The viscosity of batter may range from very "stiff" (adhering to an upturned spoon), to very "thin" (similar to single cream). Heat is applied to the batter, usually by frying, baking or steaming, in order to cook the ingredients (thus rendering them palatable) and to "set" the batter into a solid form. Batters may be sweet or savoury, often with either sugar or salt being added (sometimes both). Many other flavourings such as herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables may also be added to the mixture.
The word 'batter' comes from the old French word 'battre' which means 'to beat' , as many batters require vigorous beating or whisking in their preparation.
Batters may be used to make crepes, dosais, idlis, vadais, Yorkshire pudding, fritters, doughnuts, hushpuppies, tempura, cakes, some breads, to coat meat or vegetables when frying, or to make pancakes, waffles or some cookies.
Non-alcoholic beers can be used to batter foods which is common in family restaurants. Often times, the purpose of battering foods with beer is to provide a healthy and hearty barley or wheat flavor to the food. The concept of beer battering is not only popular in America, but throughout Europe, Russia, and the Middle-East. When foods are beer battered and fried (fish, chips, onion rings, etc...), the alcohol diminishes, as the heat generated by the frying process evaporates any and all alcohol.
Watching a woman make Russian pancakes, you might think that she was calling on the spirits or extracting from the batter the philosopher’s stone.