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Traditional English Pancake Recipe

Updated on August 21, 2015
Traditional English pancakes
Traditional English pancakes | Source

How to make traditional English pancakes

Real English pancakes are very different to the versions served in America. In fact, they are so popular in the UK that we even have our own Pancake Day where almost every household eats them served as a dessert.

They are also very popular as a savory dish because they are cheap to make and incredibly versatile. Read on and give them a try.

The English Pancake Day is celebrated on Shrove Tuesday and has its traditions in history. Shrove Tuesday is the day before Lent; a time when people fast and avoid rich foods. In times gone by, with no refrigeration, this meant that the household had to use up perishable foods such as milk and eggs - so Pancake Day was born! When I was a kid, I always used to look forward to getting home from school on that day especially so I could enjoy them.

They are easy to make and you probably have the ingredients you need in your pantry and fridge. Once you have the basic recipe, you can make countless meals and variations using the basic pancake batter.

Basic recipe

OK, how easy is this? To make six pancakes - and remember that English versions are a lot bigger than American ones -


  • Sieve 4oz. plain flour into a mixing bowl along with a pinch of salt. It's a good idea to hold the sieve quite a way above the bowl as you proceed because this will get more air into the flour.
  • Make a depression in the center of the flour with a spoon and break in two eggs.
  • Then take another bowl and mix together 7 fluid ounces (almost one cup) milk and 3 fluid ounces (about a third of a cup) of water. Using a wooden spoon, mix the eggs into the flour and add the milk/water mixture gradually. Use a whisk (or blender) to make sure that the batter is smooth.
  • At this point, my mum would leave the batter to rest for about half an hour. I'm too impatient to do that!
  • To cook, melt a little butter in a hot pan - remember this is a frying pan / skillet - and when it's hot, add just enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan. The bottom will be cooked in under a minute, so watch carefully.
  • Then comes the best bit ...


The all-important toss

When your pancake is cooked on one side, you need to turn it to cook the other side. Of course, you could be a wuss and use a spatula but I swear that properly tossed ones taste better!

Source

As a dessert

Traditionally pancakes are sprinkled with fresh lemon or orange juice - or a mixture of the two - and sprinkled with a little sugar. They are then rolled or folded twice to make triangle shapes.

Rather than the cook presenting them, sometimes they are served with orange and lemon slices on the side so that people can choose what they want.

But that's just the traditional way. They are great with honey, or chocolate sauce or that great British staple, Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup.

Sometimes when I make them for dessert, I spread lightly cooked chopped apple on the pancake, add a little cinnamon and then roll them. They're also delicious served with fresh fruit.

Or serve with a dollop of ice cream. Warm a little Bailey's or your favorite liqueur and pour over the pancakes. Try fresh berries and a sprig of mint ... there are no rules.

Source

Savory ideas

Because there is no sugar or sweetening ingredient in the batter, serving savory versions is a great idea. A really simple way is to sprinkle the warm, cooked pancakes with grated cheese and herbs before rolling or folding. Make a thick white sauce and add cooked, sliced mushrooms - this is delicious as a filling.

Or try filling the pancakes with lightly cooked chopped vegetables and fresh herbs. For a dinner party, spread roasted red peppers, fresh basil and goat cheese on the pancakes before rolling. Equally elegant, try ricotta and spinach as a filling or blue cheese with pine nuts, or curried chick peas with chopped cilantro ... you can let your imagination run riot!

A good way of serving savory pancakes into roll them with their filling, place in baking dish, sprinkle with grated cheese and put in a hot oven until the cheese melts. Simply gorgeous.

Even Royalty knows how to do the famous toss!

It a bit of a cheat because the pancake is tiny but watch Prince William and Kate Middleton in action. These treats must be regularly served at Buckingham Palace - William has a great technique - it's all in the wrist action!

Further reading

I love recipe books because not only do they give me great ideas for dinner, they also make great reading. They're also full of tips and tricks too. I learn so much from them and I especially love the celebrity chef books such as those by Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver because in addition to the great food, the personalities of these chefs really shine through in their writing.

Some favorite British treats

As English people living in the USA, there are several treats that we miss. We have a British store a few miles away but (don't tell them I said so) their prices can be really high. Amazon doesn't have that problem so we regularly have a foodie order. It saves time and money too!

Help in the kitchen

Just like any dish, to make proper pancakes the right tools are essential, Here are the basics that you'll need to turn out (and toss!) perfect pancakes, English-style.

Photography credits

All photographs from stock.xchng.

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    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Merrci: Thank you!

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 

      4 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Fun lens! I have to try these, toss and all. Enjoyed the videos too. Happy Pancake Day to you!

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @peterb6001: Yum! Yes, it's crazy that we only have them once a year.I must check the pantry and see if I can make some for this evening.

    • peterb6001 profile image

      Peter Badham 

      4 years ago from England

      I rebelled against Shrove Tuesday and had them last night for supper, lemon and sugar on a couple and golden syrup on the other two. So easy and delicious but something English people always forget to make, including myself.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Harpreetdesignerdeep: Thank you for reading :)

    • profile image

      Harpreetdesignerdeep 

      5 years ago

      I Love to eat Pancake, Its very Easy to make. It Required very simple ingredients that are easily available in our kitchens...Thanx for sharing such an amazing recipe with us...

