Keto Cakes: Are These Even Pancakes?

Like the rules of poetry (and pretty much everything), I believe the rules of pancakes are meant to be broken. Otherwise life would be a whole lot less fun, creative, and delicious. However, definitions make for good guidelines and it is within this framework I present this review.

Birch Benders makes one of my favorite protein pancake mixes. They are guaranteed to be easy to make and fluffy to eat. Recently, they launched a line of microwavable cup mixes, including several pancake flavors. A pancake in a cup! How cool and cute is that!

At $11.99 for a package of four, plus shipping, these aren’t inexpensive. Oh, and they are also marketed as “Keto,” because people hate carbs now. They are not low calorie though, at an average of 200 calories per tiny cup serving. I don’t really know where the calories are coming from (maybe the 17g of fat), but if I’m going to eat 200 calories or more of a small pancake, they better taste fucking good.

I bought two varieties: Strawberry Shortcake and Classic Maple. I was especially interested in the Strawberry Shortcake, which I tried first. I guesstimated the addition of three tablespoons of water. I thought the batter smelled like a strawberry Pop-Tart, which I love (not a keto food product). I microwaved my adorably decorated Strawberry Shortcake cup for 60 seconds and then looked at it very suspiciously. My first bite was…terrible. I tried another bite to be sure and then threw it away. It was dry, tasted artificial, and left me with a bad mouthfeel.

The next one I tried was the Classic Maple, and I very carefully measured three tablespoons of water, in case this was an operator error situation. I mixed, microwaved, and again looked at the finished product suspiciously. This one was better, but something was still off about it. It kind of tasted like a pancake, but I had to think pretty hard about it.

So are these even pancakes? 

The Strawberry Shortcake gets a resounding “no” and while the Classic Maple was reminiscent flavor-wise of a pancake, it was certainly not a “flat cake made of thin batter.” It was a semi dry, salty, fluffy ball of “maybe pancake.”

I want to reiterate that Birch Benders makes excellent protein pancake mixes, which I will continue to use. I might consider eating the rest of these alleged “pancake cups” in an emergency situation, where I also have access to power and a microwave. The only thing these left me with was a terrible craving for a real pancake topped with strawberries. 

JUST THE STACKS – 0/10 TASTY STACKS  

Overall Taste: Not good. I wanted to give one point for the Classic Maple, but since I have deemed these Not Pancakes I can’t even give out a point.

Mouthfeel: Sad, disappointing, and confusing.

Protein per serving:  7g*

Carbs per serving: 10g*

Price:  $11.99 for 4

Available at: Birch Benders and Amazon.

* The nutrition facts listed on Amazon and Birch Benders are slightly different from each other for the same products and I don’t know why this is, but surely someone is going to get upset if they don’t know if something has 7 or 10 grams of protein.

Country Touch Cafe: More Than a Touch Too Chewy

Immediately, I knew there would be trouble. You should never have trouble cutting a pancake.

Country Touch Cafe, located in Torrance, CA is an adorable hole-in-the-wall diner with delightfully decorated mugs and charming decor which include painted saws hanging from the wall. As lovable as this place is, it is not a good place to order pancakes. In fact, it is a bad place to order pancakes.

I came here on a date with the aforementioned blue-eyed space guy (who I guess was not terribly put off by my food flinging) and we both ordered omelettes. I was unable to resist trying their pancakes too, labeled only as “Hot Cakes” on the menu.

I tried to cut a piece of pancake with my fork, which should be easy to do, but was challenging. Immediately, I knew there would be trouble. You should never have trouble cutting a pancake. It’s a sign they will be chewy and unpleasant to eat.

I sampled a mouthful and it was bad. I tried them with butter and syrup and they were still bad. My date, who continued his disturbing pancake preferences by revealing he liked to “murder his pancakes with syrup” did so and also found them bad.

Honestly, I felt guilty because this place is so sweet. I think I ate half trying to convince myself they were not that bad. On the plus side, these weren’t as inedible as the infamous Mel’s, which is why they have a higher rating.

My date was kind about my pancake disappointment, and told me it was ok I didn’t like them. At one point, while trying to decide if his eyes were actually blue or some delicate variation I couldn’t quite put my finger on, I picked up the milk saucer instead of the syrup and proceeded to pour milk over the pancakes. Despite this extra moisture, the pancakes were still hard to cut.

If you’re in the area and craving standard diner food or maybe the Bul-Goki Omelette I saw on the menu, you should come here. I’d come back for the mugs, which I wanted to steal (but didn’t). Just don’t order the pancakes.

JUST THE STACKS – 2/10 TASTY STACKS

Overall Taste: Not good.

Mouthfeel: Bad.

Size: Large.

Presentation: Standard pancake on pancake.

Price: $5.95 – $8.45

Location: 3717 W 190th St, Torrance, CA 90504

Protein Pancake Series: Kodiak Cakes Cake-Off

Let’s say you’re already late for work but desperately need a pancake fix and just don’t have the fucking time to slice strawberries. Whip these fluffers up and wham-o!

I recently updated my dating profile to note I was only interested in dating men who were good eaters. Shockingly, this has not brought the boys running to me. While my next pancake date percolates, I had a very exciting pancake-off between three Kodiak Cakes Power Cake mixes: Strawberry Chocolate Chip, Cinnamon Oat, and Almond Poppy Seed. They all have 14 grams of protein per half cup serving, and I made these with unsweetened cashew milk instead of water. Let’s start eating!

Strawberry Chocolate Chip  
I was excited about all of these, but I was most excited for the Strawberry Chocolate Chip. This is one of my favorite pancake combinations and it’s hard to get the consistency right but it can be done. There’s a risk the strawberries end up in a mushy clump in the middle of the pancake, but this problem is avoided using a mix with just the strawberry flavor.

