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The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/08/2019 12:27 PM

There's a scene in the 1989 flick "Uncle Buck" where the eponymous character makes a stack of massive pancakes for his nephew's birthday:

I have two kids who are pancake lovers and I'd love to replicate this, but most internet sites are absolutely no help. One source claimed to have a "how-to" for Uncle Buck pancakes but made ones that were only about a foot in diameter.

I'm looking to your thinking as engineers to help. My first thought would be to put a giant greased cookie sheet across all four burners of my stove but the heat would be uneven and there's still the problem of flipping.

Is a three-foot pancake possible outside a commercial kitchen? How would you do it?

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#1

Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/08/2019 12:39 PM
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#2
In reply to #1

Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/08/2019 1:20 PM

I would use an extra large spatula to loosen the pancake for flipping...

https://www.amazon.com/Update-International-Extra-Large-Stainless-Commercial/dp/B000K8ATL2

...and maybe a crepe flipper or two....

https://www.amazon.com/BICB-0001-Beechwood-Crepe-Spatula/dp/B01EDTY5SG

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#3

Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/08/2019 2:00 PM

Pizza peel.

Pizza stone - large

Oven.

Certain to be a very large mess.

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#4
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Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/08/2019 2:48 PM

The pizza peel for sure -- maybe on the cookie sheet?

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#5

Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/08/2019 3:51 PM

Largest pancake
The largest pancake was created in Rochdale, Manchester, UK in 1994, by the Co-Operative Union, Ltd. Measuring 15.01 m (49 ft 3 in) in diameter and 2.5 cm (1 in) thick, the pancake weighed 3 tonnes (6,614 lb), and took more than just a frying pan to flip over!

http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/news/2014/3/flipping-amazing-seven-of-the-best-pancake-day-records-55616-55617/

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#6
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Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/08/2019 5:11 PM

Maybe.

Remember, this is a gag scene in a movie.

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#7

Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/08/2019 6:16 PM

You could go to a restaurant supply place and get a giant pizza pan. Actually ... maybe the easier way out would be to bake it??

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#8

Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/08/2019 6:23 PM

I did the giant pancake thing once for my kids. I used the size of our largest dinner plate as the limiter for the finished cakes.

Couldn’t see any sense serving a 15” dia cake on a 10” plate.

I had some 15” chop plates, made 12” cakes in the cast iron skillet - these were a HUGE hit with the preteen kids.

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#9

Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/08/2019 10:30 PM

I wanna know where I can get that pat of butter!

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#10

Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/08/2019 11:25 PM

I make pizza in the oven on thick pizza stones. One is round one is square.

I heat them up for an hour at 550 degrees and have done experiments with different dough and methods.

The stones get hot enough and have enough thermal mass to cook on without hot/cool spots. Occasionally I will pull one out of the hot oven and place in on the stove top to pre-cook a crust.

With some parchment paper on top nothing will stick to it.

I'm sure.. in fact I'll try and make at least one big flapjack using the hot pizza stone.

A ten minute reheat of the stone between pizza is best.

A cookie sheet can be used as a peel.

I make a lot of pancakes and my ultra miniature stacks of carefully drizzled mix was always a hit with me and mine.

(I only did that with the last of the mix)

Good luck

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#11

Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/09/2019 12:17 AM

First thing you want to get is an extra large Comal. These can be found up to 30" in diameter. They are also known as a " southwest discada ".

Then you need an outdoor propane stove. These can be found at Asian & latino supply houses / markets.

As much pancakes mix as you need.

Real maple syrup, Vermont.

A pizza spatula.

Buerremont 55 lb. Block of butter.

Several dozen hungry children.

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#12

Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/09/2019 6:03 AM

Try searching for large commercial crepe hot plates.

This one is the largest (16") I could find quickly at a reasonable cost (about $200).

Over in continental Europe you often see "crepe vans" in tourist areas with huge cooking hot plates.

Maybe an Ebay search for burger van hot plates would yield something.

Or buy a gas griddle hotplate burner (about $30 each: might need more than one) and mount it under a home made hot plate.

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#13

Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/09/2019 7:42 AM

You can buy large pieces of sheet metal (2-foot x 2-foot) at places like Lowes or Home Depot.

Buy 2 sheets and cover them both with heavy duty aluminum foil. Then spray them with cooking spray.

