PANCAKE Day is here, and there couldn’t be an easier way to get kids excited about helping in the kitchen.
We always celebrate Pancake Day in our house and our elder two boys love lending a hand and having fun trying to flip the pancakes. They especially enjoy tucking in to the results of their hard work.
I love to see children getting excited about cooking and the process that goes into making something. Pancakes are perfect because they’re quick and fun to make. The young often have a short attention span, so the fast, easy steps that go into making the mixture, then cooking and flipping in the pan make them ideal.
The challenge when it comes to pancakes is getting the batter right. Too runny and the result will be undercooked, too thick and the middle doesn’t cook well. The key is to use just the right combination of milk and water and make sure the batter is really smooth. Checking the pan isn’t too hot also helps, as this will prevent the mix setting too fast.
My other trick is to add butter. It makes the mix a lot smoother, and means you don’t need to add a lot of butter when frying each pancake.
When the pan is hot enough you can start ladling in the mixture. Begin on a very low heat and increase as you go along to make them quicker. I usually pour a bit of mixture into the middle of the pan and tip it around to ensure it covers evenly. When the mixture has dried, the pancake is usually ready to toss. Try to use a spatula with a bit of flexibility in the blade as it makes it easier to turn the pancake.
Although we love to have a get-together on Shrove Tuesday, we enjoy preparing pancakes throughout the year. They can be a special treat for breakfast with fresh fruit, or make a substantial, savoury dinner. Most people think of pancakes as a sweet, sometimes unhealthy option, but if you add some savoury ingredients, you can create a healthy, delicious supper for the whole family. My wife Michaela likes to use wholemeal or buckwheat flour, which makes them even healthier and more filling. In her native Sweden they regularly eat pancakes on Thursdays so she’s a bit of an expert.
Sometimes when we’re entertaining we make up a big batch of pancakes and lay the table with different fillings from lemon, sugar and jam to smoked salmon, cream cheese and lovely Scottish cheeses. It’s a remarkably easy way to serve weekend brunch or lunch and everyone loves to get stuck in and make up their own favourite pancakes.
Pancake Day is a chance to put the fun back into making and enjoying good food with the whole family, especially if you try lots of different varieties, both savoury and sweet.
20g butter (melted and cooled)
150g plain flour
100g raisins (soaked in 50ml dark rum or other preferred liqueur, optional)
12 small bananas (halved lengthways)
50g caster sugar
6 scoops vanilla ice cream
Combine and whisk together the melted butter, flour, milk and egg to create a smooth batter, then set aside. Melt the sugar in a heavy-based pan to dissolve and create a dark caramel. Once the caramel has formed, gently place the banana slices into the caramel, being careful not to burn your fingers. Cook the bananas until golden brown on both sides. Set aside in a warm place.
Melt a little butter in a pancake skillet or non-stick frying pan. When hot, ladle a small amount of batter into the pan and swirl it around quickly before it sets to create a thin pancake or crêpe. Once brown on one side, flip the pancake over to brown on the other side.
Leave to cool on a wire rack while cooking the remaining pancakes. Once the batter is used up, warm the pancakes in a low oven, then place each one on a plate with a banana on top and wrap or roll it up. Sprinkle with the raisins and drizzle with the caramel from the pan. Add a scoop of ice cream to finish.
SMOKED SALMON BLINIS
400g smoked salmon
100g crème fraîche
small bunch chives (chopped)
small bunch picked dill leaves
1 lemon cut into wedges
cracked black pepper
3 tbsp of salmon roe
For the buckwheat blinis
150g plain flour
75g buckwheat flour
10g fresh yeast
300ml warm milk – not too hot
1 egg yolk
3 egg whites
20g butter (melted and cooled)
Mix the plain flour, buckwheat flour, yeast, sugar, warm milk and egg yolk together in a bowl and leave to prove for 20 minutes in a warm place. Once proven, whip the egg whites until stiff and then fold into the proven batter. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium high heat, then add the batter in teaspoonfuls and cook until bubbles rise to the top. Flip each blini and cook for another minute or so on the other side, until golden brown.
Layer blinis with crème fraîche and salmon slices to create a stack. Spoon some salmon roe on each stack, garnish with lemon wedges, chives and dill. Sprinkle with black pepper.
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