You should know bat­ter

Anna Jones’s pan­cakes for Shrove Tues­day and be­yond

The Guardian - Cook - - Front Page - Anna Jones

Like bot­tom­less cof­fee and wait­resses with name badges, pan­cakes are thor­oughly Amer­i­can ter­ri­tory to me. Grow­ing up in Cal­i­for­nia, we’d visit din­ers on Satur­days and there was only ever one thing on my mind: a short stack with a pat of whipped but­ter and a Pyrex jug of maple syrup.

I’ve been ex­cited about pan­cakes ever since. Buck­wheat crepes filled with melt­ing swiss cheese on Alpine ski hol­i­days; classy, light-as-a- cloud ri­cotta hot­cakes for a Lon­don break­fast; caramelised banana and lime-spiked pan­cakes over­look­ing the sea in Bali ... Ev­ery­where I go, I find a ver­sion of the pan­cake.

I wel­come (and eat) pan­cakes in all their forms on Shrove Tues­day. It isn’t about get­ting too fancy: the joy of a pan­cake is that it is made quickly. This week, I of­fer two ver­sions.

The first, a just-sweet, fluffy Amer­i­can-style pan­cake, is a cinch: the recipe is based on a rough ra­tio, so you won’t even have to get your scales out. I use this on week­end morn­ings if I want to make a quick batch. The sweet­ness comes from ba­nanas and, for kids, th­ese are a favourite with blue­ber­ries or ap­ple added just be­fore the flip. Pick a top­ping from the side­bar on the right; mix and match.

The sec­ond, savoury num­ber is more of a din­ner: golden-edged pota­toes, crispy fried capers and spoon­fuls of milky ri­cotta to fill thin rye crepes. While they sit well next to a glass of white wine, their flavours are pop­u­lar enough with all ages.

I cook my pan­cakes in both non­stick or steel fry­ing pans. Either way, I add some fat – but­ter or a flavour­less oil – then wipe the pan be­fore cook­ing with a lit­tle kitchen roll: too much fat and you’ll deep-fry your pan­cake, too lit­tle and the bat­ter will stick.

If you are pa­tient, you can stack each pan­cake be­tween sheets of grease­proof pa­per in the oven; at our house they are eaten straight from the pan while we ar­gue who’s next.

Pan­cakes ... so good: make them this week, but don’t wait an­other year .

Go-to fluffy pan­cakes

I use a stan­dard mug (300ml) to mea­sure my flour and milk, but this recipe works on ra­tios, so any cup or mug will work: a lit­tle more or less egg and banana will work either way. If you like, you can make the bat­ter the night be­fore and store it in the fridge. A range of flours work well here: reg­u­lar plain, spelt and buck­wheat are all suit­able. You can also use a range of milks – I most of­ten use cow’s, al­mond or oat milk. Then fin­ish with any of the top­ping ideas on the right.

Pan­cake Day isn’t about get­ting too fancy: the joy of a pan­cake is that it is made quickly

Makes about 8 pan­cakes

1 medium banana 1 large egg 1 mug of plain flour (about 200g) ½ tsp bi­car­bon­ate of soda 1 mug of milk (about 300ml) A pinch of salt But­ter, co­conut oil or ground­nut oil, for fry­ing

1 In a jug, mash the banana re­ally well with a fork. Add the egg, flour, bi­carb, milk and salt. Mix or blend re­ally well to a smooth bat­ter, or use a stick blender or elec­tric hand whisk to blend in the jug. If you’ve got time, let the bat­ter sit for an hour be­fore you use it – the pan­cakes will be bet­ter for it.

2 Heat a large non­stick fry­ing pan over a medium heat and add a lit­tle oil or but­ter. When the fat has melted, add around 2–3 ladle­fuls of the pan­cake bat­ter to the hot pan to make sev­eral pan­cake rounds. Once the bot­tom of the pan­cakes has set, you can add fruit on top, if you like: a few blue­ber­ries, slices of ap­ple etc (see the pre­vi­ous page for some sugges­tions). Cook for 2–3 min­utes, or un­til bub­bles rise to the sur­face. Use a spat­ula to care­fully flip the pan­cakes over and cook on the other side. Keep them warm while you cook the rest of the bat­ter.

3 Serve the pan­cakes stacked high and cov­ered with more of your cho­sen top­pings.

Rye pan­cakes with crispy capers and pota­toes

If you don’t buy rye flour of­ten, do think about try­ing it here. The rest of the bag can be used to make bread and is great in brown­ies; in fact, any choco­late bak­ing. I of­ten make a dou­ble batch of th­ese pan­cakes and store them in the fridge to use through­out the week as wraps.

Serves 4 (makes 8-10 pan­cakes)

110g rye flour 100g spelt flour A pinch of sea salt 3 eggs 500ml wa­ter, plus more if needed Olive oil

For the top­ping

400g new pota­toes, chopped into small cubes 4 spring onions Olive oil 2 tbsp capers 1 un­waxed lemon 200g ri­cotta cheese 60g rocket A small bunch of pars­ley, leaves picked

1 To make the bat­ter, com­bine the flours and salt in a bowl. Use a fork to stir in the eggs un­til the mix­ture has a raggedy ap­pear­ance, then grad­u­ally whisk in the wa­ter. The bat­ter may seem a bit thin at first, but leave it to rest for 5 min­utes while you get on with the top­pings and it will have thick­ened up nicely.

2 Add your potato cubes to a pan of salted boil­ing wa­ter and cook for 4-5 min­utes un­til just ten­der (they will cook a lit­tle more in the fry­ing pan). Drain and al­low to steam-dry for a minute in the colan­der. Finely chop the spring onions.

3 Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large fry­ing pan and add the drained capers. Leave them to cook for 4 min­utes, un­til crisp, then scoop out with a slot­ted spoon and leave to one side. Leave the pan on the heat.

4 Add the potato cubes to the fry­ing pan. Cook on a high heat, turn­ing ev­ery so of­ten, for about 10 min­utes, or un­til start­ing to crisp and turn­ing golden. Add the spring onions and fry for a fur­ther 3 min­utes, then grate over the zest of a lemon and add half of its juice. Turn the heat to low while you make the pan­cakes.

5 Warm an­other medium fry­ing pan over a medium heat. Rub the pan with a touch of oil, then pour in just enough bat­ter to thinly coat the bot­tom. As you pour, ro­tate and tip the pan so the bat­ter cov­ers the en­tire base. Cook for a cou­ple of min­utes, un­til the pan­cake is browned, then flip with a spat­ula to brown the sec­ond side. If you are mak­ing a few pan­cakes, put your oven on low, stack them on a plate as you go and keep them warm in the oven.

6 Serve filled with the pota­toes, crispy capers and ri­cotta. Scat­ter over the rocket and pars­ley and fin­ish with a fi­nal squeeze of lemon juice.

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