Pancakes are a rare treat in the UK, saved mainly for Shrove Tuesday, however as brunch is becoming a more popular time to sit down to eat, pancakes are cropping up on menus more and more. In countries such as France, America, Canada, and Turkey, they are eaten most days in both a sweet and savoury capacity.


There is a history of pancakes dating back to 600 BC in Ancient Greece, the recipe they called Teganitai, isn’t too dissimilar as to how we make them today.


Types of Pancakes


There are three iconic pancakes; soft, fluffy American pancakes, thin, sweet French crêpes, and wholesome, stodgy Scotch pancakes. The crêpe is the most universally known pancake as it cooks quickly and is wonderfully delicious with savoury fillings such as cream cheese and spinach, it is also not too distant from an Indian Chapati so can be used as a substitute at a pinch. You can also easily make really healthy, protein-packed pancakes from mashed bananas, these are an ideal breakfast for anyone wanting to maintain a healthy lifestyle, they are also fantastic for babies and toddlers who are learning to feed themselves.


Each style of pancake is iconic in its own unique way. When we picture American pancakes we imagine a large knob of butter, resting on top of a stack of golden pancakes, dripping with warm maple syrup, with crisp strips of salty bacon resting up against them. American pancakes are super calorific on their own thanks to a large amount of butter, sugar, and eggs needed to produce such a fine item.


Crêpes are often thought of as being a lighter choice, when served as a sweet they often come alongside fruits and lightly whipped cream. The magnificent, legendary dessert Crêpes Suzette was invented by an aspiring 14-year-old chef completely by accident, the dish was presented to the Prince of Wales, then later became one of France’s most iconic dishes.


Scotch Pancakes, or drop scones, are fairly similar to American-style pancakes, as they are traditionally quite thick, with a fluffy centre. These lovely little Scottish cakes were created as a way to use up all forbidden luxury ingredients before Lent such as; sugar, eggs, and oil. Unlike their American cousins, Scotch pancakes contain much less milk and sugar, they also only use 1 egg and do not contain additional raising agents like baking powder.


How to Make the Perfect Pancake on the Stove


All pancakes basically follow the same process, only the cooking times vary and a few ingredients. Once you learn how to confidently cook one style of pancake, the rest will come naturally. We will look at how to make American pancakes as they are the easiest to describe as perfect, purely because of how stunning they look on a plate, they are the epitome of a luxurious treat, they are also probably the hardest to execute well.


To start off, sift into a bowl 200g of flour – self-raising flour is best, but plain will work too. Add 1 ½ tsp of baking powder, 1 heaped tbsp of caster sugar, 25g melted unsalted butter, 3 eggs, 200ml of milk, and an optional addition is a drop of vanilla essence. Whisk it all together until you have a smooth, custard-like consistency.


When making pancakes you want to have a stack of them, however, it can be difficult especially for beginners to cook more than one pancake at a time, therefore we recommend heating the oven at a low temperature so that the pancakes can be kept warm once cooked, then you can focus on making each individual pancake perfectly.


Place a frying pan onto the stove on low heat, you want the pan to cook the entire pancake evenly and slowly, they can burn really quickly so having a low heat will assist in preventing this. Add a small amount of oil to the pan, no more than a teaspoon, once that is hot you can start to drop in your mixture. To create even pancakes it is a good idea to use a ladle or very large spoon, you can now also buy pancake moulds in different shapes and sizes – these can be difficult to get out of the pan to enable you to flip the pancake before it burns so using a ladle is our preferred method.


Once the bottom side of the pancake is cooked, the top layer will start to bubble slightly, this is your cue to flip the pancake. If at this stage you would like to add additional ingredients to the pancake such as blueberries or chocolate chips, now is the time to do so. You can decide to add a little flair, especially in front of company, by tossing the pan slightly away from you in an upwards direction, or alternatively, you can use a spatula to flip with ease. There is no indicator as to when the bottom of the pancake is cooked, however, after a minute it will be sturdy enough for you to lift it to check how golden the bottom is. Place the cooked pancake onto a plate, before placing it into the oven to keep warm as you continue to make the rest of your stack.


For a really special treat, we like to allow for 3-4 pancakes per person, as the cooking process is quite quick, this can be achieved within a short space of time, especially once you have had a few practice rounds and feel comfortable enough to cook multiple cakes in the same pan.


Serving Your Pancake


There are no rules against what you can and cannot put on a pancake, some of the best flavour combinations are the quirkiest. Many people like to keep their pancake toppings simple with just a squeeze of lemon and dusting of sugar, whereas others enjoy packing as much on top as they can. If you are craving something really sickly sweet then a combination of peanut butter, chocolate spread, and bananas is fantastic, especially when topped with a few crushed hazelnuts. If you want to kid yourself into thinking you can make a pancake healthy then natural yogurt with berry compote is a delightful fusion, this can be topped with chia seeds for additional benefits. Alternatively, savoury pancakes can be just as delicious as sweet, simply stuffed with ham and cheese, smoked salmon and cream cheese, or even garlicky creamed mushrooms.