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @prostech: I love pancakes! I was just deciding what to make for dinner tonight .... pancakes it will be!

    • prostech profile image

      prostech 

      5 years ago

      Yummy, Now i'm craving pancakes.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @AllThingsPotter: Isn't it great? You can tell that both Prince William and Kate are well practiced at tossing pancakes.

    • AllThingsPotter profile image

      AllThingsPotter 

      5 years ago

      Love that video!

    • profile image

      Gala98 

      5 years ago

      My Mum makes fab pancakes - she often has frozen raspberries from the previous summer so just defrost & warm them slightly with a bit of sugar to taste, big dollop of creme fraiche & mmmm. My fav combo though is nutella & banana slices - super yummy!

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @HSP Connections: That sounds tasty - thanks for the idea!

    • HSP Connections profile image

      Peter Messerschmidt 

      5 years ago from Port Townsend, WA, USA

      I love pancakes! I'm from Denmark, mind you, but our pancakes look very much like the UK version... make them regularly, typically eat them with strawberry jam.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @les777: Please do - they are a great way to use up leftovers too. Thanks!

    • profile image

      les777 

      5 years ago

      I've only ever had pancakes with lemon juice and sugar but will be trying some savoury pancakes after reading this.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Carpenter76: Definitely!

    • Carpenter76 profile image

      Carpenter76 

      5 years ago

      Pancake day? We must introduce that in Holland as well :D

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @takkhisa: Oh, you will :)Thanks for visiting!

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 

      5 years ago

      I would like try this! I hope i am going to like this recipe :)

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @TACTCI LM: Thanks so much for visiting!

    • TACTCI LM profile image

      TACTCI LM 

      5 years ago

      Nice style and display of this traditional english pancake recipe. Great job!

    • JuliaHidy profile image

      JuliaHidy 

      5 years ago

      I love your pancake recipe! I'm Canadian, and we do many things the British way, but Aunt Jamaima is the usual style here. We need your recipe and to establish a national pancake day similar to how we celebrate Victoria Day. I'd like my British pancakes with Lyles or maple syrup and wild Canadian blueberries, please. Cheers!

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @mrknowitall54321: Ours were lovely - thank you!

    • mrknowitall54321 profile image

      mrknowitall54321 

      5 years ago

      Did everyone enjoy their pancakes earlier this week?

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @LornsA178: Thank you so much for commenting!

    • LornsA178 profile image

      LornsA178 

      5 years ago

      Sounds delicious.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @anonymous: Thanks very much for visiting!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      Love pancakes but never try this English style, thanks for this awesome post !

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @loopylooh: We'll be having proper English pancakes here in Florida today. I have the Tate & Lyle at the ready. Happy Pancake Day!

    • loopylooh profile image

      loopylooh 

      5 years ago

      I live in england and i've just been and fetched all the ingredients for pancakes as the kids want them when they get home from school

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Jo-Jackson: It's Pancake Day today - enjoy!

    • Jo-Jackson profile image

      Jo-Jackson 

      5 years ago

      I love English pancakes with sugar and lemon.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @InfoCoop: Thanks for visiting! I'm sure he'll enjoy them.

    • InfoCoop profile image

      InfoCoop 

      5 years ago

      My husband is a pancake fanatic. I will have to make these for him. Thanks for sharing it!

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @MaureenCee: Maureen, what a great idea to add custard powder. I must try that. I try to use my mum's traditional recipe but the idea of custard powder is too good to resist. Thank you so much for the idea!

    • MaureenCee profile image

      MaureenCee 

      5 years ago

      Although I'm an Aussie having an English stock background most of the cooking I learned a loooong time ago was from there so pancakes are made this way always. I was taught to to add a tablespoon of Custard Powder to the flour before sieving and it certainly makes them nicer. They are a Sunday morning treat at my place especially when the grandies come to stay. Fillings can be anything you like, lemon and sugar, jam and cream, honey, plain butter whatever takes your fancy. No I have only ever once eaten savoury pancakes and never again they were a violation of a great treat, also we only put water in them when we want Crepe` Suzettes or we're short of milk.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @MarcellaCarlton: It's the same day as Mardi Gras - next week - so that's a great excuse for giving them a try!

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @miaponzo: Me too :) They are more like French crepes than American pancakes. Thanks for visiting!

    • profile image

      MarcellaCarlton 

      5 years ago

      I did not know that the Brits made their pancakes different. And, Shrove Tuesday, I've never heard of it. We will certainly have to try this! Thanks for sharing!

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Sue-DN: The best way :)

    • profile image

      miaponzo 

      5 years ago

      Well l didn't even know that English pancakes were like that! Now I'm hungry!!!

    • profile image

      Sue-DN 

      5 years ago

      I don't have pancakes very often, but when I do it's the full OTT - butter, lemon & sugar!

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