Traditional English Pancake Recipe
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
All photographs from stock.xchng.