- Food and Cooking
The Perfect Pancake Recipe with some Tasty Serving Suggestions
Why wait for the next pancake day - pancakes can be enjoyed any time!
Follow this simple recipe for pancake batter for a comprehensive guide to mixing, cooking and serving the perfect pancake. First you will find a basic recipe for a versatile pancake, followed by a selection of some of my favourite serving suggestions and ideas for both sweet and savoury fillings below.
Pancakes are so easy to prepare, that I wonder why anybody finds it necessary to buy pancake mix or ready-made pancakes that are usually full of preservatives and additives. Homemade pancakes from fresh ingredients are hugely superior, both in flavour and quality.
Pancakes are traditionally eaten on Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Day, and it is thought that it was originally developed as a way to use up all the fresh dairy ingredients in the pantry before Lent, when many Christians give up rich foods. The French use the term Mardi Gras, which literally translates as "Fat Tuesday", the day on which to use up all your fatty foods.
When is Pancake Day?
The next Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, is on Tuesday 28th February, 2017. The day changes each year because it is linked to the timing of Easter. Easter follows the first full moon after the spring equinox, and is preceded by the 40 days of Lent. Shrove Tuesday is the last day before Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday.
A lot of Christian festival days are mixed up with ancient pagan festivals, and go back to a time before people had clocks or the Gregorian calendar, so festival days were often linked to solar and lunar cycles.
These days Pancake Day is something anyone can celebrate regardless of faith or tradition. Children, in particular, often enjoy helping to make and toss the pancakes, and we always have fun thinking up different fillings and ways of serving them. Try the basic recipe given here and see how you like to serve yours.
- 4 oz (110 grams) plain white flour
- 2 eggs, medium-large
- 7 fl oz (200 ml) milk, mixed with ...
- 3 fl oz (75 ml) water
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- plus extra butter, for cooking
- pinch salt
- Sieve the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl to ensure there are no lumps in the flour and to keep the mixture light and airy.
- Make a well in the centre of the flour with a spoon, and break the eggs into it. Mix the eggs into the flour with a balloon whisk or an electric mixer on a low setting, adding the milk and water mixture a little bit at a time, and mixing around the edges to bring in all the flour. Mix until it is all incorporated and mixed together evenly. At this point the mixture can be left to rest until you are ready to cook, but this is not strictly necessary.
- When you are ready to start cooking, melt the butter (you can melt it in the pan you are about to cook in) and add it to the mixture, stirring well as you do. Heat up a heavy bottomed or good non-stick frying pan and melt a small piece of butter in it., tip the pan to cover as much as possible with the butter. The pan needs to be very hot to prevent sticking, but try to avoid burning the butter before you add the first bit of the mixture.
- Using a ladle or large serving spoon, spoon just enough of the batter mixture into the hot pan to just cover the base of the pan. (If you find it easier you could transfer the mixture into a large jug, and pour the right amount into the frying pan.) Swirl the batter around in the pan to ensure an even covering. Cook the first side, this can take as little as 30 seconds if your pan is hot enough. You will know when it is done as small bubbles will appear on the surface of the pancake or you can lift the edge with a spatula and look underneath to check if it is a nice golden brown colour.
- Tossing the pancake. This is the fun part if you have the nerve for it! Lift the pan off the heat and grip the handle firmly, and with a flick of the wrist, launch the pancake into the air, let it flip over and catch up the other way in your frying pan. Not as hard as it sounds with a little practice! My advice is to not throw it too high - no higher than about a foot (30 cm). Alternatively, for the faint-hearted, slide a large spatula under your pancake and flip it over so that it lands flat on the other side. Cook for a little longer until golden brown on both sides, then remove your pancake from the pan. Melt a little more butter immediately in the pan, ready to cook the next one.
- Pancakes can be served individually straight from the pan, or can be kept on a hot plate in a warm oven until you have enough to serve everybody. I usually like to make sure I have cooked at least two for each person before serving. See below for serving suggestions.
Simple serving suggestions
Classic style lemon pancakes
Lay the pancake flat on the plate, sprinkle with sugar and lemon juice, then roll up and eat immediately. Simple, yet delicious!
In a saucepan cook 4 oz blueberries with 1 tablespoon sugar, 2 tspn butter and 2 tspn water for 5-10 minutes. Put one tablespoon of berries inside the pancake and roll up, then drizzle some of the leftover syrup over the top and dust with a little icing sugar to serve. (Pictured)
Spread the pancake with your favourite jam, soft fruit jams such as strawberry and raspberry work well. Roll up and serve with whipped cream.
Use chocolate spread or melted chocolate to fill your pancakes, roll up and dust with a little chocolate powder.
Other simple toppings for dessert pancakes include maple syrup, runny honey or golden syrup.
More delicious fillings and variations
To make a more complete dessert fill your pancakes with one of these delicious filling ideas.
Stew one or two sharp cooking or dessert apples with a tablespoon of brown sugar and 2 tsp butter. Put about two tablespoons of filling into a pancake, fold it over, dust with cinnamon, then serve with a good helping of whipped cream. (This my absolute favourite!)
Slice the banana lengthways and fry in butter and brown sugar until soft. Wrap up in a pancake and serve with cream or natural yogurt and sprinkle with chopped walnuts
This famous French version of pancakes is quite zingy and delicious.
Add the zest of one orange and 1 tablespoon of caster sugar to the basic batter mixture above before cooking.
Make the sauce by mixing together 5 fl oz (150 ml) fresh orange juice, the grated rind of one orange and one lemon, 1 tablespoon caster sugar and 3 tablespoons of either Grand Marnier, Cointreau or brandy.
Cook a batch of nice thin pancakes, and store in a warm oven. Meanwhile melt some butter in the frying pan, pour in the sauce and heat gently, then put each pancake into the hot sauce, one at a time, folding each one into small triangular parcels that are completely soaked and coated in the sauce. Serve immediately.
Use buckwheat flour instead of regular wheat flour for a gluten free version. They will have a slightly more rubbery texture, but work just as well.
Pancakes can also be used as a savoury main course ingredient, and are very versatile - you can fill them with pretty much anything you like. Here are some of my favourite ideas.
Stir fried vegetable pancakes
Stir fry some vegetables such as beansprouts, sliced onions, strips of carrot, green beans, shredded cabbage, mushrooms, peppers, baby sweetcorn etc. Mix in some soy sauce and roll up inside the pancakes.
Spinach pancakes with cheese sauce
Fry some onion, stir in some chopped spinach and cook until soft. Spread over your pancakes, sprinkle salt and pepper over to taste, roll them up and put into a baking dish, then cover with hot cheese sauce. Sprinkle a handful of grated cheese on top then bake in the oven for 15 mins until browned on top. (See below for a link to a cheese sauce recipe.)
Cheese sauce recipe
- How to make cheese sauce - a step by step recipe
A simple step-by-step guide for making home-made cheese sauce. Delicious and versatile, this sauce can be made in larger quantities and frozen for later use.