Mardi Gras, literally translated as Fat Tuesday is also known as Shrove Tuesday or Tuesday of Carnival around the world but in my house it’s always been known as Pancake Tuesday and will be celebrated on the 8th of March this year. The build-up and anticipation has begun. In fact there’s been a lot of practicing going on and this year I’m delighted that some of the kids will step up to the pan themselves and make their own.
What you chose to top your pancake with is a very personal thing. For me, you cannot beat a little butter melting onto it with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of caster sugar. I have tried savoury pancakes but on pancake Tuesday they have to be sweet for me. A pancake on its own is an uninspired thing, it begs frippery, flounces and heavy-handed embellishment.
For some it’s a heavy smearing of Nutella, for others it’s sliced banana with ice-cream and today I’ve tested a few new topping combinations. As well as trying out the toppings, I also put the ‘Perfect Pancakes – Pancake Flour’ by Odlums to the test versus a recipe from Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course book. There was honestly no discernible difference. With the Odlums mix you’re getting a packet of flour basically that has some raising agents and salt added. With Darina’s recipe you’re using plain flour and adding the salt yourself and no raising agent. Darina recommends using a mixture of water and milk for a lighter batter so I did this but I found the Odlums ones to be just as light, perhaps that’s because Darina’s is heavier on the eggs.
In my view I’ve concluded that the pancake story is all about the toppings really and not about the batter.
This tip from Darina Allen is invaluable : add 6-8 teaspoons of melted butter to the batter just before you cook the pancakes.
This means that you do not need to oil or butter the pan in between making pancakes and speeds up the whole process.
Recipe below based on Darina Allen’s Pancake Batter
(Makes 12 Pancakes)
You will need:
175g white flour
good pinch salt
2 large eggs and 2 egg yolks
225ml milk (you could use 425ml milk instead of adding water)
6-8 teaspoons melted butter
Place the flour in a bowl and add in the salt
Lightly beat the eggs in a separate bowl with the egg yolks
Mix the milk and water together in a jug
Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the beaten eggs
Using a whisk begin to draw in the flour from the edges
Gradually begin to add the milk/water a bit at a time continuing to whisk until a smooth batter is formed
When you have whisked the batter enough, bubbles should be forming on the top of the batter
Place the batter in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to an hour
When you are ready to begin cooking, heat a non-stick frying pan over a high heat on the hob
Melt the butter and stir it into the batter
Lift the pan off the heat and use a ladle to pour a thin layer of batter onto the pan swirling the pan so that the batter spreads out
Place the pan back on the heat and cook until the edges are starting to crisp up and little bubbly air marks appear in the batter (less than a minute)
Use a spatula to turn the pancake over and the second side will cook even faster so be vigilant.
You can stack the pancakes one on top of another on a plate as you cook them and they will peel apart easily later (if they survive that long!)
Of the three toppings I tested today my favourite is the combination of wicked tripple chocolate ice-cream with virtuously innocent sweet green grapes. The recipes for the other toppings I used were previously posted : Brandy Pear(http://gimmetherecipe.com/2011/02/10/pear-brandy-galette/) and dark cherries with a creme de cassis syrup. (http://gimmetherecipe.com/2011/02/08/trio-of-valentines-millefeuille-hearts/)
If you’ve time to leave a comment below I’d love to know your favourite toppings.
Til next time, Sheila.