How This Particular Anglophile Celebrated Pancake Day

Geek Culture

My completed English pancake. Photo: Jenny Williams

I’ve never been to England, though I hope to for my 40th birthday (in two years). At least a third of my family background is English, though, and I’ve been drawn in by many a BBC and British television production. There’s just something about that little island and their culture that I love. And I do mean little: England is apparently half the size of my state of Arizona.

Our pancake extras. Photo: Jenny Williams

So when I found out that Tuesday was Pancake Day, I had to find a way to participate. I didn’t think our usual pancake recipe would suffice. It has sour cream, sugar, leavening and spices in it. And only one egg. My pancakes are really tasty, but they just wouldn’t do for this occasion.

I did a Google search for English pancakes, and found a recipe on the BBC website. But someone else on Twitter came through with an easier recipe. I followed the directions exactly, except for the hour to chill the batter.

Perhaps humid weather at sea level has a different effect on batter, but here at a mile high in arid Arizona, the recipe didn’t quite work as is. I don’t know what “thick cream” is to the English, but what this recipe made was more like brownie batter consistency. So I added a bit more milk, then a bit more and even a bit more. I finally decided that if I added too much more, I’d end up with regular cream, so I stopped somewhere around a total of 14 ounces of milk.

First side cooking. Photo: Jenny Williams

Here was another challenge: Cooking over moderate heat. What’s moderate heat? My stove doesn’t have a setting for that. My mom decided that it meant “medium,” which I think was just slightly too hot. I’ll adjust the heat down a bit next time.

I had my batter, only slightly chilled. I also had other ingredients prepared, such as lemon wedges, tangerines and strawberries. It was time to cook.

Again following the recipe, I tried putting two tablespoons of batter in the preheated pan as the recipe said, then swirling the pan to spread the batter around. All that did was make the small pancake shift around. My first pancake looked like a flat American pancake. I learn quickly, however, so the next time I just poured a bunch of batter in, quite a bit more than two tablespoons, and swirled it around. This time it worked. So did cooking the first side for 1 1/2 minutes and the second side for about 20 seconds.

Second side cooking. Photo: Jenny Williams

The recipe suggested using a paper towel to roll up the finished pancake before placing on a plate. But there would be no rolling this pancake. Folding worked much better. The first-cooked side was far too brittle for rolling.

For me, this recipe made about nine pancakes. My son, the very picky eater, would only eat his with sugar. My daughter and I, however, first tried it with lemon and sugar, which I’m told is the traditional English way. Second, we tried it with strawberry slices inside and tangerine juice on the outside, with a sprinkling of sugar. That was okay, but would have been better with more flavorful fruit (or whipped cream). For our third pancakes, we both went back to the lemon and sugar, since they were the perfect pancake companions.

Inside strawberry goodness. Photo: Jenny Williams

Next time, though: dark chocolate chips and coconut! Or perhaps Nutella. Though I also want to try a more savory option, ham and cheese. Or creamy chicken with herbs. I can see a whole cookbook emerging here.

What do you put on your English pancakes? What other pancakes do you enjoy making? I hear good things about the German ones, as well as the French crêpes, naturally.

Verdict: A+++ Would make again!!!!1!!One

A big thanks to GeekDad Nathan Barry who helped inspire me to actually cook. Also thanks to @dduane on Twitter who supplied the recipe that I used.

In case you want to witness my pancake flipping prowess (done only once since using a spatula was so much easier), here it is, recorded by my daughter.

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