Trader Joe’s Pancake Bread Review: Does it taste like pancakes?

I was just trying to buy my usual groceries – you know, oatmeal and cranberry dunkers, a bottle or two of Thai curry sauce, a bag of frozen gyoza – when something caught my eye as I was queuing. I know Trader Joe’s does this on purpose: placing delectable items to peruse while you wait to checkout, knowing full well that pancake bread is going to flag you down and ask to be taken home with you. It definitely worked on me.

I heard rumors about this cult bakery product on the Internet and I admit I was curious: is it fluffy like a pancake or fluffy or dense like a pound cake? Does it taste like maple syrup or pancake syrup? How buttery is it? Will I never need a stack of pancakes again? I needed answers.

Pancake bread is undoubtedly a brilliant invention. It’s a bread cake – certainly more like a pound cake, coffee cake, or banana bread – that’s topped with a brown sugar and cinnamon crumble. Trader Joe’s advertises it as “a twist on a short buttermilk stack,” and it certainly tastes like a denser, cakier version of the fluffy pancakes you know and love from your favorite restaurant. Although it was a little crumbly when slicing it, the cake itself was so moist and tender, and each bite was infused with the true taste of pancake syrup, without being nauseatingly sweet. The flavor also reminded me of favorite cereals from my childhood, like Honey Smacks and Honey Combs (although the bread does not contain honey).

I know the whole point of getting pancake bread is capturing the spirit of buttermilk pancakes in a well-wrapped, portable loaf, without having to make a batter or set up a griddle. That being said, I really think toasting slices of this pancake bread in butter or popping it in a toaster would make it an even better snack. An ideal scenario would also include toppings of fresh whipped cream, caramelized bananas, or fresh berries.

The only minor complaint I have about TJ’s Pancake Bread is that the crumble on top was a bit sparse; it could have done more. My particular loaf didn’t have enough big chunks of sugar, butter, and flour, and we all know that crispy toppings are pretty much the best part of any coffee or crispy cake.

Overall though, Trader Joe’s Pancake Bread is a huge hit. The dense texture is very welcome, the delicious flavor is reminiscent of lazy weekend mornings, and the $3.99 price tag is enough to get me off my dry mixes and casseroles for good. If you spot a loaf of these in the baked goods section on your next trip to Trader Joe’s, be sure to pick one up to completely change your breakfasts and snacks.

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