When it comes to times of the year that you know that you will be in the kitchen the most, pancake day is up there. Of course there is Christmas, and Easter (which isn’t that far away) but pancake day is the time of the year you get to have some fun with the family in the kitchen.
That’s what its all about at the end of the day, spending time with family and friends in the spaces you love the most, the kitchen being the heart of the home is top of the list, naturally.
As Sarah Rainey wrote in the Telegraph, “the association between pancakes in Britain is a longstanding one: Shrove Tuesday – though its name is ecclesiastical – was originally a pagan holiday, so round, hot pancakes were intended to represent the sun and the reemergence of light and heat post-winter.” Pancake day is ultimately
So what makes a great pancake and how can you perfect your pancake tossing skills to show off in front of the family? We have a few ideas to the secrets of a great pancake.
Start with the batter
Well, that’s the obvious place to start so let’s look at this for moment. Essentially you want a failsafe solution that, if worst comes to worst, you can knock out a quick batch and you can be prepared if more people than you thought, come to your home for a piece of the action.
Fanny Cradock was adamant that you needed to add very little milk to make a very thick paste. Dilute gradually while beating to desired thin consistency. This is after placing four heaped teaspoons of flour into a mixing bowl with a pinch of salt and an egg and egg yolk to be mixed in.
Other chefs recommend using buttermilk in the mix whilst some want to go all wax lyrical about the kind of flour. Felicity Cloake’s recipe is something that we would recommend following; it even allows for melted butter to provide nutty flavour to the mix that gives the pancakes a great taste.
Don’t underestimate the pan
Like a beautifully designed kitchen, you don’t want to miss the details. The details in the case for a pancake is what you use to cook it with, the pan.
Having the right pan is essential to a great night, if not, a non-stick pan avoids any horrible accidents when it comes to the pancake flipping challenge. You know the one, the one where everyone challenges each other to be beaten by the youngster in the home… yeah, that one.
Obviously, you can’t buy a new pan every year for one night, and if you’ve used your pan heavily over the last year, don’t worry there are a few tips here.
– Firstly, give your pan a good scrub with a non abrasive pad and used a bit of soapy water – this avoids losing what is left of the teflon coating.
– Make sure your pan sit flat on the hob. Whether you have a ceramic or gas top you should be able to tell quickly. If it doesn’t, bin it. It stops the heat circulating around the pan equally.
– Use butter or vegetable oil to help lubricate the pan. It only needs to be a little bit but it is worth it.
– You want the pan hot, but not smoking. If it is smoking, turn the heat down and remove the pan from the stove for a minute or so to cool down.
Preparation is key
We’re not talking about ingredients, although that would help. We’re not even talking about the pan… we’ve discussed this already. This is more in the preparation and serving.
Of course, for many, the fun is actually in the making and that’s where you get to demonstrate great skills of the perfect flip. What about though having enough pancakes to go around? So we advise a few things here;
– Make the batter today… yes Monday! 24 hours before hand will be fine, and if the batter thickens then loosen with a bit of milk and stir well.
– Make pancakes an hour or so before your tea – we know, no-one will see you flip the pancakes and won’t the ones made go cold? Well, that’s what a warming draw is perfect for, or even a quick blast in a combi microwave. Our NEFF partnership ovens have great features for these very events! Failing that, warm up your pan and put the pancakes in for 30 seconds each side… you can even show off with a good flip at this point.
– Stack the pancakes with layers of greaseproof paper between and NOT kitchen towels. The grease can make the paper stick to the pancakes and sometimes you don’t see it before warming. It’s not a pleasant taste.
Toppings are completely personal so we won’t go into the debate of sweet or savoury but we did come across a great piece of advice which we think needs to be added to the Secrets of Great Pancake… Spread your topping like you are “buttering them like bread.”
That means having enough of the topping in the first place. whether you roll or fold is inconsequential in reality, you want the topping to be uniform across a great pancake so be sure to stock up.
(Our favourite is nutella with chopped hazelnuts – in case you were wondering!)
Just have fun!
Remember, it’s just a pancake, so go and have fun. Be ambitious with flavours, enjoy the evening and remember, a pancake is not for just one night you can have them in the rest of the year as well.