There Is Indeed A Science To Stacking A Perfect Tower Of Pancakes
Breaking the Guinness Record for the tallest pancake stack -- about 40 inches tall, the height of the average 4 year old -- is no job for a chef, suggests one engineer.
It's just not a cook's area of expertise, he says. It's a task for science.
And so, on behalf of food site Extra Crispy, engineer and self-proclaimed zealous pancake man Alex Weinberg bravely embarked on a mission in July to build a pancake structure taller than the world had ever seen.
First things first, Weinberg's team did not succeed. Their stack was about a foot and a half shy of the record, which remains held by a British resort (and was done by chefs, sooo).
That being said, the engineer learned much about the science of constructing pancake towers. As he suspected, there's a lot more than simple stacking involved.
In an in-depth report on pancake precipices, he's back, and this time he's got all the answers.
First, Weinberg must make sure his pancakes suit Guinness World Records guidelines: They need to be the right diameter and thickness (a centimeter at most), and they must be edible and distributed for consumption so no food goes to waste. Edible, Weinberg notes, does necessarily mean tasty.
Weinberg knew that fluffy pancakes reminiscent of Sunday brunches by the beach would not fare as well as mercilessly thin flapjacks, and he therefore forwent "all palatability" in his recipe for the sake of the stack.
He researched exhaustively, comparing the effects of weight on concrete and steel to that of pancakes, hypothesizing what wind might do to his precious structure.
He found that squishy pancakes would simply flatten under the weight of additional pancakes, so formulating a thin and stiff cake (again, sacrificing all palatability) is the best move. But there's a catch; the thinner the cake, the more cakes he'll need to stack, which creates a higher risk of imbalance, or a toppling tower.
As expected, Weinberg developed a pancake recipe that would be not only unappetizing, but very possibly carcinogenic, due to its use of the structure-improving additive potassium bromate. In the name of science, the recipe also employs buckwheat flour and zero sugar.
To ensure proper form and stiffness, Weinberg determined that each pancake should be inspected and left out for at least several hours to become stale. Only then can the stacking commence.
The surface should be flat and level, and the stacker should not be faint of heart. Once complete, the stack must remain upright for at least five seconds. After disassembly, "the cold, rigid, carcinogenic food discs can be distributed for joyless consumption."
Victory, he says, isn't always sweet.