Pancake Day


English: Pancake in frying pan.

Image via Wikipedia

Shrove Tuesday is Pancake Day.  This day always creates a heated debate in our household.  The debate isn’t related to why we have the day, or why we celebrate it.  The debate always centers around the best recipe for the batter and the best way of cooking it.  They are always good-natured arguments but the passion behind each side of the debate proves how popular pancakes are in our household.

You have two choices for preparing your batter.  Either make your own batter or buy one of the pancake mix kits that are readily available in the shops.  The kits are quite good as long as you follow the instructions and are a great time saver if you’re in a hurry.  Generally you just need to add milk, give it a shake, let it stand for a bit then use it.  We tried one the other year and the results were OK.  Personally I don’t think you can beat the satisfaction that comes from having made your own, and I think the taste is a lot nicer.  If you’ve got children it’s also a fun thing to do and so simple for them to make – assuming you don’t end up in a food fight, that can get messy very quickly.

A basic batter consists of

Usually you’re aiming for equal weight of flour and milk with an egg.  There are so many variations available, some regions have great pride in their specific recipe.  Some add melted butter or oil, probably for a richer batter, some add sugar and some replace part of the milk with water.

My advice is to find a recipe you like and go with that.  You can also use either white or wholemeal flour to make the batter.

Preparation:

  1. Add the egg(s) to the milk
  2. Gradually add the flour
  3. Beat as you go to make a smooth batter
  4. Let the batter settle for about 30 minutes in the fridge before using it (there is science behind this)

Some people put the flour through a sieve first, this isn’t necessary.  It doesn’t matter if there are some lumps in the batter.

Method:

I think pancakes cook better in butter using a non-stick frying pan, you can use oil if you want to.  They need cooking on a high heat but not so hot that the butter will burn.  It’s better to test the pan with a small drop of batter before cooking your first pancake.  If it drops into the pan and starts to sizzle and brown then you know you’re ready.  If it doesn’t begin to set or sizzle then the pan isn’t hot enough.

We use a ladle to measure out a portion of batter.  Pour into the pan making sure the base is covered, give it a minute or two to cook on one side then flip it over.  If you can’t toss the pancake then use a spatula to turn it over.  If you are going to try tossing the pancakes make sure you’ve plenty of batter just in case.  This is probably the most fun part about cooking them and everyone will want to have a go.  You’ll know when the pancake is ready to turn because the batter on the top side will be starting to set. You can also use a fork to lift the edge of the pancake to have a look.  Stack them on a warm plate as they’re cooked (using greaseproof paper to separate them) or fill and fold/roll before serving.

Our debate doesn’t just center around the batter or the method.  We’ve also progressed the argument to the type of filling or topping used.  The most vocal argument centers around the classic sugar & lemon verses syrup.  The thing about pancakes is they’re so versatile and so simple to make, you can have almost anything with them.  It all depends on taste, they can be sweet or savoury, fruity or nutty.  There are no rules or etiquette that I’m aware of regarding pancakes so there’s lots of flexibility.  Sometimes it’s easier to allow for a variety of fillings and let people fill their own pancakes.

Our favourites include …..

  • Sugar and Lemon – the classic sprinkling of sugar with a squeeze of lemon
  • Golden Syrup – drizzling of golden syrup
  • Maple Syrup
  • Caramelized Apple – heat some sugar in butter till it starts to caramelize then add slices of apple, stir to coat in the caramelized sugar and warm to soften the apple then serve
  • Chocolate – melted in a bowl over boiling water, stir in some butter till smooth and spread on pancake
  • Fresh Fruit with or without a Syrup

You may have noticed from that list that we have a sweet tooth.  Sometimes the debate spills over into how the pancake should be presented – should it be rolled or folded?  Some people prefer it one way to the other but it also depends on the filling.  I believe that it is your personality that determines this – are you a roller or a folder? What do you like in your pancakes?

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