Chef and regular blogger Beca Lyne-Pirkis reminisces about Pancake Days past and offers her tips on making the perfect batch
Shrove Tuesday – or Pancake Day, as it’s more affectionately known – conjures up fond memories for many of us. I remember rushing to my nan’s house after school, knowing she’d be poised and ready to make batter with me before the mammoth pancake making session began. Sibling rivalry would be at its peak – as nan knocked out an endless supply of pancakes, we embarked on an unspoken challenge of trying to fill, roll and eat the piping hot pancake before she had finished making the next. Then it would be the tussle between my brother and me as to who would have the next pancake.
This mad evening of making, flipping and eating would continue until we could eat no more, with us both declaring it a tie as to who had eaten the most.
Roll on the university years and it was my turn to stand in the kitchen, making pancakes for my roommates. Frying pan in one hand, cockily tossing a pancake while swigging from an overly-filled glass of wine held in the other.
Sheer dizzying joy
Then there was that time – probably more than once by now – where I set myself the challenge of eating pancakes or pancake-like dishes for every meal throughout the day. The sheer dizzying joy of doing so felt rather naughty – as if you’re five years old and have been allowed to eat whatever you want because your parents aren’t there.
I’d obviously start with American-style pancakes, a fluffy stack of around three or four, slathered in butter, drizzled in syrup and adorned with berries. Having spent time lovingly making the batter, the activity of devouring would take minutes, if not seconds. Lunch would be a simple galettes de sarrasin, a thin crepe-like pancake made using buckwheat flour and filled with a soft fried egg and either some wilted buttery spinach or something a little more croque madame, with ham and cheese nestled under the egg. Delicious.
You may find time mid-afternoon to squeeze in one extra pancake recipe before supper; the perfect teatime treat of drop scones served with butter and sugar and a strong cup of tea. Supper would be a climax of as many traditional pancakes you can eat. First, I’d start with two or three savoury-filled pancakes, before rounding off Pancake Day with a couple of classic lemon and sugar numbers, or maybe even banana, brown sugar and rum with a scoop of ice cream.
Sweet and nutty
A basic recipe consists of flour, eggs, a pinch of salt and milk or half milk and half water. When it comes to flour, you can pretty much use whatever’s in your cupboard – blitzing oats in the food processor is a good substitute if you don’t have any, and can also be gluten free, depending on your oats. Alternatively, I like the slightly sweet and nutty taste you get from using spelt flour in my American-style pancakes.
Don’t worry if the first pancake isn’t quite Instagram picture perfect. Use the first pancake to test the heat and to test the quality of the pancakes – chef’s perk!