Whenever Pancake Day comes around, I remember my friend Sarah of the chocolate macarons and the white chocolate, cardamon and rosewater cake. We cooked and hosted many a pancake evening for friends, church small group, and parties. She’d make the pancake batter. I would cook the pancakes. We were the pancake dream team. So you’d understand why, for years, I had no need for a pancake recipe. This was compounded because Sarah never used measurements. “You just mix flour, milk and eggs until it’s just the right consistency.”
Then when I moved to Cambodia five years ago, French Esther was the resident pancake/crepe queen. She followed a recipe of sorts and shared it with me once. I wrote it on the tiles of my kitchen, but when I moved the recipe was wiped away.
Just so that we’re clear. I’m talking about English pancakes here. Not the fluffy North American variety or the Scottish drop scone cousin, Scotch pancakes. On Shrove Tuesday, I’m a fan of the traditional thin, light, slightly crispy, English pancake, drizzled with lemon juice and sprinkled with brown sugar.
Then, last year, after decades of cooking pancakes, suddenly I realised that I did not know how to make the pancake batter and the traditionalist in me wasn’t going to intuitively make them as the others had. So, I looked up Delia and we had pancakes.
Except I chose to use my bamix mixer to make them. Why not? If you have a food processor, it’s much quicker to put all the ingredients into one and process it until you have a smooth batter. It takes a bit longer if you want to do it by hand, using a whisk. I’ve included the instructions, having followed both methods.
In Delia’s original recipe she adds 2 tablespoons of melted butter to the batter. I’ve looked up why one should add butter to the pancake batter. (Sarah nor Esther ever did.) Felicity Cloake tried it and says it gives a better tasting pancake but in the end decided to cook the pancakes in the melted butter rather than adding it to the batter. I have a theory that it’s to use up/add more fat, as Shrove Tuesday is the day to use up fat before the start of Lent. Rather than add butter to the batter, I prefer to use whole milk to add richness. And controversially, perhaps, I eschew cooking the pancakes in any fat. I like to use a small good non-stick frying pan, set it on a moderate heat, swirl in just enough of my batter so that it covers the frying pan and gently cook my pancakes on it until there are bubbles forming on the bottom and it comes away easily from the pan. Flip it over, anyway that you like, cook it on the other side for another minute or two and you’ll have good, thin, crispy English style pancakes. I find by cooking it like this, I rarely have that dud first pancake that has to be thrown away.
Then all you have left to do is choose your favourite toppings, et voila. Munch away.
Here are the pancakes, adapted from Delia, this will make about 14-16 pancakes.
- 110g plain flour
- pinch of salt
- 2 large eggs
- 275ml whole milk
- Put all the ingredients into a food processor or a blender. Blitz up until smooth. Alternatively to make them with a whisk, put the flour and salt in a medium sized bowl. Add in the eggs, as you whisk them in the flour, slowly add the milk until you get a smooth mixture, the consistency of cream. It’s ready to use immediately, or you can leave it to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This also means that you could make the mixture beforehand so that it’s ready for a pancake party.
- Using a small non-stick frying pan, use a moderate to high heat and pour just enough batter into the pan, swirling it around so that it covers the pan. (I’ve linked this to a video but it takes some time to load up.) Gently cook the pancake until small bubbles form on the bottom and it comes away easily from the pan. Flip it over, anyway that you like, cook it on the other side for another minute or two and serve.
- If you want to get started on pancakes before your eating companions arrive, then keep them warm in the oven. I stack them on a plate and cover with foil before putting them in a warm oven, which is set at a low temperature.