The trick is put BOTH of them on top of the stove, one on top of the other. Once the upper sheet is hot, pour on the batter. Wait until the top of the batter gets waxy-looking, then lift the upper piece of sheet metal and flip the pancake onto the lower sheet. Watch the temperature, since the lower sheet will be hotter. Within a minute, the pancake should be done.

Needless to say, you might want to use leather welder’s gloves to grab and flip the top sheet.

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#14

Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/09/2019 10:01 AM

You need a big Paella pan and a pizza peel and that should do. The paella pans come in 4 foot and even 8 foot diameters and have burner racks that hold them.

https://www.tienda.com/paella/paella_pans.html

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#15
In reply to #13

Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/09/2019 10:54 AM

Sounds like this is the best solution if I want to go all-in on this. Thanks for the suggestion.

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#16

Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/09/2019 3:40 PM

20" iron skillets can be bought for not too much of an investment. Just set it up on weber grill and have lots of pancake mix ready.

Can also cook several pounds of bacon or a dozen eggs at once to go with the pancakes.

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#17

Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/09/2019 6:02 PM

One of the major constraints here is that the cooking surface is to be heated by fire. If that constraint were removed, the choice of cooking vessel and cooking surface would be much larger.

One of my backpacking companions used to provide us with "boiled cake". He would put cake mix in a zip lock, add water and put the whole thing in a pot of boiling water. Since the internal temperature for a cake is 175 to 200 deg F, it would bake very nicely in the boiling water.

The approach that I would consider then for the "Uncle Buck's pancakes" would be to make a shallow wooden mold (3' diameter x 1/4" high). Put in the pancake batter and cook it with steam, either from a hose or in a steam chamber. The pancakes wouldn't brown at all, so that could be done with a propane torch.

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#18
In reply to #17

Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/10/2019 8:54 AM

Was the batter evenly distributed in the plastic bag? Did he boil the water in a wide pan and laid the bag so the batter was flat? If he dunked it in a saucepan with the closure on top and the batter sort of slumped in the bottom I'd expect uneven baking. What a great idea, though. I'll pass it along to my outdoorsy friends.

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#19
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Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/10/2019 9:17 AM

"then lift the upper piece of sheet metal and flip the pancake onto the lower sheet."

Just to avoid accidents: how about, move the upper sheet with the half cooked pancake on it; flip the bottom sheet onto the top; flip the whole sandwich back onto the cooker, then, remove the first sheet.

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#20
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Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/10/2019 4:57 PM

I would modify that a bit by pulling out the bottom sheet, putting it on top, and then flipping the whole thing. That way, the uncooked side of the pancake starts out on a hot surface, which may help prevent sticking.

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#21
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Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/10/2019 6:13 PM

BestIn,

The cake mix and water were combined in a 1 qt. ziplock, kneaded from the outside to mix, then dropped into a small size saucepan (approx 6" dia x 3" high) of boiling water. The heat transfer from the hot water to the ziplock on the bottom and sides must have been quite good since I don't remember any uneven cooking.

LG_Dave

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#22
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Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/10/2019 7:22 PM

I see what you mean, but, I'm not sure I'd want to apply flames direct to the foil covering.

May be OK.

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#23
In reply to #19

Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/10/2019 8:51 PM

Hey, there's nothing wrong with a little drama in the kitchen,,,reminds me of the story about the pizza maker who almost suffocated when he was flipping dough.

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#24
In reply to #18

Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/10/2019 8:57 PM

I wondered about that cake bake too. If it was a zip.lock bag, wouldn't it of expanded ? Maybe when the bag popped open, dessert was on the table.

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#25
In reply to #21

Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/11/2019 8:14 AM

Thanks, LG, I'm going to try this out of curiosity. I'm impressed that whoever thought this up realized that the critical issue was heating the batter to the right temperature, not necessarily the cooking method. I bet that was nice moist cake too, perhaps served with some wild berries picked along the way?

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#26
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Re: The "Uncle Buck" Pancakes

01/11/2019 7:49 PM

BestIn,

The cake was nice and moist and we had wild berries whenever the bears didn't object. The altitude 6,000 to 8,000 feet, so the water was boiling at about 197 to 201 F.

Please report on your results.

LG_Dave

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