Every year, it is Pancake Day. Every half year, there therefore needs to be a practice pancake party so as not to lose one’s touch. Seil and I are co-chefs. We used to be co-hosts, back in our flat-sharing days, but these days the numbers of Pancake Day attendees are so high (the largest was 15. That is a LOT of pancakes) that we’ve had to outsource the hosting elsewhere. That, and Seil’s ceilings aren’t high enough, and I don’t have enough chairs for all the pancake-hungry bottoms.
So this year, we borrowed Alice and Chris’ house. That’s Seil, in Alice and Chris’ excellent house with its brilliant massive table but very low ceilings. Not quite high enough for good tossing, but we gave it a damn good go.
What we do on Pancake Day, is do lots of preparation the night before. I was on onion caramelising patrol, Seil was making pancake batter and cooking apples (for the deconstructed apple crumble pancakes), I was roasting tiny little potato cubes (for tartiflette pancakes… TARTICREPES!!!!!) and making jars full of salted caramel.
The menu looked like this:
TARTICREPE: Lardons with crispy onions/reblochon/creme fraiche/mini roasted potatoes, rocket
THE CLASSIC – Cheddar cheese, ham, mushrooms and eggs
THE POSHER CLASSIC Spinach, blue cheese and caramelised red onions with creme fraiche
Sweet toppings station
Lemons and sugar
Salted caramel, apple and crumble; ice cream and cream
Banana and nutella
THE PANCAKE RECIPE
A cup of flour, a cup of milk, and an egg. Multiply by loads, depending on how many people are coming. Roughly speaking, that’ll make about 8 pancakes. If you want to be slightly more precise, go with 50g plain flour, 1 egg and 150ml semi-skimmed milk. I also like to melt butter and put that in the batter for extra special crepes – also helps to stop them sticking to the pan. Whisk the egg and the milk gently into the flour (make a well in the middle to pour it into), then whisk it up until smooth and there are no lumps. You can then put it in a glass bottle and keep it in the fridge overnight and it makes it easier to pour out the next day too. Or, just in a big bowl and get the ladle ready.
We always make loads and loads and loads – 3 per person – before they get there, so that they’re all in a big stack but crucially EVER so slightly undercooked on one side so that when it’s time, can melt a bit of butter, pop them back in the pan and then melt cheese on them or whatever we so decide.
The classic: pancake in pan, grated cheddar on the bottom, then some chopped cooked honey-roast ham, some wilted spinach, then separate an egg, put the white in a well in the middle of the grated cheese heap and let that cook, then put the egg yolk in the middle, fold the pancake up in a square around it, then flip it over and cook the sunny side. The yolk almost always bursts but it’s completely delicious.
The posh classic: any variation on blue cheese on the bottom, then a bit of creme fraiche to help the cheese melt, then either some crispy lardons or wilted spinach or mushrooms cooked up in butter with garlic, or parma ham…
Thanks to Ru, for his lovely pancake rolling skillz.
The tarticrepe: cut loads of peeled potatoes into tiny little cubes, parboil them in a big pan of rolling boiling water, then roast them in the oven at 200C for about 30 minutes until they are golden and crispy. They’ll need to be tossed regularly as they’re only little. Then in the pancake: roasted potatoes, crispy lardons, softened onions, a dollop of creme fraiche and some rocket lettuce to slightly balance out the heaviness of the rest of it. Delish.
The apple crumble: Stew some apples (no sugar needed), cook a tray of crumble separately (I can’t share mine because it’s my Mum’s and I’ve signed a non-disclosure agreement but I bet Nigella’s is good: 100g plain flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 50 g cold butter in small cubes, and 3 tbsp demerera sugar, all mixed up together). I serve it with Nigella’s salted caramel too which is fantastically easy and SO impressive. I mean, I don’t want to make a massive deal out of this but the deconstructed apple crumble pancake is possible the best creation I have ever, ever come up with. Pancake, apple, toasted crumble, all wrapped up, then topped with salted caramel sauce and a big dollop of ice cream or creme fraiche (slightly cuts through the sweetness…)
This year’s Pancake attendees: going around the table left to right starting on the left with beardy Duncan in a white shirt, then Ru, Max, Abi, Gaby, Liv, ME standing up, Lizzie, Will, Seil standing up with a pan in her hand, Sarah Li, Kieran, then Chris all on his own at the front. It’s very weirdly bad quality. Probably because of all the wine.