What if I told you I’d got a recipe for the floofiest pancakes you’re every likely to make, AND that the secret behind them is cheaty, home-made buttermilk, AND that you can make them all in advance, keep them warm in the oven and they don’t even sink a teeny, tiny bit? I know, right? Feeling pretty smug right now. So, quick sciencey bit: buttermilk is more acidic than normal milk (it’s also thicker, making your batter less runny) so using buttermilk in your pancakes (and indeed scones or whatever) means that there’s more acid to react with the baking soda, therefore making more bubbles and making the pancakes lighter and fluffier. See? It’s not magic, it’s science. But I never remember to buy buttermilk, so I use the next best thing: normal milk soured with lemon juice and left at room temperature for a couple of minutes. It works in exactly the same way and will give you the perfect, fluffy pancakes. Want the recipe? Read on!
So how did you feel this morning when the alarm went off? After all the lovely festive lie-ins, English Towers was not a happy household. I find that what you really, really need on these cold mornings (apart from a hug, obviously), is a mahoosive tower of puffy, fluffy American pancakes. The lovely chaps at Flora were kind enough to share their wonderful recipe for American pancakes with me, and challenged me to come up with some awesome breakfast recipes to help you all through all these ffffrrrreeeezing mornings!
It’s Pancake Day! Pancake Day is a huge deal in this household, and it generally means eschewing dinner altogether for a major league pancake fest.
Pancakes generally come in two forms: what I would call the traditional, flat type of English pancake (a crêpe, if you’re of the French persuasion), and the fat, fluffy, American type (sometimes called drop scones – I think maybe more in Scotland). Whatever you call them, for us, Pancake Day means proper flat English pancakes, rolled up with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of crunchy sugar (or maybe a drizzle of golden syrup), but if you’d rather go fat and fluffy (our usual breakfast preference with bacon and maple syrup), I’m not a pancakeist (what? it’s a word), I’ve got a recipe for that too. You’re welcome.
We love pancake day. Let’s face it there aren’t many days in the year when we go ‘sod it, let’s skip dinner and go straight for dessert’ so being total gluttons, Shrove Tuesday (21st Feb) is a big favourite in the English household.
Even if you’re not very confident at cooking, it’s really easy to make pancakes. Here’s a little step by step guide.
I usually make an obscene amount of batter, but this amount will feed a family of four quite generously. You’ll find a gazillion different pancake recipes, but this is an old favourite and works a treat, so why mess with it?:
All you really need is:
200g plain flour
2 eggs (make sure they’re cage free – see below)
So just sift the flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour and crack the eggs into it.
With a wooden spoon, break up the eggs and start stirring gently, gradually bringing the flour into the mix.
Now, slowly add in the milk, stirring all the time (you can change to a whisk here if you like) until you get a nice smooth batter (this batter can be made up to a day in advance and kept, covered in the fridge).
When you’re ready, add a tiny splash of oil into a heavy-based frying pan (you really don’t need a lot at all – I very rarely top up after that initial splash – as long as you’ve got a decent non-stick pan). Pour in enough batter just to cover the bottom of the pan evenly when swirled around (any more and your pancake won’t cook evenly). Now leave it to cook on the bottom. Carefully lift up an edge to check how it’s cooking, and when it’s lightly browned, give it a shake to free it from the pan. Feel free to flip here, or just flap it over with a wide fish slice.
Keep your finished pancakes warm in a low oven, covered loosely with foil, while you make the rest.
Now to fillings: we’re classic lemon and sugar, generally, but try fruit compote, Nutella, bananas and honey, or that lush salted caramel sauce stuff from Marks and Spencer (nomnomnom).
If you don’t fancy big, flat ‘crepe’ style pancakes, you can also make ‘Scotch’ pancakes, the small, American-style ones. Here’s a link to one of my recipes (my lot prefer these for breakfast with bacon and lashes of maple syrup:
And now a note on the humble egg. It’s true that battery cages have been banned in the EU, but so called ‘enriched’ battery cages are still allowed. This horrible practice gives each bird just about the size of an A4 piece of paper. I know, right? That teeny space for all the lovely perchy, scritchy rootly, flappy stuff that hens love to do. Obviously meaning that they have great trouble doing it. And as a former hen-keeper, and knowing what lovely, intelligent, happy little dudes they are, this upsets me.
All of us can vote with our feet (and our wallets) and make sure we don’t buy eggs from these cages. The less we buy, the less demand there will be and, hopefully, the less ‘enriched’ battery cages will exist. At the very least, switch to barn eggs (I’m not a huge fan, but at least they’re cage free).
The RSPCA have produced this handy guide to the (often confusing) wording on egg packaging. And it’s not just boxes of eggs that could contain these caged eggs – there’s sandwiches, mayonnaise, pasta, cakes and quiches. I think it’s time for a little transparency so we all know what we’re buying. Lots of supermarkets already offer ranges that contain free-range eggs, including ALL Marks & Spencer products, all Waitrose own-brand products, all Sainsbury’s own-brand products, all Co-op own-brand products, Morrisons ‘The Best’ range, Tesco ‘Finest’ range and the Asda ‘Extra Special’ range.
Let’s all make sure we pick wisely eh?
More information about the RSPCA’s campaign and cage-free eggs: http://www.rspca.org.uk/eggs
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