Travel inspiration and insider tips

Pancake Day

4 years, 1 month ago

Pancake Day Perfected

You can’t say you don’t like pancakes because there’s no such thing as a ‘definitive pancake’. The variations are endless. Almost every country has a take on the theme. And even if forced asceticism isn’t just for Lent. Sugar-free, salt-free, fat-free, gluten-free pancakes are about the most indulgent way we’ve ever found to do self-denial. So, whether Shrove Tuesday isn’t complete without a dance on the knife-edge of hyperglycemia or you can’t tell the difference between a pikelet and a blini, read on. But be warned; once you’ve perfected the basics, an obsession with Pancake Art is just round the corner.

When and What is Pancake Day?

Like Lent and Easter, Shrove Tuesday is a moveable feast. If you aren’t up to speed on the Liturgical Calendar, it falls on February 9th this year – just think of it like Mardi Gras with pancakes instead of plumes, beads and bikinis. Traditionally sins are confessed or ‘shrove’ on Shrove Tuesday, penance is received on Ash Wednesday and 40 days of abstinence follow. So using up luxuries like eggs, milk and butter before Lent made sense and Pancake Day was born.

Know Your Pancakes

But, if the French only ate crêpes on Chandeleur, pancake consumption was limited to Shrove Tuesday in the UK and everyone else ignored the deliciousness completely, our lives would be poorer and Instagram would collapse overnight. Happily, that’s not the case and the fine tradition of slapping batter on a hot surface is thriving in one guise or another, the world over, all year round.

Crêpes are pretty much a food-group in France but don’t ever confuse them with pancakes. No true crêpe uses baking powder. The trick here is vigorous batter beating, a shallow non-stick pan and flipping your crêpe when the edges start to crisp and look lacy, not a moment before.

Blinis might be associated with caviar and canapes today, but the cute Russian member of the pancake family can date its origins way back to pagan times. It’s another one that gives baking powder a miss and favours small and sturdy instead of wafer-thin – buckwheat is the traditional flour.

Pikelets are basically well-travelled crumpets. They started life in England, moved to Australia and are now a thick, fluffy, sweet, teatime staple served traditionally with cream, jam and free-flowing melted butter everywhere from Sydney to Darwin.

Scotch Pancakes include sugar in the recipe and are like a slightly larger, sweeter, fluffier version of blinis. If you aren’t Scottish, you might know them as Drop Scones – the perfect size and shape demands a loaded spoon of batter ‘dropped’ on to a hot griddle.

American Flapjacks stacked and drizzled with maple syrup are Instagram icons, symbols of wholesome and probably a direct route to heart failure by the time you’re 40. But take it easy, don’t pile ‘em high and they’re also most people’s all-time favourite.

Perfect Pancake Recipe

If you don’t have an apple-cheeked grandma or a long line of aproned great aunts to pass down their cooking secrets, have one of ours instead. This is the most fool-proof, impressive and easy pancake recipe we’ve ever tried. But don’t start without a good non-stick pan (if you own a griddle you probably own a pancake recipe too). And bear in mind, pancakes are best fresh. So resist the temptation to make photogenic stacks and just eat them for goodness sake.

What You Need for 8 Pancakes

  • • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • • 1½ teaspoons of baking powder
  • • 1 cup of milk
  • • 2 tablespoons of melted butter
  • • 1 egg

What You Do

  • 1. Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl.
  • 2. Beat egg in a smaller bowl, add milk and whisk until well mixed.
  • 3. Melt butter in your non-stick pan. Remove from heat. Add melted butter to egg and milk and whisk until slightly frothy.
  • 4. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk until the batter is perfectly smooth and glossy (a wire balloon whisk works best).
  • 5. Wipe excess butter off your pan with kitchen roll, leaving it just lightly coated.
  • 6. Put your pan on a low heat, let it slowly warm and test the temperature with a tablespoon of batter. If it firms into shape quickly and the surface begins to bubble, you’re good to go.
  • 7. Put the remaining batter in a jug and slowly pour enough into the pan to cover the surface (the more mixture the thicker the pancake). Your pancake will quickly start to bubble and firm. Lift up the edge to check the underside and when it’s light, golden brown, use a wide spatula to flip – don’t be tempted to ‘toss’ a pancake, that only works in movies.
  • 8. When both sides are an even colour, slide gently on to a clean plate and enjoy.

This recipe doesn’t use sugar. You can add a level tablespoon if you want. But we think going overboard on toppings is a much better idea and we’ll leave those to your limitless imagination.

And just so you know; the first pancake is always a bit ugly whatever recipe you use. It’s the Witch’s Pancake and traditionally set aside to distract her while you eat the rest of your flawless creations in peace.

Happy Pancake Day.

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