Shrove Tuesday is on 13th February this year, and it’s the traditional start of Lent in the Christian calendar when households would use up their butter, flour and eggs before the 40-day fasting period began. Today, whether or not you observe the religious festival, the idea of ‘Pancake Day’ has really taken hold, and most people will treat themselves to their favourite pancake recipe.
But one essential element of the dish’s creation can flummox even the most experienced of cooks – the art of the pancake flip. All too often the pancake sticks fails to flip or lands on the floor! So how can you get the art right and perfect your pancakes this year?
Firstly, the flip tends to work best with thin pancakes or crepes. With a thicker pancake – which can be more like a Welsh cake or drop scone, depending on consistency – you can use a spatula to do a flip in the pan. However, the thin traditional pancake requires some artful wrist action!
To begin, make sure you just cook the pancake on one side first. You can test that it’s ready by giving the pan a shake and checking that it is coming away from the side. Then gently slide the pancake to the edge of the pan, take a deep breath and use a confident flicking motion from the wrist to toss the pancake upwards and catch it again for cooking on the other side. You can flip more than once if you like it well done.
The technique is much akin to stir-frying in a wok, but it is essential that you use sufficient oil or butter and a non-stick pan to prevent the batter from sticking – and a hot pan too so that the batter sizzles and cooks rapidly.
There are plenty of great non-stick pans available, whether you like a Teflon non-stick or a skillet-type pan. John Lewis always has a great selection of pans from leading brands, and many have extended warranties attached for peace of mind.
Another great destination to find the perfect pancake cooking equipment, from pans through to spatulas and mixing bowls, is Marks and Spencer. Look for pans of different sizes so that you can find one that isn’t too heavy for your wrist.
In terms of ingredients, you can buy a ready-made batter or the essential ingredients online for total ease. Try Ocado for a great selection or Sainsbury’s. Lemon is an essential filling with a little sugar, although some people swear by Nutella! Fancy something savoury in your pancake? Then how about mushrooms with soft cheese or melted mozzarella? You can make pancakes with different grain flours too if you prefer to avoid gluten, such as buckwheat pancakes.
Whatever your preferred pancake recipe, have some fun creating your own with the family and make an evening of it together for some special memories and a good opportunity to get busy in the kitchen.