Just in case you hadn't noticed all the frying pan/lemon juicer displays in the shops at the moment, it's Shrove Tuesday tomorrow. Yay! I love pancake day.
Shrove Tuesday is the day when we're supposed to purge our cupboards of eggs, milk etc in preparation for 40 days of denial. I love that Easter is early this year, it means that I can make the seamless transition from self-improvement New Year's Resolution style to self-improvement Lent style. There's no chance for wallowing in failed-resolution induced misery in between. I always try and give something up for Lent. When I was about ten I ambitiously attempted to give up sugar (thinking cake, chocolate etc). I was doing pretty well until my evil older sister pointed out that as nearly everything contained sugar my 40 days without biscuits, but with fruit, were a big, fat waste of time. Oh I how I loved my sister.
I haven't decided what I'm giving up yet. I normally tell people that I'm forgoing alcohol as I'm not that in to big drinking* so it's a good way to shut people up when they ask why you're not having anything stronger than Diet Coke. Is it just me or is encouraging other people to drink one of the last socially acceptable peer pressures? It drives me mad.
In the past, I've organised pancake parties. I'd make a big batch of batter and then ask everyone to bring their favourite fillings. It's always a fun evening, although everyone has to take turns to socialise with you by the cooker as you end up chained to the frying pan unless you can convince someone to takeover so you can rest your tossing arm. The great thing about pancakes is that they're a vehicle for so many delicious fillings. I favour the simplicity of fresh lemon juice and caster sugar or savoury cheese and ham. However, there's a lot of fun to be had with chocolate buttons, smarties, cream, bananas, ice-cream, caramel sauce etc etc (well Shrove Tuesday is about getting rid of all your fattening foods after all).
British pancakes are much thinner than their fluffy American counterparts but they're not quite as light as Gallic crepes. I find that the trick to good pancakes is to discard the first one that you make. This one tends to be a bit leathery and difficult to handle, but once the pan has been christened the rest should be fine. Wipe your pan with a little melted butter or oil in between each pancake and slide the batter evenly around the pan. Once the batter has started to brown at the edges you can flip (or toss) it to cook the other side. Roll your light little circle around your chosen filing and you're good to go.
Basic Pancake Batter
Makes 8-10 pancakes
4oz plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 large egg
1/2 pint milk
- Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl.
- Using a wooden spoon make a well in the centre of the flour and drop in the lightly beaten egg.
- Slowly pour half the milk into the flour, gradually working the flour into the milk with a fork.
- When all the flour is incorporated use a whisk to make a smooth batter.
- Allow the mixture to stand for a few minutes and then add the remainder of the milk. The consistency should be that of single cream.
- Heat enough oil or butter to gloss the bottom of your frying pan and pour a thin layer of batter onto the base. The butter/oil should be bubbling hot but not smoking. Once the edges of the pancake have browned, flip it over and cook the other side.
- I'll be having mine with sugar and lemon. Enjoy!