Published September 1, 2011. From Cook's Illustrated.
Pancake batter dispensers are the secret behind restaurants’ quick-to-the-plate, perfectly shaped disks. Is there one that works just as well at home?
Pancake batter dispensers are the secret behind restaurants’ quick-to-the-plate, perfectly shaped disks. Seeking similarly professional results at home, we tested five batter dispensers priced from about $10 to $30, comparing each with our usual method of scooping up batter with a quarter-cup measure. Although dispensers eliminate the messy batter trail left by that method, the narrow mouths on three of the models made them nearly impossible to fill cleanly, and their small capacities forced us to refill (and spill) repeatedly. The bulky design on one model made it hard to see the batter as it hit the pan—as well as gauge how much to release. Two others trapped up to a 1/2 cup of batter in their mechanisms. We fared better with a French press look-alike with settings for different pancake sizes and a plunger that smoothly pushed out batter. But our favorite was beautifully simple. Just a squeeze of this tall plastic cylinder with a heat-resistant silicone nozzle allowed us to draw letters and shapes in addition to creating perfect pancakes.