It’s Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, Mardi Gras.
It’s pancake time. Woo hoo!
4oz plain flour
1/4 pint milk
pinch of salt
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and break the egg into the middle. Using a balloon whisk, mix the egg and as you do so, you’ll see the flour start to incorporate. Take your time. Add a tiny bit of milk and mix again. Repeat this until you have used all the milk and the batter is smooth. (Alternatively, throw everything in together and mix with one of those hand blenders. Easier but somehow not quite as therapeutic.)
You should leave the batter to sit for at least 30 minutes to let the gluten do its thing, then stir again and you’re ready to go.
There is nothing difficult about making pancakes – there’s only a problematic pan to deal with. You can use non-stick (if you must) but I find it just too non-stick – yes, you read that right, too non-stick. The mixture slides over the pan too quickly and doesn’t set properly.
I like to use a stainless steel, heavy bottomed frying pan. I know you’re probably freaking out about that but honestly, they don’t stick! The trick is to prep your pan before you start frying your batter. It’s really easy and only takes a minute to do.
Heat your pan and add a teaspoon of salt to it. Remove from the heat and scrub the surface with the salt using a bit of folded kitchen paper. (Try not to burn your fingers, obviously). Then, tip the salt away, wipe the pan out with a clean piece of kitchen paper and put back on the heat.
You want the pan to be medium hot. Not so hot that it’s smoking but hot enough that when you drop a little oil, say half a teaspoon, into it, it goes instantly super-runny and rolls around the pan easily. It looks hot like it would really hurt if you dropped some of that oil on your hand. Use a rubber spatula to make sure the whole surface is covered with a thin coating of oil, check again that it’s hot. Test it with a tiny drop of batter and if it instantly hisses and sets, the pan is ready. If you don’t have it hot enough or any surface of the pan hasn’t had the oil over it, it will stick. Be brave and pour a small ladle of your batter mix in and tip the pan until it covers the bottom surface. Try to avoid tipping it up the sides of the pan.
Put it on the heat and leave it alone until all the wet batter has set. It should start to shrink slightly from the sides. Help it along a bit with a spatula to judge whether it will lift easily from the bottom of the pan. Loosen it gently on all sides, check the bottom for colour then lift out and gently turn it over.
Flipping is fun. Try it at your peril!
Once the other side it done, set aside in a warm casserole dish and make up the others or eat it there and then at the kitchen worktop with lemon and sugar or butter and maple syrup – whatever’s your fancy. Our family tradition is dark brown sugar.
Flip ’em. roll ’em or fold ’em. Doesn’t matter. Just have fun with ’em!
NB. From the second pancake onwards you won’t need much oil at all, just run a folded bit of kitchen paper soaked in oil around the pan and off you go again.