Shrove Tuesday, or ‘pancake day’, is always a big hit with the kids. Simple recipe, lots of mess, yummy results and, of course, that all important ‘flip’ conspire to make for one of the more memorable calendar dates.
But it’s easy to get stuck in a rut, working to the same old methodology year after year. A squeeze of lemon, a splodge of Nutella, or a handful of grated cheese for the savoury fans, and you’re done.
This year, why don’t we mix things up a bit by getting a little more creative? We’ve got some ideas below but, first, here’s the basic recipe…
How To Cook A Simple Pancake
You Need: 200g of plain flour, 2 large eggs, 400ml of milk and some oil (I prefer simple vegetable oil for this; olive oil can taste a bit weird on pancake). You can also make the batter thinner (more milk or less flour) if you prefer, but this gives a nice, rich pancake.
Make The Batter: Whisk the eggs and mix with the other ingredients. Add a pinch of salt if you’re going down a savoury route, or sugar if you favour a sweet pancake.
Add The Batter: Heat a small frying pan until it's very hot, THEN add a small amount of the oil. Make sure it coats the whole of the bottom (I use a pastry bush to quickly spread it round). Add a ladle’s-worth of batter and tilt the pan around so that the mix settles into a thin layer.
Fry The Batter: It’ll take about a minute to cook, depending how hot you’ve got the pan, and how thick the batter. Loosen the underside with a plastic spatula.
Flip The Pancake: Yeah, it’ll probably go a bit wrong, but who cares? Having a laugh is the most important thing.
Fry The Second Side: Once you’ve muddled the thing over, give it another 20 seconds or so to cook on the other side. If the first one looks a bit rubbish, don’t lose heart. My first pancake is invariably a bit rubbish. I do not know why. The second one always turns out better. This is the way.
Now you’re ready to turn your fried batter into a disc of wonder, with one of these imaginative ideas:
1. Cookie-Cutter Pancakes
Your traditional pancake is a simple disc-shape, following the profile of the frying pan from whence it came. It may get folded over into a semi-circle or rolled into a tube, but nothing more imaginative. We can move into bold new realms by using pastry cutters to make novel shapes. All you have to do is fry the pancake as normal, slide the disc onto a chopping board, wait a few minutes for the surface oil to cool, then carefully press out your shapes with the cutter. This simple wheeze also makes it more likely a small child will eat the pancake, without you having to resort to covering it in lashings of chocolate goo.
2. Multi-Storey Pancakes
Can’t decide whether to go for the maple syrup or the Biscoff? Do both. Just make three pancakes (or four, or five) and stack them, with the desired filling in-between layers.
3. Make A Pancake Face
Another guaranteed way to excite the children is to turn their batter-based meal into a face. There are two schools of thought on how best to do this. You could cook a traditional full-pan pancake to fill the plate, then decorate it with fruit, syrups, sprinkles or whatever for the facial features. Alternatively, you could fry up mini-pancakes (or use cookie cutters) so that the eyes, nose and/or mouth are each made of separate pancakes, as suggested by this under-ambitious stock photo:
4. International Pancakes
Because the basic pancake is such a cinch to make, it has evolved and flourished around the world into countless regional variations. Americans favour syrup-and-bacon-laden constructions, the French have a whole crepe culture, while many Brits, largely thanks to a 1980s marketing campaign, simply squeeze on some pre-packaged lemon juice, and sugar.
Hunt around, though, and you’ll find recipes for some lesser known variations on the humble pancake. Try making Japanese Okonomiyaki, savoury pancakes that can include seafood, ginger and soy. Or how about Russian blini, which contain yeast for a spongier feel. Swedish Raggmunk are part-pancake, part-fritter, while the well-known Indian dosa uses rice and gram flour. Like using a metal spatula in a non-stick frying pan, this is just scratching the surface.
5. Coloured Pancakes
Adding a drop of food colouring is perhaps the best return-on-investment option for novelty pancakes. You don’t need to do anything different from the basic recipe, other than add two drops of the desired colour at the batter-making stage. If you happen to have a range of colours to hand, you could even separate small aliquots of batter mixture and give them different hues. I can fry a rainbow.
6. Griddled Pancakes
Another quick win is to fry the pancake in a griddle pan. You’ll need to make sure it’s well oiled, as the batter is more likely to adhere to the ridges. But get it right, and you’ll end up with beautiful bronzed bands across your pancake.
7. Push The Boat Out With Some Proper Serious Cooking
Of course, if you want to try something more taxing, then there are many more sophisticated ways to better your batter. Try our flippin brilliant guides to savoury pancakes and American blueberry pancakes.
At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.
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Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.
Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.
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