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I am missing street food an extra lot today and it’s fascinating how food differs in so many places that street food simply doesn’t exist in the states. Of course, everything is too widespread here, with the exception of a few places like New York, for food stalls on the sides of roads so whenever I do get to visit places with street food, I indulge voraciously!! Whether it be Europe, Asia, or South America, I try as many food stalls as I possibly can.
Today, I was particularly missing “car wheel pancakes” or “Imagawayaki” which are eggy batters stuffed with sweet or savory fillings. The pancake originated from Japan but has become very popular in Taiwan with the name “car wheel pancake” since it is shaped like a wheel. I also do not know any place nearby that sells these gems so because I cannot travel across the globe for one, I decided to make it myself!
Vendors use a specific mold to form these cakes but because I do not own one, I use a sandwich grill I found in my house that is likely from the 90s. Vintage!! If you do not have a sandwich grill or pancake mold, you can use a waffle iron or simply cook the pancakes in a skillet, although the outcome will be flatter and more similar to “dorayaki“.
Fillings span from red bean, sesame, taro, to chocolate, pickled radish, oreo, and so much more. Today, I am filling the pancakes with a homemade custard cream and tapioca pearls. You can use store bought or homemade tapioca.
yield: 5-6 pancakes
- 1 large egg
- 2 tbsp honey or sugar; or half and half
- 2/3 c. milk (any fat percentage works)
- 1 c. all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 c. tapioca pearls cooked and drained
- 1/2 c. lukewarm milk (any fat percentage works)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1-2 drop yellow food coloring (optional); My egg yolks were not very deep in color so the custard cream looked a bit pale. Food coloring is optional for presentation purposes.
- In a medium bowl, beat together the egg, sweeteners, and milk. Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt and combine thoroughly without overmixing. Set mixture aside to allow the gluten to break down a bit.
- In another medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, food coloring, and butter. Pour in lukewarm milk and the vanilla extract and whisk quickly. Sift in the flour.
- In a small pot on low heat, pour in the mixture and whisk constantly for about 10-12 minutes until the mixture thickens up and comes together. Once the custard forms, set aside to allow to cool.
- In the sandwich press, lightly grease the pan and pour in the batter, just enough so that the bottom has a thing layer and the middle is sort of hollowed out for the filling (Watch the attached video for visual instructions).
- Scoop in about 1 tbsp or the custard cream and 1-2 tbsp of tapioca pearls. Pour in more batter on top without overflowing the pan and close the lid and allow to cook for about 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. Once cooked, remove from the pan and allow to cool on a cooling rack. Repeat for the other pancakes.
- Serve with a side or whipped cream of ice cream if you are feeling extra fancy!
These pancakes are best served warm when the filling is gooey, although they do refrigerate well and can be microwaved. They last in the fridge up to one week but will likely be gone before a week is up!
I’m looking forward to try different filling flavors. If you have any crazy flavor combinations, let me know and I’d love to test them out!