Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pretty good pancakes

Pancakes are one of those magic creations that use only a few simple ingredients - flour, eggs, milk, butter. But I'm a newcomer to making them. This is because Harvey used to always be the one who made them, and he was very good at it.
         When he had to stop, for ages he didn't feel like anything brunchy, but lately he's had the urge for mid-morning Saturday pancakes again, which is great. So I've been making them under his guidance. Only that sounds much tidier than what really happened the first time I had a go.
           First I asked where the recipe was. "I just use the Edmond's one", he said. So I got it out and showed it to him, because I've learnt from long experience that he doesn't often follow a recipe exactly. Sure enough, he used self-raising flour instead of flour and baking powder, he always used two eggs, and he added "a bit of melted butter". How much, I asked. "Just a bit." Gritting my teeth, I cut off a lump about the size of a walnut and showed it to him. Yes, he said, that was about right.
            I mixed it all together. "Don't mix it too much", he said. "But you said it had to be a really smooth batter." "Yes, but the lumps disappear while you leave it to stand." "It doesn't say anything about leaving it to stand." "Well, I always do." :How long for?" "Oh, about half an hour."
            I didn't say a word. I just went off and made myself some toast and peanut butter to keep me going while I waited.
            Fortunately we've now got a big Tefal non-stick pan which keeps an even heat and makes really good ones, even on a gas hob. So after the half hour was up I heated it up and got to work. I had to make two different kinds of pancake, because we've always disagreed about how they should be - Harvey likes one giant thickish one, I like two or three thin ones. We both have lemon juice on them, but he likes white sugar, whereas I prefer golden syrup or brown sugar.

            I actually managed to toss them all beautifully - even Harvey was impressed.

Harvey's pancakes (enough for 4 thin ones or 2 big thick ones)
125 grams self-raising flour (it does work better if you weigh rather than measure - this is about one cup plus a heaped tablespoon)
1/8 tsp salt
2 eggs
300 ml (half a pint) milk
Walnut-sized knob of butter, melted
Butter for cooking

Sift the flour and salt together into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and drop the eggs in, then add milk, and mix gently to make a thin batter. Add melted knob of butter and mix in well. Pour into a jug and leave to stand for half an hour. Meanwhile, get the toppings ready and have the plates ready to warm just before you start cooking.

Heat non-stick pan until hot. Melt a little butter in it, pushing it over the bottom with a non-stick slice. Pour in a little batter and tip the pan to let it flow evenly out to the edges. (If you want a thick one pour in more to start with.) Cook over medium heat until several little bubbles form over the surface. Loosen around the edges with the slice and flip it over - tossing is the easiest way to do this. Turn the heat down a little and cook the other side until it looks a bit brown when you lift the edges. Put on a hot plate, spread with whatever you fancy, roll it up and eat it. Repeat until the batter's all gone.


AWOL said...

I love your description of extracting the pancake recipe from Harvey! It reminds me of similar conversations with my mother, a creative and instinctive cook who would add 'a bit of this and a bit of that', depending on her mood and what was to hand. Frustrating for the learner cook, but I must have absorbed many of her techniques without realising it. Now when my own daughters want to know how to cook a family favourite, I sometimes have to tell them: 'I'll find out next time I make it, and write it down for you.'
PS Your pancake looks wonderful! Perfectly cooked, and with that lovely lacy texture.

AnneE said...

Thank you! It's so heartwrming to get such appreciative comments.

Plain Jane said...

Thanks for the recipe, Harvey and Anne. Pancakes have been on mind as I was recently given a beautiful amber bottle of organic Canadian maple syrup. Now I'm ready to go.