If you wander around Tokyo, you’ll start to notice random line ups outside restaurants. People might be politely queuing for that ultimate bowl of ramen, a bag of artisanal popcorn, or (and this is the most likely) a plate of pancakes. Pancakes are extremely popular. So popular that on any given day you’re bound to come across a crazy long line of girls (it’s always girls, with maybe a boyfriend or two thrown in) patiently waiting for pancakes.
With their love of pancakes, it’s no surprise that the Japanese came up with an inventive way to make epic pancakes in their tiny kitchens: in a rice cooker. Yup, you can use your rice cooker for more than just rice! The pancakes kind of end up more like a steamed sponge cake, but they’re easy to make and fun to eat.
Since I’m in Tokyo I decided to do what the Tokyoites do and make a rice cooker pancake. Only thing is: I don’t really read much Japanese so I couldn’t really figure out the difference between all the white powders that were baking powder and baking soda. Asking an employee resulted in a lot of sign language, laughter and, um, no baking powder or soda. What the kind lady did find me though, was a package of “hot cake” mix. I rolled with it because I really wanted to make an epic pancake and I wasn’t about to let a lack of ingredients stand in my way.
Our tiny kitchen (two burners and a combo microwave oven/toaster) came with a rice cooker so after buying the hot cake mix I was pretty much set. I mixed up the batter according to the helpful smiling egg and milk characters on the back of the package, spooned it into the rice cooker and waited.
An hour and a bit later, success! My pancake was golden, fluffy and shaped like a curling stone. I topped it off with some softly whipped cream, the tiniest ruby-red strawberries and a diced kiwi. Not pictured are the copious amounts of sweetened condensed milk I drizzled over the whole thing. I was so happy with the way this giant pancake turned out – it’s just the thing for a celebratory Sunday brunch or maybe even Christmas morning.
Rice Cooker Pancake Recipe
- 1 box pancake mix, plus ingredients listed on the box*
- softly whipped cream
- strawberries and kiwi, or fruit of choice
- syrup or sweetened condensed milk
In a bowl, make the pancakes as instructed on the box. Spoon the batter into your rice cooker and press the start button. Cook the pancake for 45 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Your rice cooker will most likely turn off, so keep and eye on it and re-start it as needed. The pancake is done when it’s domed and a toothpick comes out with just few crumbs sticking to it.
Flip the rice cooker bowl onto a plate. A this point you can either: top it with whipped cream and fruit and then slice it or you can slice it and then top with with whipped cream and fruit. Enjoy warm with plenty of syrup or sweetened condensed milk.
Note: Alternatively you could make this with your favorite pancake recipe, but I haven’t tried it. If you do, be sure to not fill up your rice cooker too high as the pancake will rise and stick to the top. Aim for 2-3 cups of batter max.