I think close friends will always have been surprised that a foodie and gastronaught such as myself would avoid discussing restaurants, recipes, food history, and cooking techniques on this blog, however with it being Pancake Day in the UK I thought I would publish my recipe for pancakes and how I cook them. In reality they are simple to make and this recipe is closely based on one published in the Good Housekeeping’s My First Cook Book.

Note this is for traditional thin crepe/pancakes, not the thicker US style butter milk based ones.

It should be noted this recipe scales up well. In the past I used Pancake Day as an excuse to gather friends round my place and would make roughly 30 to 40 pancakes during the evening. The key things are:

  • A mesh strainer to sift the flour.
  • A decent whisk as this will make mixing easier.
  • A wide frying or crepe pan – too small and either you’ll end up with mini pancakes else they will be too fat and not cook through properly (either being raw on the inside else over cooked/burnt on the out).
  • A high enough heat, else the pancake will not cook evenly.
  • Patience.
  • Being prepared for the first pancake to be a tester 😉

The core ingredients for each batch (which will make 4 pancakes) is:

  • Roughly 4oz plain flour.
  • 1/2 pint full fat milk (semi skinned can be used but will affect the flavour).
  • 1 egg (I use large but any size can be used without affecting the taste).
  • Pinch of salt (optional).

Cooking method:

  • Pour the flour in to the strainer and sift in to a large bowl. Discard any of the lumps left behind. Note a metal strainer will actually help break down lumps as you gently shake the flour side to side. Lightly season.
  • Add the egg.
  • Add roughly half of the milk and start whisking from the centre out until you get a thick paste. Note the sifting in step one ‘should’ prevent lumps but if any do form they will be small and should be left in the mix.
  • Gradually add the rest of the milk while whisking until either all the milk has been poured in or you have the right consistency (the latter option being when you know what to look for and what your preferences are).
  • Carefully melt some butter in a small bowl in a microwave. Personally once melted I add and mix in a little sesame oil as I like the slight nuttiness this brings to the flavour. This actually makes it easier to make large batches of pancakes.
  • Brush some of the melted butter over the surface of the pan. You need the pan coated, but only lightly so it glistens, you do not want there to be enough for the butter to flow (unless you want a more buttery taste).
  • Pour some of the batter in to the middle of the pan and start swirling around to force it to spread out towards the edge – I use a large ladle as this holds the right capacity for my crepe pan. Note it is safer to pour too little and have to add more batter mix rather than using too much and ending up with too thick a pancake.
  • Now leave the pancake alone until the edge starts to dry (it will darken in colour). At this point use a suitable implement, such as a spatula or fish slice (my preference) to lift the edge up. Continue moving the implement around the edge while gently shaking the pan. The pancake will become loose and start sliding around, at which point you can move on to the next step.
  • Toss the pancake – if you’re nervous or unable to do this then use the spatula/slice to manually turn the pancake over. Flipping adds nothing to the taste, just theatre,
  • After 30 seconds to a minute gently lift the edge and look underneath. If the pancake is cooked, slide on to a plate and start on the next one.

Despite a bad sweet tooth I actually prefer a savoury filling, rolling the pancake up (rather than folding) with shredded ham and grated cheese.