Pancakes are delicious, quick, reliable food for which you always have the right ingredients in your cupboard says Sophie Hart-Walsh
Nobody would ever turn down a pancake. Nobody would ever be disappointed by a pancake on their plate, apart from sometimes John Torode and Greg Wallace (and even then only if one of them has already said “buttery biscuit base” that episode.FFS).
Let’s not mess around, pancakes are a great unifying force for good. Practically every country in the world makes their own. You could make a comprehensive culinary world tour simply by devoting yourself to the pancakes dreamed up on each continent. Okonomiyaki, Johnnycakes, drop scones, dosas, dutch babys. Plaatkoekies, ponnukaken, panqueques. Blinis, blintzes, Chaatamari, rishiki. All good, simple compelling uses for flour, eggs and milk that you would never say no to. Pancakes are beloved by all the world. America even invented an automated pancake machine that delivered you little pads of fried batter on a conveyer belt! Classic Uncle Sam.
The recipe for traditional pancakes I had as a child and have made myself each year to signify a Lenten fast that I don’t observe, is ingrained in my memory forever. As if it’s some kind of family motto. We never went through the ritual, as you are supposed to, in order to use up the last of the fat before Lent. We weren’t religious, and we lived for fat! We do it because it’s nostalgic, ceremonial, delicious and the alchemy of turning every day staples (what could be more individually boring than flour) into crunchy, crispy, soft, warming, buttery sugary wonderment never fails to entertain. After the unrelenting misery of January in Britain I feel we have surely earned it.
A simple pancake recipe to have up your sleeve
(Serves 8-10 pancakes depending on taste)
- 8oz flour (plain)
- 1 pint milk
- 2 eggs
- pinch salt
- butter (for frying)
- non-stick frying pan (treat yourself)
– Mixing –
*Mix flour and salt in bowl – create flour-free void in bowl. Crack the eggs into this void.
*Whisk eggs allowing small amount of flour to get involved.
*Gradually incorporate more and more flour to the mix all the while balancing thickness with milk, a bit at a time.
*Create pleasingly thick (viscous) substance. Pourable, but has a certain weight about it. Whisk lots to make bubbles. Let stand alone for a bit. You can leave it to stand as long as you need. (Some people would even have you believe that delaying pancake frying time represents a vast improvement in batter quality. These people are masochists.)
– Frying –
*Melt a bit of butter in a hot pan on a medium heat with a tiny bit of oil to stop it burning
*Add ladleful of batter if you like an elegant almost lacy crepe that starts crisping up at the edges. Add another 0.5-1 ladleful if you like a thick flabby pancake that fills your mouth like expanding foam and makes it hard to breathe. The culinary equivalent of being suffocated by bosom.
*Coat the pan evenly.
*LET IT COOK. DON’T TOUCH OR PROD WITH SPATULA IN OBSESSIVE MANNER. You will have to exercise considerable restraint. The first one is always slow and not an easy few minutes for a neurotic cook.
*Shake the pan a bit. You can flip the pancake when it slides around the pan independently, ie not when you need to pry it up with a spatula.
– Flipping –
* Channel your inner Julia Child and find “the courage of your convictions”. Shufty the pancake down to the edge of the pan then jolt the pan out, up and back toward you in a quick fluid motion to catch the airborne pancake on its return.
– Fillings –
*Eat only with lemon and sugar. There is literally nothing better. The original is the best. Keep your nutella to yourself you monster.
* Repeat this process (frying-flipping-filling) for each pancake.
– Other Options –
*If you really can’t handle a crepe and it is your fiercely held belief that pancakes are 1cm thick and come in a stack from an American Diner then 1) free your mind and 2) make use of Jamie Oliver’s very easy and very rewarding recipe. All you need is 1 cup to take equal measurements of everything.
*If you want to eat pancakes as your principal meal but can’t bear the sugary carb shame, Nigella Lawson makes a pancake that is slightly greener, contains added protein and doesn’t require you to shut yourself off from all the flipping fun.