Its Shrove Tuesday aka Pancake Day! One of my favourite days of the year. Yes, I know I can have pancakes at any time throughout the year but there is something special about having a day dedicated to pancakes.
They really are the simplest things to make. I find it astonishing that people will buy those awful pre-made pancake mixes when its so easy to make them from scratch. You will probably have the ingredients for a basic pancake mix in your cupboards and in your fridge. All you need is some flour, butter, milk and eggs. Then you can do whatever you like with them. You can have savoury or sweet pancakes. Personally I love the classic sugar and lemon pancakes best.
For the pancake mix:
140g plain flour, sifted
pinch of salt
200ml/7fl oz milk mixed with 75ml/3fl oz water
Simply sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl with a sieve held high above the bowl so the flour gets an airing.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and break the eggs into it.
Then begin whisking the eggs – any sort of whisk or even a fork will do – incorporating any bits of flour from around the edge of the bowl as you do so.
Next gradually add small quantities of the milk and water mixture, still whisking (don’t worry about any lumps as they will eventually disappear as you whisk).
When all the liquid has been added, the batter should be smooth, with the consistency of thin cream.
Now melt the butter in a pan. Spoon 2 tbsp of it into the batter and whisk it in, then pour the rest into a bowl and use it to lubricate the pan, using some kitchen paper to smear it round before you make each pancake.
Traditionally, people would say to place the batter in the fridge for 30 mins, to allow the starch in the flour to swell, but lots of recipes don’t mention that now. I still did it though.
Now get the frying pan really hot, then turn the heat down to medium and, to start with, do a test pancake to see if you’re using the correct amount of batter. I used a ladle but I didn’t need to fill it full. It was probably about 5tbsp and I was using a 23cm/9in pain. About 2 tbsp is about right for an 18cm/7in pan. I would suggest using a ladle though, so it can be poured into the hot pan in one go.
As soon as the batter hits the hot pan, tip it around from side to side to get the base evenly coated with batter. It should take only a minute or so to cook; you can lift the edge with a spatula or palette knife to see if it’s golden brown.
Flip the pancake over, either with a spatula or you can try tossing it with the pan. The other side will need a few seconds only – then simply slide it out of the pan onto a plate.
To serve, I personally love sprinkling each pancake with freshly squeezed lemon juice and caster sugar then I fold them over twice. Then I sprinkled with a little more sugar and lemon juice.
I also like to serve them with Nutella. I spread a heaped teaspoon on the pancake while its still in the pan then fold it over and serve. Or you can drizzle some maple syrup over the top, although I prefer golden syrup. Or melt chocolate sauce over them and slice some bananas on top and serve with ice cream. You can do anything you like.
If you want a whole evening of pancakes, you can of course make savoury pancakes. It’s the same basic pancake recipe but once you’ve flipped the pancake over once, just add your ingredients and fold over.
In this instance I’ve gone for a ham and cheese pancake. Simply sprinkle over some grated cheese…
Add the ham…
Fold over and continue cooking on a low heat until the cheese is melted, being careful not to burn the pancake itself.
Slide onto a plate and enjoy!