I’ve called this recipe “Proper British Pancakes” so they are not confused with the fluffy american kind or the more lacey french crepe. These basic pancakes are perfect at any time of the year but are especially traditional on Shrove Tuesday or ‘Pancake Day’ as we Brits like to call it.
Whilst ‘Pancake Day’ is the day on which you effectively must cook and eat these pancakes, I am a firm believer that pancakes are for the everyday, not just for former religious holidays. I use them for multiple sweet and savoury dishes. The classic favourite is just to top with sugar or golden syrup but I equally love to use them as a wrap with bacon and eggs (shocker) or in place of tortillas or pasta in a layered bake such as my Chicken and Chorizo Mexican ‘Lasagne’.
The good news is that Proper Pancakes are not nearly as difficult as Blue Peter Presenters have made out over the years. Not even close in fact. Watching them screw it up is however still quite funny….
The first rule of pancakes is to back the hell away from those mixes that now line every supermarket and convenience shop from late January until Shrove Tuesday. They’re just very expensive flour and a bit of dried egg. You only need 4 things to make pancakes (plus any toppings) – Plain Flour, Eggs, Milk and Salt. The recipe is in fact basically the same as for Yorkshire Puddings. It also takes 2 minutes to make the batter and a little patience to batch cook.
The big, apparently unanswerable, question always appears to be “Why does the first pancake never work?” or its variation “Why do you always have to throw the first pancake away?” These questions baffle me. Firstly, I’ve never had to throw my first pancake away – it is not a given and secondly, the answer to the question is blindingly obvious – the pan is not hot enough. Heat the pan more before starting. This is not one of the ‘big questions’ folks!
You can make these simple pancakes in advance for a larger group and keep them warm in the oven on low or heaven forbid, give them a quick nuke in the microwave before serving.
Serves 2 (Makes 6 Pancakes)
4 heaped tbsp Plain Flour
1 tsp Sea Salt Flakes
150 ml (Skimmed) Milk
- A few lumps in the batter are not the end of the world, don’t stress about it.
- Many recipes will tell you to leave the mixture to ‘rest’. You can do – there is no problem preparing the batter in advance but I’m yet to establish any actuall benefit of leaving it.
- After mixing, you can transfer the batter to a jug for easy pouring, otherwise make sure you have a ladle handy.
- I use regular medium sized frying pan to make my pancakes – always non-stick. You can of course purchase a specialised pancake pan* which has shallower sides but unless you only otherwise own non-non-stick pans, I’m not sure they’re worth the storage space.
- Wait until the pan is properly hot before starting – see my above rant for the reasons why!
- If the pan is still a little too hot and the batter starts to cook through before it has spread to the pan edges, hold the pan away from the heat until the batter has spread then return to the heat.
Measure 4 heaped tbsp Plain Flour into a medium mixing bowl and add 1 tsp Sea Salt Flakes.
Crack 2 Eggs into the flour and add a little of the 150 ml (Skimmed) Milk. Whisk together to form a thick paste – try to beat out as many of the lumps as possible – the thicker the mix is at this point, the easier it is to get the lumps out.
Add the rest of the milk a little at a time until all combined.
Take a small frying pan and put onto a high heat until it is just starting to smoke then turn the heat down to medium.
Spray 3/4 sprays of Frylight into the pan, trying to coat the whole surface.
Take a ladleful of batter and pour into the centre of the pan with your dominant hand whilst starting to swirl the batter around the pan with your other hand.
When the batter is no longer liquid on top of the pancake (only 30 second of so), use a flat spatula to gently tease the pancake away from the pan. It is ready to flip once the pancake can be shaken around the pan loosely.
Flip the pancake – you can either do this by practicing throwing the pancake up in the air and catching it or if you’re not trying to show off, use the fish slice.
Give the pancake another 30 second or so on the second side then put onto a plate and serve.
Repeat with the rest of the batter until all of it is used up.
The classic topping is sugar and lemon but go to town with whatever you fancy. Nutella anyone?
Let me know what your favourite pancake topping is in the comments!
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