For a while now, it seems we've been reading about Batter Blaster everywhere. For whatever reason, the food blogging crowd has been simply captivated by the latest addition to the food-in-a-spray-can family.
Batter Blaster, a spray can of pancake (or waffle) batter, started hitting store shelves in the fall. Even though it's still available only in select stores, it caught the attention of food and kitchen bloggers immediately. Some praised it for its brilliant simplicity. Others scoffed because...well, because it comes in a spray can. Most early reviewers just seemed to love it for its kitsch value.
Would it be as slimy and weird as I imagined? Or would it produce fluffy little cakes of breakfast heaven? Truth be told, I wasn't in a big hurry to find out. Meanwhile, people started uploading videos about Batter Blaster on YouTube. And others kept on blogging about it. But when the intriguing (if slightly disconcerting) batter-in-a-can made it to the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle, we decided to settle the batter matter once and for all.
So CNET News.com video reporter Kara Tsuboi and I donned our aprons to do a side-by-side taste test of pancakes made from scratch versus those squeezed out of the Batter Blaster canister. (For the test, I used Cook's Illustrated's recipe for "Light and Fluffy Pancakes.")
Making them from scratch took 3 minutes (but we should note that that was with the two of us splitting duties, so double that time to 6 minutes for an estimate for a one-man job). The Batter Blaster pancakes, of course, required no preparation time at all. You simply pop off the top, give the can a shake, and squirt the batter straight into an oiled pan.
We noticed some differences in consistency, and the "blasted" batter didn't bubble up as much as regular batter did. The Batter Blaster pancakes also didn't brown like normal pancakes; it seemed not to have the same kind of nooks and crannies so it browned to one flat, uniform color. The canned batter didn't rise to the same degree as the others either.
How did they taste? The first thing I noticed was that they were super sweet. And their texture was a little off, too; our official panel of tasters (Kara, our camera guy Jared, and me) called them foamy, spongy, and rubbery. We were reminded of airplane pancakes or prepackaged, frozen pancakes. But all that said, they were entirely passable pancakes--especially if taken on their own and not directly compared with the regular ones.
Compared with the real thing, which really were deliciously light and fluffy if I do say so myself, they just didn't hold up. But my hunch is the people behind Batter Blaster aren't trying to make it compete with homemade pancakes. People looking for the perfect pancake are going to make their own no matter what.
But the zero prep time and easy cleanup could well be worth the taste and texture trade-off for the cooking-challenged or for people who are cooking for one or two and don't want to make a whole batch. It could be very cool for people going camping (The can needs to be refrigerated, though, so it'd need to stay in a cooler). And the spray method makes it fun for kids because you can make fun shapes--an added challenge for the most skilled pancake flipper!
Batter Blaster also wins some points for using only organic ingredients and making the entire package (including the plastic cap) recyclable. You can check out the video of our culinary adventures here.