I grew up on Pancakes. When my mum was carrying me in her womblet, she (and my dad and, strangely, many other of our family members) worked at a Pancake House in Manchester. She’d carry plates the size of Jupiter to hungry Pancake munchers while I was rolling around hungrily inside of her.
When I eventually arrived and was old enough to eat Pancakes, but not the lollipops you got for finishing your hugantic plate of pancake covered in sugar – because they’re bad for your teeth – I ate tonnes of them. Even after the family had all left and moved on, the restaurant had closed down and consequently the picture of me ploughing my way through a pancake taken down, we still had pancakes for breakfast, lunch and tea, at sleepovers, birthdays and of course on Pancake Day.
So I feel a sort of special affinity with pancakes that I now feel impelled to share. And, as I discovered on New Year’s Day, Pancakes are immense with Champagne. Truly, they’re spectacular. So below is my easy peasy lemon squeezy guide to Pancakes:
1. The batter:
There’s plenty of convoluted recipes for pancake batter out there, but really what you want is a batter that can be made with what’s in the cupboard – that’s the whole point of Shrove Tuesday, after all. So this batter is a foolproof, simple batter and it calls for:
Equal measures of: Eggs, Plain Flour & Milk.
You might want to add a splash of milk if your batter is gloopy rather than runny, but otherwise that really is it.
Just whisk together your eggs and milk and then gradually add the flour until it’s all combined. Couldn’t be simpler.
2. The pan:
The batter is easy, the pan is a little more complicated. Non-stick is ideal, but you know what? I put my non-stick pan in the dishwasher and so now it’s fucked. There’s an easy way around it. Make sure your pan is clean and then rub olive oil in to it with a bit of kitchen-roll. Rub it in all over like a good moisturiser until the pan is glossy and shimmering. There shouldn’t be any excess oil so if it’s dripping wipe it away. The pan is now ready to cook perfect pancakes. Keep your oily kitchen roll as you should wipe the pan between Pancakes.
3. Cooking and flipping:
With pancakes, like when you make Yorkshire Puds, you need a HOT pan. You also need to move quickly. Once the oil is hot ladle, or pour, enough batter in to the pan to coat the bottom (swirl it around the pan to coat the bottom if necessary). Then leave the batter to cook. Don’t try to move it or shake it. Just leave it for a minute or so until the edges begin the come away from the sides of the pan.
Then gently tease the edge of the pancake and steal a look at the underside (oo err) if it appears cooked (golden brown) then give the pan a shake and the pancake should come loose. Now you’re ready to flip.
Tease the pancake to the edge of the pan by shaking it. Then – with your arm stretched out – pull back and FLIP! To flip the required hand action is a bit like whipping off a plaster: starting low and whipping upwards quickly. … and CATCH the pancake in the pan. Good hand-eye coordination is needed here and lots PRACTICE! I haven’t dropped a pancake since I was about seven, but until then I’d dropped plenty. The five second rule does apply, so be quick.
Once the pancake’s flipped it’ll need another minute or so – lift the edge to check if the pancake is done (it’ll appear less cooked than the other side but should be slightly browned when it’s done).
To serve: slide the pancake on to a plate and ‘voila’. That’s it.
4. The toppings:
Having spent many an afternoon in the pancake restaurant where my parents worked I know a few variations – but really, they depend on individual taste. Savoury pancakes might consist of bacon, cheese and sweetcorn, whereas a sweet pancake will be more likely to be topped with ice cream, castor or icing sugar and lemon, but really, the possibilities are endless.
For me: maple syrup, bacon, blueberries and lemon. Yep, sweet and savoury. For my boar friend: lemon and sugar, an old classic. For my brother: chocolate spread, jam, crumbled cookies, sugar, ice cream…anything sweet he can get his hands on, to be honest. Be creative.
5. The beverage:
Tea – if it’s first thing in the morning and it’s a weekday tea is a perfect companion. I’d opt for something light, like an Earl Grey, but Breakfast tea will do just as well.
Beer – you can put this in your batter too, instead of milk – if you’re having boys to tea and if you’re having it with Cornish ice-cream, or maple syrup beer is your best bet.
Champagne – if you want it to cut through the richness of butter, or cheese or to balance with the sweetness of heaps of sugar and the acidity of lemon juice. Champagne’s great with pancakes and I bet it’d be great in pancakes…Pancakes