Monday 20 February 2012

Ocado discovers the formula behind the perfect pancake toss

 Who would have guessed ? There's a scientific formula for being the perfect tosser ... of pancakes ! I'll be back in a moment with some pancake recipes from Ocado but in the meantime, here's a bit of silliness to get you in the mood for tomorrow !


ONLINE SUPERMARKET Ocado has cracked more than eggs ahead of Shrove Tuesday. Teaming up with one of the country’s top physicists, the innovative grocer has mastered the art of perfect pancake tossing.
With more batter expected to hit ceilings than the roofs of our mouths this Pancake Day, Ocado has created the ideal equation for a flippin’ good time. Working with Dr Mark Hadley, researcher at the University of Warwick’s Department of Physics, the formula behind the year’s trickiest culinary feat is:
, ,
Where v is the launch velocity; g is the acceleration; h, the height of the toss; a is the length of the forearm; w, the spin; is the number of pancake half turns; and p, the pan diameter
Don’t be daunted by the science though. Ocado has simplified things, claiming that the recipe for a splat-free landing rests on one key element - ‘perfect pancake altitude’. When tossed at the right height, the pancake’s launch velocity and spin are perfectly matched – much like a topping of lemon and sugar - for optimum results.
For a typical toss, Ocado suggests you aim for a pancake height of 0.5 metres. Your upwards arm swing will naturally give the pancake a velocity of 3m/sec, imparting a spin of five radians per second, resulting in a successful travel time of just over half a second, before landing safely back in the pan. 

Ocado has created three toss techniques with Dr Hadley to ensure there is a flip for everyone - from the pancake showboater to the harassed host cooking crepes for a cast of thousands.

·         The Show Off This mammoth two-armed throw is suitable for those looking to wow a crowd, or cooks wielding a cast iron pan. With arms outstretched and swinging from the shoulder, one should aim for a height of 0.7 metres
·         The Chef This quick, efficient toss is ideal for pancake connoisseurs. Whilst holding the pan near the rim, with just a flick of the wrist this toss will require a height of just over half a foot. 16cm to be precise.
·          The Hungry Horde Many mouths to feed? Avoid over-exertion and a nasty case of ‘pancake elbow’ with this toss. The upper arm hardly moves as the forearm swings upwards from the elbow. The distance from the elbow to the centre of the pan is typically 60cm; to achieve the perfect toss time after time, one should aim for a height of 0.47 metres, to be exact.

But what’s the real secret? Dr Hadley flips pancake convention on its head and brings it down to size: “The trick is to break the air pressure. To achieve the perfect flip, one must restrict the size of the pancake. The traditional Ocado pancake recipe provides the ideal consistency to retain a suitable thickness which will combat the impact of air pressure, whilst also being light enough to toss.”
When it comes to cooking up a pancake storm, be sure to follow Ocado’s fundamental tips so the finished article is ready for a terrific toss:

·         Lubrication Use one teaspoon of oil to ensure the pancake does not stick, yet isn’t too lubricated, resulting in ‘pancake slip’

·         Cooking time Cook the pancake until it bubbles and blisters, to roughen the bottom surface. This allows the air to rapidly fill any void under the pancake and equalise the pressure

·         Circumference Make it manageable - for bigger pancakes, the area increases much faster than the air can creep in. By increasing a pancake from 10cm to 30cm diameter, it becomes three times harder to toss

·         The Strength Test Use a spatula to lift the edge of the pancake – if you can lift it 2cm away from the pan, then it is strong enough to toss

Jason Gissing, co-founder of Ocado comments: “Ocado strives to deliver more than a just broad range of groceries; we want to make people’s lives easier where their kitchens are concerned. As such, we’re proud to work with a diverse range of experts and suppliers to provide fun, new and exciting ways to celebrate the country’s tastiest occasions.”
For further information on Ocado pancake recipes and ingredients, visit

Other blogposts you may be interested in :
Pancake Day recipes from FryLight
Mrs Crimble's Pancake Mix review
Celebrate Pancake Day Without The Guilt With Splenda

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