful vinegar concoctions we have here in Taiwan. So I’m going to ask the readers to select the winner from the above 2 answers that mentioned vinegar! Please feel free to vote on the best answer below:
Voting ends at midnight on Monday!
I would like to thank everyone who participated in this contest. We’ll have another one again soon!