When you mention pancakes the majority of people instantly think 'sugar and lemons'. But pancakes have evolved into so much more than a limp flat helping of fried batter, only worthy of a sprinkle and squeeze!
With Easter fast approaching and the stocks of chocolate eggs already lining the aisle at the local supermarket we thought maybe we would skip back a step and take a look at Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day as it is affectionately known to many. This is the last day before the period of Lent, a Christian festival leading up to Easter Sunday or Easter Day.
It is traditional on this day to eat pancakes, ready for the beginning of Lent, which signifies a period of abstinence and giving up things you may normally eat. So Shrove Tuesday could be your last chance to indulge yourself and use up some of the foods that aren't allowed during Lent.
To begin with you need the perfect base and we have a very simple recipe below for plain pancakes; the 'flip' may be tricky but it does guarantee some laughter. Once you have the pancakes ready you really can begin to have some fun and start experimenting with different flavours, fillings and ideas. This is something you can do alone, with friends or involve the kids. See just how creative you can get and what delightful and weird concoctions you can come up with.
The first choice is commonly something sweet and sharp but apart from sugar and lemons, you can opt to add some fresh mixed berries (blackberries, raspberries, red currants etc.) and crème fraiche. Either layer them along the middle of the pancake and roll in style or add a bit of flair and fold each pancake in half, and half again before filling the pocket created with your berries. Add a dollop of crème fraiche on the top and you have a tasty treat ready to serve.
For added flavour soak the berries in a drop of your favourite liqueur or alcohol before use and drizzle the remaining liquid from the berries over the filled pancakes before you serve. The kids will have loads of fun trying to come up with some wacky suggestions for fillings. Would you consider peanut butter and jam? Or some fromage fraise with grated chocolate on the top? Go on, give them a go and let their imaginations loose.
Pancakes don’t have to be sweet, especially if your taste-buds sway more to the savoury. No-one needs to be excluded this year and come the 8th March 2011 Pancake Day could be a real celebration together instead of a quick, messy fry to satisfy the hoards.
Good old fashioned cheese and pickle works just as well and for those a little more daring try some shredded duck, spring onions and cucumber. If you love your bacon, add it to some onions and 'roll' - with grated apple and cheddar cheese on top you can create a new taste sensation. Don’t be afraid to be adventurous when it comes to Pancake Day. Have a look in the fridge and rifle through the cupboards to see what new taste options you can create.
It really is more than just 'sugar and lemons'.
Basic Pancake Recipe
- 100g plain flour
- 2 eggs
- 300ml semi-skimmed milk
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil or vegetable, plus extra for frying
- pinch salt
- Place the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre.
- Crack the eggs into the middle and pour in about 50ml milk and 1 tbsp oil.
- Start whisking from the centre, bringing the flour into the eggs, milk and oil.
- Once all the flour is in, beat until you have a smooth, thick paste.
- Continuing whisking the mixture whilst adding the remainder of the milk and leave to one side.
- Lightly grease the pan with your oil and heat on a moderate temperature.
- Ladle some batter into the pan, you may need to tilt the pan to move the mixture around for an even layer.
- Cook for approximately 30 seconds, or until the underneath starts to turn golden brown.
- Heres the tricky bit! Hold the pan handle, ease a slice under the pancake, then quickly lift and flip it over (this may take a bit of practice).
- Make sure the pancake is lying flat against base of the pan and leave for a further 30 seconds, before turning out onto a plate.
- Continue with the rest of the batter, serving them as you cook or stack onto a plate.