This section is from the book "Experimental Cookery From The Chemical And Physical Standpoint", by Belle Lowe. Also available from Amazon: Experimental cookery.
Griddle cakes are partially leavened by steam, but some baking powder is necessary. Both the proportion of flour and baking powder can be altered to secure a thin or a moist thick cake. For example, the consistency of the batter made by using 1 1/3 cups of flour to a cup of liquid can be changed by increasing the baking powder. As the quantity of powder is increased the batter becomes increasingly stiffer so that the griddle cakes are less moist, more porous and tender, and of greater volume. Adding 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of powder to 1 1/3 cups of flour gives desirable cakes. This is a rather large amount of baking powder, but thin batters do not retain the gas as well as stiff ones, nor is air incorporated by creaming or by folding in beaten egg white. The kind of baking powder, i.e., one that reacts slowly or rapidly at room temperature, does not seem to affect the results, unless the batter has to stand for a long time before it is cooked. If this is necessary, a larger quantity of rapid-acting baking powder may be used.
The greater the proportion of flour used to liquid, the less the batter should be beaten in order to have a tender cake. With the very stiff batters, the mixing should be continued only until the dry ingredients have barely disappeared. Over-mixing gives a soggy texture, which is apt to contain tunnels. The texture with over-mixing seems to be about the same regardless of the type of baking powder used.
If colored oil or melted fat is used in griddle cakes and waffles the distribution of the fat can be easily seen. It is dispersed in the uncooked batter as small spheres that are large enough to be seen without the aid of a microscope. With the concentration of fat used in these fairly thin batters, this dispersion occurs by stirring the melted fat or oil into the batter and is the same whether the fat is added first or last. After cooking, a portion of the fat is found in pools or absorbed on the surface of the cell walls of the cooked product.
If 2 or more tablespoons of oil or fat for each cup of liquid are added to the batter, the griddle cakes can be baked without greasing the griddle iron. This is an advantage, for it does away with the fumes of smoking fat while cooking the griddle cakes. Practically all iron skillets and frying pans can be used in this way. Much depends upon the heating of frying pan and griddle in preventing sticking of the batter. If they are too hot they stick as readily or more so than if they are not hot enough. Often they are not heated uniformly, being too hot in some portions and too cold in others. This is likely to happen when a large griddle is placed over a small flame.