While many often turn to ready-made pancake mix – Aunt Jemimas, invented in Missouri in 1889, has been sold for centuries – cooking the dish from scratch is actually incredibly simple.
It is a sad fact of life, but the first pancake never works. The first of any batch I make is a sad flaccid rag, too soft to even contemplate tossing: usually gobbled up by my teenage son, more from pity than hunger, I suspect. But, get the right kit, and follow these simple tips, and you’ll soon have a stack of triumphant pancakes piled up.
The problem, generally, is that the pan is not hot enough. To make a successful pancake, it should be shimmeringly hot, so that a few drops of water flicked on to the surface skitter like pinballs before evaporating.
The second pancake is generally more like it, neat and firm enough to be tossed. Sure, you can turn it with a spatula or fish slice, but where’s the fun in that?
There is an art to the perfect pancake – just read on.
How to make perfect pancakes for Shrove Tuesday
Butter gives the best flavour, but the pan needs to be so hot that it is bound to go brown. I don’t mind this but there are ways to minimise the effect:
- Use only a tiny coating of butter. Rather than dolloping it into the pan, use a heat-proof silicon pastry brush to paint soft or melted butter onto the surface of the pan.
- Use either unsalted butter, which has a lower whey content and burns less easily, or a mix of butter and oil, which is also less likely to burn.
- Clarify the butter first, by melting it in a small pan. When it is bubbling, the yellow butter fat will rise to the surface, with a milky liquid beneath. Carefully skim off the milky part, and pour the clarified butter beneath into a pot.
Supermarkets often sell bargain pancake pans with non-stick surfaces and a low lip. While non-stick, at first, is an easy way to make successful pancakes, the pan is of little use for anything else. And, in truth, that non-stick makes me grumpy, even (and especially) on expensive pans.