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My son has a book illustrated by Eric Carle called Pancakes, Pancakes! The protagonist is a small boy who wakes up one morning demanding pancakes for breakfast (this is why my son loves it - he does the same). Mrs Pancake is wise to Master Pancake's demands, though, and tells him he must go to the farmer, borrow a flail and thresh his own flour from the wheat fields, then take the wheat to the miller to make flour. Our hero then has to milk a cow and churn his own butter. His final quest is to encourage a friendly hen to lay him an egg. When he has all these ingredients, she will then make him his long-awaited and much-wanted pancakes (surely too late for breakfast? And what mother would send her child off to work on an empty stomach? And, frankly, what child would still be interested - or even remember what he was doing in the first place?? Eric has no answers).
Plot inconsistencies aside, I find myself wondering how amazing those pancakes would taste with the freshest ingredients you could possibly use rather than the ordinary, shop-bought ones we have to make do with. One day, I really hope I can send my boys off down our real-life garden path to fetch a fresh egg or two, but in the meantime there's always Aldi (99p for six free-range eggs, cheapest I have found).
So yesterday was Pancake Day. Writing this post feels rather stabledoorhorsebolted, but a pancake is for life not just for Shrove Tuesday. We love pancakes. Weekend breakfasts often consist of American-style pancakes with berries and maple syrup, and I wouldn't be averse to a pancake-based meal for lunch as well. And probably in the evening too, if I'm totally honest. It would be quite possible to eat nothing but pancakes in their various forms for every meal, and so, with this in mind, here begins a season of pancake recipes (uber-fresh ingredients not obligatory).
250g plain flour (2 cups)
2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp sugar (although this could be left out - see below)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
50g unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp cinnamon (optional, depending on toppings)
1. I simply stick it all into the blender but if you don't have one sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Mix the milk, eggs and melted butter in a large jug, add the flour and mix quickly. Don't worry about lumps.
2. Heat a frying pan until medium hot and grease lightly with extra butter, pour in batter in batches to make rounds. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until bubbles form on top and the underside is golden. Flip each one over and cook for 1 minute. Keep them warm in the oven while you finish the batch, or nibble on them as you're going if you find them as irresistible as I do.
Note: For little babies, I have experimented with using mashed banana instead of the sugar, and one banana added to this quantity of batter adds a little more sweetness but does affect the consistency - you get a slightly heavier, more textured pancake. But still totally delicious, and the American pancakes are easy for fat little fists to grip (you can adjust the size accordingly or cut them into chip-sized pieces). Another nice banana thing to do is to slice bananas thinly and add to the side that's uppermost while the first side is cooking. Push them down into the wet batter so that it comes up around them to avoid them burning when you flip them.
My Master Pancake had his with syrup; we had ours with stewed apple and honey (not for babies under one - the honey, that is). Superquick stewed apples: Bramley apples sliced thinly, with a slug of apple juice, in a bowl with a lid, into the microwave on full power for 3 and a half minutes.