The batter smelled slightly like strawberry milk, which was pleasant. There are adorable mini chocolate chips in the mix! That was my favorite part. The taste was good but not outstanding. The strawberry flavor is a little off. Obviously, if you’re expecting real strawberries you’re going to be disappointed, but I think you’re better off adding real strawberries.

Tasty Stacks Rating: 7.5/10

Cinnamon Oat
The Cinnamon Oat batter both smelled and resembled oatmeal cookies when mixing. Surely this bodes well, right? That’s what I thought too. I hate to write this, but these were bad. We’re talking Mel’s Drive-In bad, except still better than that because I could easily chew them. I’m not sure what to do with this mix, the side of the box suggests I can make these into muffins, which might be better.

Tasty Stacks Rating: 2/10  

Almond Poppy Seed
The Almond Poppy Seed, which I have tried once before, remained my favorite of these three. The flavor reminds me of a subdued marzipan. The batter has tiny poppy seeds in the mix so this impacts the texture slightly, though not in a negative way for my mouthfeel. You should definitely put fresh strawberries on these. I don’t think they even need syrup, but of course they are excellent with (high quality) syrup. 

Tasty Stacks Rating: 10/10  

The Winner!
The clear winner of these three was the Almond Poppy Seed, followed by the Strawberry Chocolate Chip. The Strawberry one is growing on me to be honest. Let’s say you’re already late for work but desperately need a pancake fix and just don’t have the fucking time to slice strawberries. Whip these fluffers up and wham-o! Kodiak Cakes mixes make sturdy pancakes, so you can throw these in your bag and take them with you as you journey through your day.

Erewhon: Are These Even Pancakes?


Pancakes should bring joy and delight, and maybe evoke pleasant memories of smiley-face chocolate chip pancakes.

I have been irritated by these pancakes ever since Erewhon started selling them. They’re tiny. They cost $10.95 and don’t even have any gluten in them. Gluten is delicious but I understand some people can’t or won’t eat it. 

I gave these pancakes the benefit of the doubt. I put them on a real plate and heated them up, but not too much, because I didn’t want them to lose their “raw” integrity. I tried to eat them with an open mind and paired them with a good cup of coffee.

I felt like I was eating mashed up fruit & nuts sculpted into a circular shape. They tasted exactly like their ingredients: pecan, cashew, banana, apple juice, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, Himalayan salt, red maca. This wasn’t necessarily bad, but it did not delight my taste-buds. I felt cheated out of a pancake experience.

These mini “pancakes” come with syrup and a coconut cream spread. The coconut cream was pretty tasty and added an interesting layer of sweetness but didn’t do much to improve my opinion. The syrup was a nice touch but didn’t make me feel like I was eating pancakes. 

Do these even meet the definition of a pancake? 

Merriam-Webster defines a pancake as “a flat cake made of thin batter and cooked (as on a griddle) on both sides.” I don’t mean to be a pancake militant, but according to this definition and my gut feeling, these aren’t pancakes. Pancakes should bring joy and delight, and maybe evoke pleasant memories of smiley-face chocolate chip pancakes. These did none of that for me.

If I wanted an expensive fruit nut mush snack, I might get these again, but I doubt it. I think there are better vegan, gluten-free pancake options out there. But if you are desperately craving pancakes and you pretend real fucking hard, these might work for you.

Just the Stacks – 2/10 Tasty Stacks 

Overall Taste: These had a definite health bar taste to them.

Mouthfeel: Sweet and mushy, but the coconut cream had a very nice texture to it.

Size: Perfect for a dollhouse.  

Presentation: Not the most aesthetically pleasing.

Price: $10.95

Location:  585 Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

It’s Not You, It’s the Pancakes: Mel’s Drive-In


You should never have trouble cutting pancakes.

The worst pancakes I ever had in Los Angeles were at Mel’s Drive-In in Sherman Oaks. It was my second date with a guy who was cute but super flaky. Our second date took place approximately six months after our first one. But also, he lived in the Valley so I didn’t have high hopes for a lasting relationship. Back to the pancakes. In an appreciated effort to be very sweet, he pre-ordered me TWO orders of pancakes before I arrived. This is a risky move. If the pancakes are super fucking amazing, lukewarm or even cool pancakes are no big deal (to me), but if the pancakes are anything less than that, there’s big trouble. I was worried the moment he texted me that he had already ordered me pancakes since I was still a good 10 minutes away.

My fears were well founded. The pancakes were terrible. I didn’t have the heart to tell him. I’ve never had so much trouble eating pancakes. I even had trouble cutting them. You should never have trouble cutting pancakes. I doused them in syrup, which I rarely do. It didn’t help. They were chewy, and a bad chewy. It was like overdone steak you have to chew and chew and finally give up and just swallow the chunk anyway. These are supposed to be your basic “Old Fashioned Buttermilk Pancakes.” You can add berries and bananas which probably would have helped. I don’t know how Mel’s fucked up these alleged buttermilk pancakes so badly, but they did. This is a chain, so I don’t know if the other locations are any better, and I can’t say I am in any kind of rush to compare.

In case you’re wondering what happened to the guy, who knows. He disappeared back into the Valley. But he did leave me with a pair of Superman booty shorts from a certain Superman production, so I don’t have any hard feelings… except about those pancakes.

Just the Stacks – 0/10 Tasty Stacks

Image via Jared from Flickr.

Overall Taste: Trash.

Mouthfeel: Trash.

Size: Decent.

Presentation: Trash masquerading as a stack of pancakes.

Price: $9.95 ($1.75 for berries/bananas added)

Location: 14846 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403