Pancake Day always seems like one of those funny little things from our childhood that we can’t quite let go. As winter quietly slips into spring, and the days begin to get a little lighter at teatime, we look forward our annual batter meal.
The origins of pancake day come from the Christian tradition of the 40 days of Lent leading up to Easter. It represents time that Jesus was said to have spent in reflection in the desert, as well as the days leading up to his return to Jerusalem to face the trial and crucifixion marked by Easter itself.
Since Lent is a period of fasting, the day before was the final opportunity for a feast of tasty and filling foods. These days many people use it as an opportunity to give up a bad habits, or maybe change some aspect of their life.
We’ve got a great recipe from Fiona Michie at The Yorkshire Times for pancakes that taste just like my mum used to make. As kids we’d squeeze oranges onto them and then sprinkle a little sugar on top before wolfing them down. Whether you like yours plain and simple, or folded, rolled, and stuffed full of cream, jam, fruit and chocolate, Fiona’s hand-me-down recipe will see you right.
4 oz plain flour
½ pint milk – whole is best but skimmed and semi-skimmed work fine too
½ tsp fine salt
butter for frying
1. Put all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl
2. Using a balloon whisk, electric whisk, or one of those hand cranked double whisks, whisk the ingredients into a smooth batter. Make sure there are no lumps and you want bubbles on the surface, get as much air in there as you can
3. Heat a flat bottomed pancake pan / skillet / small frying pan over a medium heat
4. Add an almond-sized piece of butter and roll it around to cover the pan with a thin layer of butter
5. Pour in just enough batter to make a thin pancake – the trick is to move the batter around as soon as it hits the pan by tipping the pan both ways and rolling your wrist in a sort of circular motion so that you get the full circle of the pan covered
6. Allow to cook until the pancake is loose enough to move when shaken forward and back (pancake cooking is all in the wrist)
7. Now flip it. Shake loose with the forward/back wrist motion and toss it up. Your arm should create a sort of circle moving away from you, up and back to catch. Don’t be tentative, be bold and confident or you will end up with semi-folded messes rather than decent pancakes. Of course you can turn them with a spatula, but where’s the fun in that?
8. Cook on the other side for a very short time (toss again if you dare, to see how it’s doing)
9. Tip on to a plate and add your choice of fillings