Ferna, Magnolia, Maya, Queen, or White King: Our Local Pancake Mix Taste TestApril 15, 2019
Soft and fluffy with a subtle sweetness that makes them as suitable with cheese or bacon as they are with fruit and cream, pancakes are one of the best-loved ways to start the day on the right note. But with the measuring and mixing entailed in making them, it’s not necessarily the fastest or most convenient. Enter pancake mix: packaged mixes that have the necessary dry ingredients measured out, thus helping cut down on prep time and (theoretically) assuring you of delicious results. Locally, you’ll find a number of versions from various Philippine brands, but how do the resulting flapjacks compare?
Note: we narrowed down the selection to the regular or default variant of each brand’s pancake mix—specifically, those that call for eggs, fat, and liquid (as opposed to the other popular pancake mix variation that only calls for water). Each mix was prepared and cooked according to package instructions; we made sure to follow the exact measurements and ingredients called for per brand.
These packs from baking company Ferna come in smaller 200g boxes (versus the others’ 400-500g), which is great for when you’re looking to feed just 1-2 people at a time. It makes for a thick, heavy batter that can feel almost like that of pound cake. Likewise, it cooks up to give you flapjacks that are tall, thick, and relatively dense (in particular, it reminds us of imagawayaki, a.k.a. those streetside “Japanese pancakes”). While it does come on the sweet side with caramelized notes, it’s flavorful enough that you can enjoy it straight up—even sans butter or syrup.
Sweetness: 4/5 | Softness: 3/5 | Thickness: 5/5
Magnolia gives you pancakes that are just moderate in thickness, but delightfully fluffy with a quickbread-esque coarse crumb. As it cooks, it exudes a vanilla-y aroma; and while the said vanilla comes across as artificial, it lends these pancakes a cookie-like character when coupled with the mildly toasty, caramelized-y flavors. Mid-level in sweetness with a hint of salt toward the end, it’s tasty both with or without your syrup of choice.
Sweetness: 3/5 | Softness: 3.5/5 | Thickness: 3/5
Maya’s pancakes take on a lighter hue and come on the thick side (just second to Ferna’s). Compared to the latter brand however, they’re distinctively more delicate, with an airy, fluffy crumb that make for ethereal bites. Past an odd metallic note (which isn’t too noticeable unless you look for it), they’re not too sweet on their own. Should you want them sweeter, we recommend dusting over powdered sugar than pouring on syrup, as the latter can easily drown the pancakes given their lightness.
Sweetness: 2.5/5 | Softness: 5/5 | Thickness: 4/5
This brand calls for a much higher ratio of liquid to dry mix (almost twice the amount of water, fat, and egg to the same amount of mix) compared to the other brands. Predictably, you get much thinner, flatter pancakes (our culinary director amusingly likens them to “thick crepes”) that are soft but have a slightly gummy consistency. That it’s barely sweet could’ve worked to its advantage, if not for the strong baking soda-y metallic taste present. If anything, its elasticity lets you use these for roll-ups or any other application that call for folded or rolled pancakes as the base.
Sweetness: 1/5 | Softness: 3/5 | Thickness: 2/5
Whereas the other brands just call for oil, White King calls for margarine (as with their brownies, they specify the Selecta Butterfresh brand, which we could not find but for which we subbed in Magnolia Buttercup). The resulting pancakes definitely taste of margarine, which isn’t to our liking, but we love that it’s just barely sweet. It browns easier, likely due to the milk solids in the margarine, and takes on a consistency that’s still fluffy, but slightly dryer and sturdier, with a shorter, more cotton-like crumb that lets it absorb syrup without disintegrating into mush.
Sweetness: 3/5 | Softness: 2.5/5 | Thickness: 3/5
The Verdict: Maya
Torn as we were between Ferna’s and Maya’s versions (notably for their thickness), Maya ultimately was the biggest hit for us on the team, winning us over with its lighter, softer feel and milder flavor. Should you want pancakes that are close in fluffiness but slightly heavier and more flavorful, go for Magnolia.