Can’t be tossed to find the perfect pancake recipe? Muddy to the rescue!

Every Shrove Tuesday, I say the same thing to the Muddy clan: ‘Why don’t we have pancakes more often? I love pancakes!’  Then we wholeheartedly throw ourselves into a new weekend tradition of Sunday pancakes, which lasts all of, oh, three weeks tops.  And then we forget about pancakes, including how to make them properly.  And repeat annual cycle.

The thing is, practice makes perfect and perfect I am not.  I’m sure half the problem is the fear of ballsing it and the kitchen up, in the process.  And what is it with the first pancake always being a complete cock-up?  I recently took a cookery course at River Cottage HQ In Axminster, y’know the one made famous by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and guess what?  It turns out the big man sympathises.

So this year, it’s ON.  Fresh from a days baking, I’m feeling inspired, well ahead of P-Day.  You can read all about my cookery course soon (and buy my debut Muddy Bakery Book for Pro’s in all made-up bookshops).  But for now, the good people at River Cottage have allowed me to share with you a perfect pancake recipe from none other than HFW himself.  So here it is:  print, laminate and get practising.   Oh, and do share your favourite toppings in the comments box below.  The crazier the better!

Recipe and words taken from River Cottage Every Day 

Thin, crepe-style pancakes have a bit of a reputation for being tricky, but I think that’s because a lot of us only make them once a year.  Confidence is the most important ingredient: the more you make, the better they’ll be.  They’re great, quick breakfast fare and in our house we have them at least once a week.  I like to eat them with a lighting dusting of sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice, but we also top them with sliced banana and honey, with fridge jam or sometimes with a slosh of maple syrup.  The 30-minute rest is important (without it, your pancakes may be a bit wet).  If we are thinking ahead, we often make the batter the night before and leave it in the fridge overnight.  It won’t keep for more than 48 hours though; ie two breakfasts in a row, tops.

Makes about 16

250g plain white or fine wholemeal flour

A pinch of sea salt

2 medium eggs, lightly beaten

About 600ml whole milk

A little sunflower oil

To serve:

Caster sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice (or see suggestions above)

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and make a well in the centre.  Pour in the eggs, add about 50ml of the milk and start to whisk, gradually incorporating the flour into the wet ingredients in the centre.  When you have a thick batter forming in the middle, add a bit more milk and whisk in a bit more flour.  Keep going in this way until all the milk has been added, all the flour is incorporated, and you have a smooth batter, about the consistency of single cream.  One of the mistakes people make with pancakes is to leave the batter too thick.  So if your batter is still more double than single cream, whisk in a little more milk.  You can also make the batter by whizzing everything up in a food processor.  Either way, let it rest for at least 30 minutes, then check the consistency again.  If it’s thickened up a bit, add a dash more milk to bring it back to the right consistency.

To cook the pancakes, heat a non-stick frying pan or crepe pan, around 20cm in diameter, over a medium heat.  When it’s hot, swirl 1 tablespoon of oil around the pan, then tip out the excess.  Add a small ladleful (around 50ml) of batter – just enough to coat the base of the pan – and swirl it around quickly until it covers the base.  Cook for a minute or so, until lightly coloured underneath, then flip over and cook for a minute more.  Depending on the pan, you may need to loosen the edges of the pancake with a palette knife before you flip.

Almost without exception, the first pancake will be a bit rubbish.  Don’t worry, this is normal; the next one will be much better.  Dole them out as you make them, so they can be eaten hot – sprinkled with caster sugar and lemon juice.

River Cottage Every Day, published by Bloomsbury, £26.00, Hardback.  Photography Simon Wheeler. 

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