Protein Pancake Series: Updated Birch Benders Review

Pandemic or not, I’ve been eating a fair amount of protein pancakes. Sometimes the commute from my bed to my desk seems insurmountable and then fast, delicious protein pancakes are the way to go. 

Before I met my favorite protein pancakes – Kodiak Cakes, my jam was Birch Benders. I gave them a 9/10 at the time and described their mouthfeel as “sweet fluff and protein fairies dancing on the tongue.”

I thought they missed the mark (egregiously) with their instant Keto Cup Pancakes, and gave them the harshest TastyStacks rating of Not Pancakes. But I still assumed their regular protein pancake mix, my old tried and true, were reliably delicious.

I tried them side by side with Kodiak Cakes for a real-time comparison. I even made the Birch Benders pancake second, giving them the preheated pancake edge. Aesthetically speaking, the Birch Benders pancake looked more golden brown when I flipped it. But that’s where the positives stopped.

They were fine, kind of. If our definition of “fine” means unfluffy pancakes that do not make my mouth happy. They were more dense than Kodiak Cakes, which are perfectly fluffy every time. Their texture paled in comparison.  They were dry and disappointing. I ended up freezing the Birch Benders pancake for some day when I’ve run out of Kodiak Cakes at the same time as a zombie apocalypse and really need an emergency pancake. 


JUST THE STACKS – 5/10 TASTY STACKS  

Overall Taste: Dry and flat and boring but not terrible.

Mouthfeel: Disappointing. I cheered myself up making pancake fruit faces. Cute, right?

Protein per serving: 16g

Carbs per serving: 26g

Price:  $4+ per box

Available at: Birch Benders and Amazon. But I suggest Kodiak Cakes instead.

Protein Pancake Series: Kodiak Cakes

Do you know how hard it is to get perfect pancake fluff with a protein pancake mix? These knock it out of the park every time.

I swiped right on a guy with a beaming smile and muscular arms holding a chicken in his lap. It was the chicken that really intrigued me. “Is that your pet chicken?,” I asked, half jokingly. Not only was it his pet chicken, it was one of several, and they even have their own social media account.

The subject of my pancake blog came up pretty quickly, and he told me his favorite protein pancake mix was from Kodiak Cakes. He made sure to note he could also make excellent pancakes from scratch, but I have yet to verify this. 

Kodiak Cakes is a popular pancake mix with the tagline: “Nourishment for today’s frontier.” The packaging has an aggressive but cute looking bear on the front. They have delicious sounding varieties including: Buttermilk, Dark Chocolate, Cinnamon Oat, Almond Poppy Seed, Chocolate Chip, Strawberry Chocolate Chip (!!!), Peanut Butter, and Buttermilk Chia. 

Up until recently, I had been so happy with Birch Benders mix I hadn’t made room in my belly to try Kodiak Cakes. My date raved about these and I humored him by letting him make me some. He used the Almond Poppy Seed mix and substituted cashew milk for water. This is a brilliant taste-bud discovery we should all be using in our protein pancake mixing. It adds a delicate and silky lushness that makes for a brilliant mouthfeel. 

The pancakes were out-fucking-standing. I topped them with fresh strawberries and syrup but you could eat them plain. They passed the standalone test, or the “naked” test as I like to call it when I’m flirting, which I am absolutely doing here. The Almond Poppy Seed is not a flavor I might have picked on my own and that would have been so sad because these were so damn scrumptious. They were fluffy, creamy, and substantial with a mild, sweet almond flavor. In short, I had found protein pancake heaven.

For the full effect, I recommend these with eggs from your backyard chickens (and bacon, but hopefully not from your backyard pig). Sure, you could use eggs from the grocery store, but what fun is that?

To make sure I really loved the pancakes and was not just smitten with my date, I tried the Buttermilk mix on my own. Absolutely outstanding. Do you know how hard it is to get perfect pancake fluff with a protein pancake mix? These knock it out of the park every time. I prefer the Almond Poppy mix to the Buttermilk but I’m confident in saying these are my new favorite protein pancakes.

Who knows what the future holds, aside from the obvious burning planet and impending zombie outbreak, but one thing is for sure: Kodiak Cakes have seized the coveted golden protein pancake skillet from Birch Benders in a delicious and unexpected twist. You should all be eating these. I’m about to buy every single fucking variety on KodiakCakes.com (because Amazon doesn’t have all the varieties).

JUST THE STACKS – 10/10 TASTY STACKS  

Overall Taste: Pancake bliss; perfectly sweet & fluffy & filling.

Mouthfeel: Really fucking luscious.

Protein per serving: 14g per 1/2 cup (I usually use 1 cup).

Price: $5.50 for 18 oz.

Available at: KodiakCakes.com, Amazon.com

Birthday Stacks: Haute Cakes Caffe


Three different mouthfeels!

If you’re me, birthday celebrations almost always involve decadence and pancakes. I went to Haute Cakes Caffee, in Newport Beach, with some friends as the second stop in my pancake birthday tour. (The first stop was Nighthawk, obviously.) Haute Cakes, besides having a cute name, offers a variety of tempting pancake options: Buttermilk, Blueberry Cornmeal, Gluten-Free Oatmeal Blueberry, and Orange Ricotta Haute Cakes.

We tried all of them except the plain Buttermilk. People on Yelp rave about the Orange Ricotta Haute Cakes, and I was most excited for those. They were good, but I found the orange flavor overpowering. I also found the consistency inside to be more like a regular pancake, and less like a ricotta pancake. I was expecting a slightly crispier outside and a slightly more moist inside.

The Blueberry Cornmeal pancakes tasted exactly like cornbread, which isn’t a bad thing unless you don’t like cornbread. These were my favorite, but my mouth was continually confused, because I’m not a huge cornbread fan. Apparently it really works for me in pancake form. You should definitely use the generous tab of butter they give you with these for the full cornbread pancake experience.

The Gluten-Free Oatmeal Blueberry Haute Cakes were impressively fluffy for gluten free pancakes and I am all about pancake fluff. I didn’t get a lot of oatmeal flavor in my mouth with these, which was a little disappointing, but these were still solid, well-crafted pancakes.

The Orange Ricotta and Blueberry Cornmeal Cakes were both topped with a medley of blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Sadly, the berries were clearly previously frozen. There is absolutely no reason I would accept for this restaurant to be serving frozen fucking berries. I am pretty sure that even Mel’s Drive-In, the recipient of my worst pancake review, serves their pancakes with fresh berries.

Overall these pancakes were a lot of fun because I was in birthday mode and I get a kick out of ordering extreme quantities of food. Taste-wise they were all good but not great, and my craving for perfectly moist ricotta pancakes is still unfulfilled.

JUST THE STACKS – 7/10 TASTY STACKS

Overall Taste: Good, not exceptional.

Mouthfeel: Three different mouthfeels! Cornbread, gluten-free, and semi-moist ricotta. Yes, these are all mouthfeels.

Size: Appropriately sized, not too big or small.

Presentation: Definitely aesthetically pleasing, especially if you order at least three plates of pancakes. The berry presentation looked nice, I admit, but I can’t get over the fact that they weren’t fresh.

Price: $9.50 – $10.75

Location: 1807 Westcliff Dr, Newport Beach, CA 92660