Pancake day!

Pancake Day is upon us!

I know some people eat pancakes all year round. Like hot cross buns. But it’s all a bit wrong. To be fair, we do occasionally eat Scotch (definitely Scotch, not American) pancakes. But traditional pancakes, the thin ones, we ONLY eat on Shrove Tuesday. And hot cross buns are only for Easter. And mince pies are for Christmas.

I’m not religious so this isn’t coming from a Christian viewpoint. My family celebrates these festivals as atheists. For us they are times for family and food and fun. Some things are special. If you eat them all year round they stop being special. And let’s face it, if you eat mince pies in August, you’re only one step away from being that loon on the telly who keeps his Christmas decorations up all year and has a roast turkey dinner every freaking day.

Anyway, here are my two easy peasy recipes for perfect pancakes. I’ve included traditional and Scotch. They’re basically the same thing. It’s just a batter mixture, no different to making Yorkshire puddings. You just need a thicker or thinner batter depending on whether you want thick fluffy pancakes or thin lighter ones. PLEASE don’t get conned into buying those overpriced bottles and packets of pancake mix. Pancakes cost pennies to make yourself and there really isn’t any great secret or mystery to it. Give it a go. Dare you.

Traditional pancakes (makes 8-10)

220g flour
Pinch of salt
4 eggs
550ml milk
4 tbs butter, melted in the microwave
Oil for cooking

Put a large frying pan on to heat up. You need the tiniest bit of oil for each pancake. Maybe a teaspoon? Swirl it round the pan. You need it to only just cover the pan and you want the pan to be HOT.

While it’s heating up, whisk up all the ingredients in a bowl. Now I have read all sorts of complicated recipes where you have to sift the flour from a great height or add the ingredients a bit at a time. Seriously. Don’t bother. My pancakes always turn out fine without all the faff and you want to keep it as easy and mess-free as possible. Keep whisking until the mixture is smooth with no lumps.

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Set up a little system so you don’t end up dripping oil and batter all over the hob. If your mixing bowl doesn’t have a pouring spout you might want to use a ladle or pour it into a jug. You need the oil to hand in case the pan gets dry. You need a spatula for loosening the edges of the pancake and to help with flipping. And you need a plate for stacking the cooked pancakes. Stacking them helps keep them warm.

By now your pan should be super hot. Ready? Let’s do this thing. And remember, the first one nearly always goes wrong so don’t be put off.

Pour some mixture into the pan. Swirl the pan as you pour to fill in any holes and stop when the pan is coated with a thin layer. Leave it for a few seconds. It really is that quick. When you can get a spatula all the way round the edge you’re probably ready to flip.

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I always try to toss one the fun way, just coz it’s traditional. But really? I don’t want to eat crumpled up pancakes so I use the spatula to turn them. Boring, I know, but I’m all about the food.

Once you have a lovely light colour on each side, it’s done. It takes probably less than a minute to cook so don’t wander off or get distracted.

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And that’s it. I like mine with lemon and sugar. Use fresh lemons by all means but a bottle of lemon juice is an image from my childhood.

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Scotch pancakes (makes 12)

135g flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 egg
2 tbs melted butter
2tbs caster sugar
130ml milk

Again, start heating some oil in a large frying pan. You want it hot. Now Scotch pancakes use a much thicker batter so this time I do sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl first, then whisk in the wet ingredients until you have a smooth, thick batter.

You could stir blueberries or chocolate chips into the mixture at this point. Or anything you fancy really.

Dollop large tablespoons of the mixture into the hot pan.

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They take just a few seconds or maybe a minute each side so keep your eye on them. When you start to see the odd air bubble forming, flip them over and finish them off for a few seconds on the other side.

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The toppings are endless. Keep it old skool with lemon juice and sugar.

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Or drizzle with syrup (crispy bacon goes really well with this). I really like coconut yoghurt and sliced banana. So many possibilities!

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(L)

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