Yesterday was Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday or as we call it in England: Pancake Day. The day before Lent when you would traditionally use up all the good stuff before leaner times. It amused me to see that in America they have changed this to Pancake Week – and given that I’m a day late posting this recipe I’m relieved to have a week to celebrate pancakes in all their forms.
Mixing up a batter of eggs, milk, and flour, and cooking up small cakes on a griddle is an ancient cooking technique and can be seen in various forms around the world: French crêpes, Russian blini, British drop scones, Ethiopian injera, and Indian poori—a happy global family of pancakes. In America, the variety is vast—Native American nokehick, Dutch pannekoeken, buckwheat cakes and hoecakes, Johnnycakes and journey cakes, flapjacks and slapjacks, flippers and flapcakes (flap means to toss), griddle cakes, batter cakes, and plain old pancakes.
Growing up in England, large pan-size pancakes appeared only once a year for Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day – topped with fresh lemon juice and sugar, and rolled up—a huge treat. We all look forward to eating their thinner French cousin – the crêpe – in Paris in the summer smothered in Nutella and pipping hot straight off the griddle.
Minty and Rémy would eat crêpes for breakfast every day if they could—as it is, I whip up some batter at least once a week and this is the simple batter that I have come up with over the years. Just three ingredients – eggs, milk and flour – and I usually make this up in the morning so it never has a long time to stand – but if you prefer to let it rest it can be made up a couple of hours in advance or better yet the night before and left in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning give it a good stir and you are good to go.
Minty prefers the English version and tops her pancake with lemon and sugar whereas Rémy is a fan of the French crêpe with as much Nutella as he can spread on the pancake. If we eat pancakes for brunch at the weekend I often make everyone a ham and cheese crepe first – if they still have room they then finish off with a sweet one for dessert.
1 cup floor
milk – enough to make the mixture the consistency of thick heavy cream (approx 1/2 – 1 cup)
1 tablespoon butter – optional if using a non-stick pancake pan
Lemon and sugar
Ham and Cheese
In a large bowl whisk the flour, eggs and 1/2 cup of milk together. Add small amounts of milk to the mixture to get the correct consistency. We like our pancakes on the thin side – reminiscent of a Parisienne crêpe eaten by the side of the road. To achieve this make the batter thinner than a pancake batter for classic America pancakes.
Let the batter rest – this can be any time from 5 minutes to over night.
Heat the non-stick pancake pan over medium heat. A tablespoon of butter can be used for flavor and to give the pancakes a deeper yellow color.
Ladle about 1/2 cup of pancake batter into the centre of the pan and gentle spread around.
Cook until the pancake is golden brown on the underside and easily comes away. Flip and cook on the other side.
Spread with Nutella whilst the pancake is still in the pan and then fold in half, then into quarters and over again and serve immediately.
For a ham and cheese crêpe flip and sprinkle with cheddar cheese (We like Dubliner) and sliced ham. The cheese will melt as the second side cooks.
Thanks to our friend and fab hairdresser to the stars, James Galvin, Minty now has a tres chic Parisienne bob to go with her French crêpe!
Try this recipe for a more traditional stack of silver dollar pancakes.