When we were children at home, the rituals of Lent were closely observed. The best parts of Lent (as every child knows) are Pancake Tuesday and Easter Sunday. The bit in between was not quite as much fun!
On Pancake Tuesday, my mother stood at the stove from 3.30, when we came home from school until about 6, when Dad got home, and made paper-thin pancakes, one after another. We had them with sugar and lemon, rolled them up and ate them with our fingers. There was a tradition in School to ask ‘ how many pancakes did you get?’ – our family always had the most!
- A shallow sided non-stick frying pan at least 8-10 ins in diameter
- a flat knife or spatula
- A whisk
- large bowl
- a jug with a good lip on it.
- 125g plain flour
- pinch of salt
- 1 dessertspoon of caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 300ml milk
- 25g melted butter
- a light oil, such as sunflower, and some more butter
METHOD: To make the batter –
- Put the dry ingredients and the eggs into the bowl (I use a Pyrex jug)
- Use either a hand or electric whisk, mix all them all together. They will form a thick claggy mixture.
- Start to add the milk, a little at a time at first, stirring constantly, and then add all the rest of the milk in one go. Keep stirring until the mixture becomes a smooth and fairly liquid batter. Yes, it will look lumpy at the start, but if you keep whisking it will become a beautiful smooth batter.
- Add the melted butter and fold in.
- The batter is now ready to use. You can chill it at this stage until you need it; just give it a good stir before use.
MAKING THE CREPES:
- Heat the pan over a med-hot heat
- Add a little bit of oil, and a tiny bit of butter, allow to melt and combine (see NOTES below)
- When the oil is sizzling, pour the equivalent of 3-4 tablespoons of the batter into the pan, and lifting it from the heat, swill it around until the batter covers the whole of the bottom of the pan evenly. Return the pan to the heat.
- After a minute or two, you’ll be able to see the crepe cooking underneath, in the heat. It will begin to crisp up at the edges.
- At this stage, you can use your spatula to lift the pancake gently and have a look underneath. If it’s a nice golden colour, slide the spatula right under it, and with a deft flick of the wrist, turn the thing over. Allow to cook for a further minute or so. This requires a little practice, but actually you’ll get the hang of it very quickly.
- Carry on until all the batter is used up, keeping the crepes warm by putting each one – separated by a sheet of baking parchment – on a plate over a pot of simmering water.
- Serve them in the traditional manner, with caster sugar and lemon. We used to sprinkle on the sugar, squeeze over the lemon, then roll the pancake up into a cigar shape. That way they’re very easy to eat with a knife and fork – not that we bothered with such refineries back in the day!
- To ring the changes, add Maple syrup and fresh fruit, such as blueberries, raspberries, or even sliced banana. Then roll up as usual, or fold in half twice to make a triangular shape which will hold your filling in.
- This recipe will make about 12-15 pancakes, depending on how thin you make them.
- Because of the butter in the batter, I don’t actually grease the pan between each pancake. I start it off, and after making 2 or 3, if I think they’re getting a little dry-looking, I add a small knob of butter to the pan before cooking the next one.
- To reduce the calories, you can use semi-skimmed milk, and a low calorie spray instead of butter in the pan. They work equally well.
- Crepes can be kept, separated by sheets of greaseproof paper; chilled or frozen, and then re-heated
- For savoury crepes, (as for my Lasagna Siciliana https://eatingforireland.com/recipe/la-lasagna-siciliana/ ) just drop the sugar from the batter.
- I have always found that the first pancake is a disaster, so treat it as a learning experience. Don’t worry, the rest will be fine, and even if the first one is not a thing of beauty, it will still taste lovely, so keep some sugar and a bit of lemon beside the hob, so that you can eat the evidence!
- By the way, these are the proper crepes for making Crepes Suzette, that old speciality of posh restaurants.. The addition of fresh orange juice and some Cointreau or Brandy, which was lit while in the pan, bathed the pancakes before they were folded into triangles, was always a treat; especially since they used to make them at your table, giving the whole restaurant free entertainment and a frisson of excitement in case the waiter singed his eyebrows.. ah, good times..