It’s Shrove Tuesday. For some this simply means pancakes, for others it means the start of Lent and therefore the giving up of chocolate / booze / cake / whatever. For me it means the countdown to Easter and therefore the countdown to Spring. I can almost taste the roast lamb already.
Pancakes in my house have always meant thinnish crepes, anointed with fresh lemon and caster sugar. But I do have a soft spot for Australian ricotta hotcakes and also soft, bouncy American pancakes, the kind that come in stacks with maple syrup, blueberries and crispy grilled streaky bacon.
I first came across these about 14 years ago in a youth hostel somewhere in California, where a big bowl of batter was left by the griddle for guests to make their own: and so began a love affair with American-style baking. Incidentally, my sister-in-law is queen of the American pancake, but then she is from New York so that’s as it should be. Of course she just calls them ‘pancakes’.
If I have fresh blueberries on hand, I sometimes drop them into the batter just after it’s been spooned into the pan. Here’s my recipe.
110g plain flour
1 and 1/2 level tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp caster sugar
1 large egg
Knob of butter
Optional: fresh blueberries
Put flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, add the egg and milk and whisk into a thick and smooth batter. At this point you can leave it for 10 minutes or so, whilst you sort out your frying pan, syrup and toppings.
Get a non-stick frying pan, preferably heavy bottomed, and melt a small knob of butter over a medium heat. Tip the excess into the batter and whisk it in. When the pan is suitably hot, pour in tablespoons of batter (and a few blueberries, if using) and cook for about three minutes, until the top of the pancakes are set and bubbly and the bottom is lightly browned. Flip and brown the other side. Keep them warm and serve as a stack. Makes about 10.