We're no longer making pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. According to research that is.
Just in case you've missed this, it is Shrove Tuesday tomorrow. This is a day traditionally celebrated by making pancakes. I was always told the tradition started because people needed to use up the perishable stuff they won't be eating over Lent. Like butter, and milk. I don't know if that is true. I do know that I don't tend to do the whole Lent thing anymore. But I still love doing pancakes.
What I don't get is this idea that making pancakes is complicated and a lot of effort. You might be scoffing at that but it is true. Lyle's Golden Syrup people have done some research, and have found that there's 25% fewer people bothering to make pancakes now, than there was on Shrove Tuesday 10 years ago. The main reasons given?
It takes too much time and too much effort. What on earth are these people talking about? Pancakes were a staple of my student days simply because they were so easy, and relatively cheap to make. You don't need any more equipment than a bowl, fork, spoon, frying pan and hopefully a flat spatula or fish slice.
As for toppings - you know a knob of butter will do the job. But there's other options you might not have thought about , and which you're likely to have in your cupboard already. Read on to find out our top tips for the easiest pancakes you'll ever make.
Making the mix for pancakes is so easy, I have always wondered why people buy those bottles of mix. For one thing, it is always healthier to make from scratch where you can. But mainly, it is so much cheaper no matter what ingredients you use. Organic, free range egg, with organic flour and organic sugar, or the cheaper dozen eggs from Iceland (the cheapest eggs I've found, for a half dozen free range too), Sainsbury's Basics flour and bog standard sugar.
This is the recipe I've always used, and it is the same one my mum used. I think that most basic, plain pancakes pretty much use the same recipe.
You don't need to have measuring jugs etc. A cup in cooking terms is a teacup. As long as you use the same tool for measuring all ingredients (so use the same cup) in baking you should be fine as the ratios should be right.
You will need:
- 1 cup of plain flour
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup of milk
- 1/8 teaspoon of salt
If you have a sieve, then sift the flour and salt. If you don't, and there's plenty of times when I haven't, then don't worry about it. Your pancakes might be slightly less fluffy but they'll still taste great.
Mix in the egg, then the milk. A beater or whisk is helpful here, and a whisk will result in fluffier pancakes. But they're going to taste the same regardless, and for years I did all my mixing using a fork. The important thing is to make sure the lumps are gone.
Here's a tip for you. Without a whisk it can take ages for the lumps to go. Instead of beating it forever, pop the mix in the fridge and let it sit for a while. Do this for up to an hour if you like. Then whisk up with a fork and all lumps will simply have disappeared, soaked up by the liquid.
If you do the fridge thing, the batter may get a little too thick. Put in a little bit of water to get it back to the same consistency it was when you put it in the fridge.
Here's a handy little life hack I've picked up online. Keep squeezy bottles, for ketchup, sauce, or salad cream. You know the sort I mean. Thoroughly wash out, and then put the pancake batter in the bottle. It works well for storage, and makes squeezing out the right amount into the pan a total doddle.
What do you put on pancakes? My personal favourite is just a small knob of butter. Also, a splash of maple syrup - which incidentally is a fabulous sugar loaded with good healthy stuff and an ideal sugar-alternative for kids.
Both my husband and my eldest prefer a squirt of lemon juice and a little sprinkle of sugar. I always have lemon juice in the fridge as it is a great cleaner for fridges (you don't need much, mix with water) and a couple of teaspoons really brightens up whites. Fresh lemons are always best of course.
Cut back on the milk, mash up a banana and put that in with a half teaspoon of nutmeg for a yummy dessert pancake.
A dusting of icing sugar also works well here too.
And for a meal on its own, throw in loads of fruit. All your favourites. Yum.