It’s that time of year again when the nation stocks up on lemon, sugar, syrup and Nutella all in preparation for the tastiest Tuesday of the year – Pancake Day! Get set for the tradition with our guide to the perfect pancakes, whether you like them thin and crispy or thick, fluffy and piled high! The thinner variety are more traditional on this side of the Atlantic whereas in the USA, you can expect a stack of fat pancakes. Whichever you choose, our easy pancake recipes are ideal for anyone, from basic bakers to master chefs. Follow this and we promise your pancakes won’t get stuck to the pan or, worse again, to the ceiling!
Now for a look at how this all began. Feel free to skip right on if you’re eager to get cooking. Pans at the ready!
When is Pancake Day, and Why Pancakes?
Shrove Tuesday lands 47 days before Easter and this year that’s Tuesday 13th February. But what’s up with the pancakes? Well, with 40 days of lent coming up, traditionally it was the day to use up all the good stuff. The last chance to go big and gorge on all your eggs, flour, sugar, butter and milk and anything sweet you had lying around. In some areas of the world it’s known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, and is the same day as Carnival (the last chance to party). With names like that, we think it’s okay to forget those New Year resolutions or diet plans just for one day. It’s a time-honoured tradition, after all. No one will notice – they’ll be too busy stuffing their faces too!
English Style Pancakes
256 g flour
8 g sugar roughly (optional but I would recommend)
Pinch of salt
2 egg yolks (can replace with one whole egg)
500 ml milk
30 ml vegetable oil
- Add the flour, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl and combine. Slip in the egg and egg yolks, followed by the milk and half the vegetable oil. Whisk to mix and remove any lumps.
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan, or even in the microwave, and pour into the mix. Get whisking again until it’s all nice and smooth. At this point, leave your mixture to rest for about 10 minutes.
- Heat your frying pan (ideally 8 inch but bigger is fine) until it’s hot. Add the rest of the vegetable oil and make sure it spreads to coat the pan. When the oil is hot enough, pour out any excess into a bowl or mug. You should be left with a nice coating on the pan that will prevent sticking. Removing the excess is important – you don’t want to flip anything when there’s hot oil involved!
- The mix meets the pan. This is the big moment when you’ll know if your mix is up to scratch. You’re aiming to add roughly 30 ml for each pancake. Tilt the pan to ensure an even spread. Cook until the bottom is golden brown (you’ll develop a sense for this by about your fifth).
- Now, get ready for the flip (see below for tips) or just use a spatula to turn it over and cook the other side.
- Slide the pancake onto a plate. Repeat the process – each one will be better than the last!
– Prepare the mixture in advance and take it straight to the pan.
– Trick your family and friends into helping by letting them cook and flip a pancake each.
– Have all your toppings ready to go before the first lot of batter hits the pan. The pancakes are best eaten right away.
On the flip side…
American Style Pancakes
135 g plain flour
15 g baking powder
A pinch of salt
16 g caster sugar
130 ml milk
1 large egg
30 g butter
- Add the flour, baking powder, salt and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and egg.
- Melt the butter and add to the milk and egg. Whisk to combine completely then pour into the flour mixture and whisk some more. The lumps should disappear quite quickly to leave a thick, smooth batter. Leave it to rest for a few minutes.
- Heat a pan over a medium heat and add the butter when it’s hot. Wait for the butter to melt and tilt the pan to coat the bottom.
- Grab your ladle. Scoop out some batter and add it to the pan. American style pancakes are small, thick and fluffy, so you might be able to fit more than one in if your pan is big enough. Your mixture might seem thick and gloopy but this is exactly what you’re aiming for!
- Let the pancake cook until the top starts to bubble. Turn it over with a spatula or flip it (see below for tips). Be careful if you’re flipping more than one at the same time!
- Keep going until you’ve used up all your batter. Stack your pancakes on a plate, add syrup and dig in!
– Add mashed banana to the milk, egg and butter bowl to make banana pancakes.
– These thick pancakes work really well with ice cream.
– They’re deceptively filling.
- Hold the pan firmly in two hands, one hand if you’re brave enough.
- Arch your wrists, so they’re pointing towards the pan and the floor. Keep an eye on the floor, you don’t want the pancake landing here.
- Flick your wrist in a fluid gentle motion while slightly raising your arm. Exert enough force to lift the pancake out of the pan.
- Watch as gravity does its magic – the pancake soaring through the air, flipping, spinning and, optimally, landing back in the pan and not on the aforementioned floor.
Don’t think too much, just flip the pancake
So there you have it, two great recipes. Now is when the fun really starts – with the toppings! Keep it simple with lemon and sugar or slather on jam, syrups, chocolate spread, fruit or ice cream. It doesn’t even have to be sweet. Ham, cheese and veggies all work well too. Happy Shrove Tuesday! How will you be cooking yours?