This week we saw a major increase in our calorie intake. The Vegetarian, (daughter, 12, occasionally hormonally high maintenance, always positive and proactive), requested pancakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner on Pancake Day. In the finish we agreed on pancakes for pudding on Pancake Eve (my new invention, not sure it will take off…), scotch pancakes for breakfast, quesadillas for dinner and the pièce de résistance: American pancakes with caramelised strawberries and bananas for dessert.
Aptly, as this would require several eggs, we are the proud owners of four pet chickens who provide us with several eggs each day of varying shapes, colours and sizes!
Above are this week’s egg-haul, post pancake intake and the Vegetarian holding Ivy the speckled chicken. I’m sure many of you will be able to name Ivy’s breed but when we visited the farm to collect the chickens we were purely looks driven and picked one of each colour, so that each child would be able to pick out their very own. Pets are an extremely handy way of drawing a blended family together, (top step-parenting tip #1!). One day I’ll tell you the other three chickens’ names but right now… I’m too embarrassed to divulge. Suffice it to say I am hugely relieved that I didn’t invite the children to name our Pug puppy a few years back!
Back to the pancakes, on Pancake Eve we indulged in the standard basic pancakes, (egg, flour, milk, mix, fry, flip… Well cautiously turn over using at least one metal spatula if not two and even then to varying degrees of success). There was a range of toppings enjoyed: lemon and sugar, (my all time favourite), Nutella chocolate spread, golden syrup, maple syrup and then a new one for this year: Marshmallow Fluff! If you’ve not heard of or sampled Marshmallow Fluff I suggest you leave it that way, it is exactly what it sounds like, a tub of fluffy, runny marshmallows and creates some kind of claggy, sticky sensation in your mouth and ultimately a significant amount of sugary white residue around your lips and teeth… Not the best look!
The quesadillas were… meh… not for me, a recipe that needs a rework. A quesadilla is almost like a toasted sandwich using tortillas as the bread and any form of filling you fancy. We used oven-roasted salmon, sweet red peppers and mozzarella cheese. The quesadilla can be baked in the oven or fried on both sides in a frying pan until the tortillas are crisp, the filling is hot and the cheese is melted. Quesadillas can also be made using… pancakes! I think this may have been where it went wrong for me as I’m a sweet pancake fan more than savoury. The Veggie, the Gourmand and Mr HDD wolfed them down though and gave decent reviews.
Then we had the dessert…
I love American style pancakes. It could be because I am sure the first thing I will do when we one day visit America is sit in a diner and devour a plate of traditional pancakes with maple syrup and bacon. It could be because these pancakes are thicker and spongier and therefore soak up the syrupy sauce you drizzle across them more satisfactorily meaning you can reasonably add more. It could be because the stack is visually so appealing. And it could be because they are so EASY to make and better yet keep warm so everyone can eat them at the same sitting. Very handy when you are feeding half a dozen pancake fans. Yes, pancakes are enjoyed by everyone in our house… this never happens!
For the pancakes
- 200g self-raising flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp golden caster sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 25g melted butter, plus more to grease frying pan
- 200ml milk
- Drizzle of oil, sunflower or vegetable are best
For the topping
- 3 bananas, sliced
- 200g strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 3 tbsp golden caster sugar
- Maple syrup, the amount will depend on personal preference!
- Make the pancake batter by mixing the flour, baking powder, sugar and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, crack in the eggs, milk and melted butter into this well, ensuring the butter isn’t straight out of the microwave or it will begin to cook the eggs.Whisk the wet ingredients together, gradually drawing in the dry ones from the edges. I begin doing this by hand and then switch to an electric whisk or food mixer. Keep going until you have a smooth thick batter without lumps.
- Set the oven to its lowest setting and pop a plate or baking tray in there. Heat a knob of butter and a small drizzle of oil in a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan. Use a medium heat or the pancakes may catch slightly. Once the butter is foaming spoon, pour or ladle rounds of batter into the pan. I used a large serving spoon and cooked the pancakes in threes. Don’t worry if the first few attempts do not resemble a circular shape, they still taste just as good and you will get better as you go! Cook the pancakes for approx 1-2 minutes before turning them over using a metal spatula and cook for a further minute. They will resemble a golden… pancake colour! Pop them onto the warming plate in the oven and keep going until all the batter has been used up. I made 14 pancakes this week using the ingredients above.
- Once all the pancakes are cooked, wipe the pan clean and pop the sugar into the pan still over the heat. As the sugar begins to melt and bubble add the fruit and a generous squeeze of maple syrup. Toss it around the pan for a few minutes until it resembles a caramelised fruity syrup. Don’t worry if the sugar hardens into a chunk, you might be able to loosen it with more maple syrup or some water or just spoon it out and dispose of when it’s cold. Do not try to eat it, it will be too hard on the teeth and too hot on the tongue!
- Serve the pancakes stacked as high as you like and drizzled with the fruit and juices from the pan as well as more maple syrup if you fancy it.
These pancakes are delicious and also make a really decadent Sunday morning breakfast. You can use any toppings or fruit you fancy. Interestingly one of the few things the Gourmand isn’t so keen on are bananas so these were unceremoniously speared onto the Vegetarian’s plate and the Fusspot doesn’t really do fruit… or caramel so his pancakes were eaten like an upmarket sandwich thickly smeared with Nutella!
As for the true meaning behind Pancake Day, or rather Shrove Tuesday: beginning of Lent; historically the emptying of certain food items from cupboards and fridges (eggs, milk, sugar), hence the need for pancakes? The Vegetarian, ever keen to do the ‘right’ thing, chose to eradicate fizzy drinks and chocolate from her diet until Easter. On Day One she mindlessly took a sip of my fizzy drink (my fault, apparently) and on Day Two I put a slice of red velvet chocolate cake in her lunch box which she ‘had to eat or you would be offended’ (my fault, definitely)! Hopefully other people are sticking to their Lent self-denials with more success than us?
Happy Eating All!