February 21 will see people around the world celebrating Pancake Tuesday, which traditionally signalled the last day of ‘feasting’ before the 40-day Christian fasting period of Lent. If you’ve never tried making pancakes before, this is a great day to start; for those of us who haven’t made them in a while, Pancake Tuesday is the perfect day to do so.
The consistency and structure of pancakes varies worldwide so that a French crepe is entirely different from an American flapjack or a Greek tiganite in both look and flavour. Pancakes can be consumed with sweet and savoury fillings and are just as easily eaten on their own with a drizzle of maple syrup, as they are with chocolate sauce, strawberries and cream, or with chicken and vegetables. This diversity is what makes them the perfect breakfast food, light snack, a wholesome and filling lunch or dinner, or a delicious dessert
While basic pancake recipes can be found in abundance, try these two variations on the pancake theme to tickle your taste buds.
Crepe Suzette is a French dessert consisting of the crepe (a very thin pancake) and a sauce of caramelised sugar, butter, orange juice and zest. The origins of the dish have been disputed with some saying that it was created for Queen Victoria’s granddaughter Suzanne on her visit to France, while others suggest that it was named after the French actress Suzanne Reichenberg whose screen name was Suzette. Regardless of the inspiration, we know that the dish came into being in the late 1890s.
For the crêpes 110g plain flour, sifted A pinch of salt 2 eggs 200ml milk mixed with 75ml water 50g butter 1 medium orange, grated zest only 1 tbsp caster sugar
For the sauce 150ml orange juice (from 3-4 medium oranges) 1 medium orange, grated zest only 1 small lemon, grated rind and juice 1 tbsp caster sugar 50g/2oz unsalted butter
Method Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour and break the eggs into it and whisk well until the flour mixture is fully incorporated with the eggs. Gradually add small quantities of the milk and water mixture and continue whisking.
Melt the butter in a pan and add two tablespoons of it to the mixture along with the orange zest and caster sugar and mix well (reserve the rest of the butter).
Heat a frying pan until it is extremely hot and then turn the heat down to medium. Bunch up some kitchen paper, dip it into the reserved melted butter and use it to lubricate the frying pan.
Use a ladle to get enough batter to coat the base of the pan. You may have to tip the pan from side to side to ensure that the base is evenly covered. As soon as tiny bubbles start to form on the surface, flip the pancake over with a flat spatula or palette knife. Once the other side is cooked, slide it on to a plate. Continue in the same way, stacking the crepes on top of each other with sheets of butter paper in between.
For the sauce, mix all the ingredients except the butter in a bowl. Melt the butter in a frying pan and then pour in the sauce, allowing it to gently heat through.
Place a crepe on the frying pan, fold it in half with a spatula and then fold in half again so it makes a triangular shape. Slide the crepe to the edge of the frying pan and tip the sauce back to the centre and add another crepe.
Continue in this manner until all the crepes are folded and soaked in sauce. Put the crepes on warmed plates and serve at once.
Savoury chicken and mushroom pancakes
If you’re going to do a savoury pancake, say for a high tea, a brunch or even for dinner, there’s nothing quite like a comforting chicken and mushroom filling.
For the savoury pancakes 125g plain white flour A pinch of salt 1 egg 300ml milk 1 tbsp oil More oil for frying
For the chicken and mushroom filling 440g cooked, diced chicken 30g butter 30g flour 500ml chicken stock 100ml cream 100g sliced mushrooms 1 tbsp chopped parsley 300g grated cheddar cheese
Method Sift the flour and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, add the egg and a bit of milk and whisk well. Add in the remaining milk and the oil and mix well. Cover the batter and leave in the fridge for 20 minutes. Follow the instructions from the Crepe Suzette recipe (above) to cook the pancakes and stack them between sheets of butter paper.
To make the filling, melt the butter in a saucepan, allow to cool and add the chicken stock a little at a time and mix well. When all the stock is mixed, cook for 20 minutes. Reserve half of this sauce in a small bowl.
To the sauce in the saucepan, add the mushrooms, chicken and enough cream so that the sauce is not runny and cook for two minutes.
Fill each pancake with a little of the mixture and roll it up before placing into a lightly greased oven dish. Reheat the reserved sauce and pour it over the pancakes. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese on the top and bake in a hot oven until the cheese is melted and golden.