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Pancake Tuesday: Perfect recipe for making an easy, better batter

Shrove Tuesday: Use a good pan and have kitchen roll to hand, advises Catherine Cleary

Like everything else in life, pancakes seem to have become more complicated. In our house they’re simple. If the question is: “What’s for lunch” the routine answer is pancakes.

There is a visual allure to a stack of thick American pancakes, but they’re too fluffy for me. I must say, I do like my pancakes silky and elastic. Air is the enemy of this skin-thin French-style crepe. The food bible Larousse recommends letting your batter stand so it will breathe out any air beaten into it before you dream of pouring it on to the pan.

A good pan makes good pancakes.

A dollop of sunflower oil heated and then wiped with a piece of kitchen roll leaves just a glossy sheen, to avoid oily-pancake syndrome. Keep the kitchen roll to hand to regrease the pan between pancakes.


Flipping is best tried after you’ve first worked the pancake free with a fish slice.

Ensure both sides are cooked first unless you want to pebble-dash yourself with batter.

A traditional savoury filling is a bechamel sauce with ham or mushrooms, but that can feel too glutenous for some.

Try mushrooms and finely chopped shallots fried in butter, then mixed with a dollop of creme fraiche at the end and a good grating of Gruyere and flat-leaf parsley.

Sweet pancakes need lemon juice (from a lemon, not a bottle) and caster sugar or maple syrup.

Toasted almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts also work with a drizzle of caramel sauce, to give you the melted-Snickers-bar effect without the calorie load.

Flippin’ perfect pancake recipe

This quantity makes up to three medium pancakes (a good suggested serving per person)

  • 120g flour (plain or wholemeal)
  • 1 large egg
  • 200ml low-fat milk
  • Sunflower oil
  • (Substitute buckwheat flour if you want gluten-free galettes, or almond milk if you want a dairy-free version.)
  • 1 Beat the egg into the flour and add the milk, whisking to a creamy consistency. If you have time, let the mixture stand in a jug in the fridge for up to an hour.
  • 2 Heat the oil in the pan, then wipe off the excess, to leave a light coating.
  • 3 Pour enough batter to fill the centre half of the pan and tilt it to let the batter fill out the space.
  • 4 Cook the first side until the top is no longer liquid. The second side will need less time. Golden brown is the desired finish.
  • 5 Stack on a plate over a bubbling pot of hot water to keep them warm. (They’ll dry out in the oven.)