Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Pancake madness

The Telegraph has a real bee in it’s bonnet about the UK’s growing fascination with pre-made pancake mixes and pancakes. It’s had a flurry of articles, some admiring the healthy growth of shop sales but most contemplating the [presumed dire] social significance of the phenomenon - the funniest being this satirical effort.

To me pancakes are one of the pleasures of a trip to France, where they seem to be a traditional part of street-food and fast food outlets. In the UK, we mostly ignore them until Shrove Tuesday when they become a big thing, despite most of us being extremely lapsed Christians. It’s all about the food, isn’t it?!

Why are we buying pre-made pancakes? Possibly because, like all cultural traditions, they have accumulated a mystique consisting of all kinds of conflicting rules and theories, guaranteed to confuse the low-skilled time-poor domestic cook.

Even Delia Smith, the patron saint of easy domestic cookery, rabbits on about sifting flour in piles, breaking eggs blah blah blah. In this regard I always remember my friend Mark’s approach - just bung all the ingredients (flour, milk, eggs) in a blender and flip the switch. Hey presto - pancake batter in seconds!

The next debate is whether or not to ‘rest’ the mixture. I’m with the resters - if the mix is in a blender jug it can just stay there for an hour or so until you are ready to start cooking.

Delia helpfully suggests using a soup ladle to ladle the mix into the hot frying pan - this is a really good idea and helps you gauge how much mix you need to cover the bottom of your pan. The first pancake is traditionally the sacrificial practice one, but no matter how disastrous looking always still tastes good!

And they really are pretty fantastic items - amazing that such relatively simple ingredients can achieve such a culinary peak experience. Crispy and golden, yet also meltingly yielding; fragile but with the tensile strength to wrap around a variety of fillings.

My pan is deep with sloping edges and a quick dipping motion is enough to get the pancake to flip. But it’s easy enough to use a spatula to flip them as well.

It was pancakes all the way last night - so I started with savory Roquefort cheese and spinach pancakes and moved on to the traditional lemon and sugar ones (still as amazingly good as when first made for me by my mum many years ago; pancakes have a real affinity for sharp citrussy flavours). The Nutella jar was eventually put away unused - too rich for me - but I experimented with a passion fruit decanted onto a pancake. Recommended.

The downside is they are very calorie-laden beasties, and like all fast food very more-ish - you can’t just have one or two. I had nine all told, which tots up well in excess of 1000 calories. Back to the diet today!


Jan said...

I've never managed to make batter as good as my mum's (she was also a 'rester')
The old lemon & sugar combo still my fave, but willing to consider passion fruit!

Hedgie said...

Yes, a tasty alternative Jan! I would remove the pips first though.