Don’t Flip Your Lid over Pancakes!
Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day, 28th February is upon us. For some this can bring sheer terror when the children ask for these and you think you can’t make them very well. Well the good news is you can, particularly with the wealth of cooking accessories available to make it an absolute breeze. You can travel the world on pancakes (wonder if any aspiring blogger has done that?), with different versions in the multitude of countries that serve them. There is the American version which are smaller but thicker (a little like our Scotch Pancakes or drop scones) and often cooked with blueberries or chocolate chips. You may enjoy ‘galettes’ or ‘crepes’ in France, thinner and slightly crispier and closer to our UK version, or okonomiyaki, served in Japan with seafood and a sticky unmentionable sauce.
Whichever way you look at it, pancakes start with a batter, whether it be thin or thick. Without a doubt, the thicker, smaller pancakes or drop scones are the easiest to make – for a start, you are in control of the batter, not the batter bossing you around. You won’t be wrestling with the pan, swirling it around and then breaking your neck to remove it once cooked! As tasty as they are, our English pancakes do take more skill to make sure they end up looking like a pancake on the plate and not a lace doily or a large circular pretzel. Trial and error will normally prevail, but then who wants a plate full of soggy strips of pancake with a few crispy bits thrown in?
Equipment The right equipment plays a big part in serving some tasty, regular shaped pancakes. A good non-stick pan is your best friend, or a flat griddle to sit on top of the cooker over a couple of rings so that you can make more of the American version in one go. Other helpful items are:
• A sturdy bowl with a silicone base (to stop it sliding around) with very useful measure marks on the inside in both cups and litres. A strong handle and pouring spout also makes life so easy for pouring the batter and not slopping it everywhere. Alternatively, an actual ‘batter dispenser’ which will only dispense the right amount of batter at a time.
• A good strong whisk with a strong handle (silicone handles are good to grip too).
• Now the crux of the matter and what most people have fear or – flipping pancakes. No need to fear if you have a flexible pancake turner, which will enable you to flip and not slip! Nobody wants pancakes stuck to the ceiling or the floor.
Many companies sell ‘pancake packages’ so you can buy all necessary and effortless equipment for a good price all at the same time, and they can be useful for making all other kinds of dishes. Check out the Oxo Good Grips range, really sturdy and reliable and very user friendly, ever for pancake haters!
Easy Basic Pancake Batter
This recipe is for the English version, normally served with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of caster sugar, or chocolate sauce. Try them with some burst blueberries or diced strawberries to make them that little bit ‘healthier’. This version is an adaptation of the doyenne of all things sweet and savoury, Mary Berry.
Serves: 12 thin pancakes
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: Around 1½ minutes per pancake
125g plain flour
1 egg and 1 yolk
A little vegetable oil, or melted butter
Method: Sift 125g plain flour into a bowl and make a well in the middle. Whisk together one egg, one egg yolk and a little milk taken from the 300ml, then pour into the well. Whisk with a little of the flour.
Gradually whisk in half of the remaining milk, drawing in the rest of the flour a little at a time, to make a smooth batter. Add remaining milk, stir. Cover and leave to stand for about 30 minutes.
Heat the frying pan and brush with a little melted butter or oil.
Ladle 2 or 3tbsp of batter into the pan and gently tilt the pan to spread the batter evenly.
Cook the pancake over a medium-high heat for 45-60 seconds until small holes appear on the surface. Check the underside is lightly browned and the edge has started to curl. Loosen the pancake and turn it over by tossing or flipping it. Cook the other side for about 30 seconds until golden. Slide the pancake out of the pan and onto a warm plate.
Heat and lightly grease the pan again before making the next pancake. Serve the pancakes as they are made, or stack them on a plate and reheat before serving. (If the pancakes are hot when you stack them they will not stick together; there is no need to interleave them with greaseproof paper.)
Pancake Tuesday February 28th