Are your pancakes uneven? Are they speckled with unsightly craters? Science is here to help.

Flax-Coconut Pancakes
Credit: © Con Poulos

Researchers at the University College London set out to improve glaucoma treatment and wound up discovering the secret to amazing pancakes. The two subjects might sound completely unrelated (and, yeah, they are), but it turns out eyes and pancakes have a lot in common when it comes to the build-up of liquid.

In the study, researchers analyzed and compared the baker’s percentage (the ratio of liquid to flour) to the aspect ratio (the diameter to the power of three as it relates to the volume of the batter) of 14 different pancake recipes from around the world. They found that ultra-thin crepe-style pancakes with a high baker’s percentage of 225 and an aspect ratio of 300 are more likely to burn because water can easily escape from the batter. Using a batter with a lower baker’s percentage of 100 (an equal amount of flour and liquid) will create thick pancakes with craters, which are created when water vapors lift the pancake from the pan at uneven intervals. For a perfectly smooth, perfectly browned pancake, researchers recommend whipping up a batter with a baker’s percentage of 175. Or, alternately, just make very tiny pancakes with any type of batter.

"We found that the physics of pancake cooking is complex but generally follows one of two trends,” Dr. Yann Bouremel, the co-author of the study, said, according to Science Newsline. “If the batter spreads easily in the pan, the pancake ends up with a smooth surface pattern and less burning as the vapor flow buffers the heat of the pan. We found a thin pancake can only be created by physically spreading the batter across the pan and in this case, the vapor tends to escape through channels or diffusion."

So how does this help glaucoma patients? Glaucoma occurs when liquid builds up in the eye, putting pressure on the optic nerve. By revealing how liquids build up and how they escape, the findings could lead to better surgical treatments as well as better pancakes. If only all research were so productive.