Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Pancakes for life, not just for Shrove Tuesday

On the most holy of batter days, where children around the country legitimately gorge on enough sugar to create an army of diabetics, I figured, "well, if you can't beat them..."

I must be getting old though as an evening meal consisting solely of pancakes, lemon and sugar, gave feelings more of dread than excitement.

Wanting to incorporate the main fixture as to why we celebrate shrove Tuesday in the 21st century, into a savoury, nutritious dish, I rattled my brains for a gastro feast that would work. And then it hit me...curry.

I'm confident with attempting the majority of cuisines. But the delicate blend of asian spices is the one chink in my armour, and at 7pm on a Tuesday, I caved and picked up these at the local supermarket:
  • Saag paneer: Glorious paneer cheese, with spinach and all the spices. I will be making my own next time, giving this recipe a go
  • Tadka daal: Hugely popular dish in India, with countless variations on the recipe. This one is definitely a good starting point, coming with an 'easy-to-cook' promise!
  • Chana masala: A beautifully spiced chickpea and tomato based dish. Check out one of my favourite blogs, Smitten Kitchen, for a great recipe.

Add a few stalks of broccoli for colour

Despite all of these incredible flavours, the pancake recipe we decided upon was really quite underwhelming. By far the best pancakes I've ever had come from a most unlikely source.

Bruce Paltrow's world-famous pancakes makes an appearance in daughter Gwyneth's (yes, that would be the Hollywood actress) cookbook Notes from my Kitchen.

To make a dozen pancakes, you will need:
  • 115g of plain flour
  • 25g granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • pinch of fine salt
  • 250ml Buttermilk (you can buy this ready made from most supermarkets)
  • 25g unsalted butter, melted and cooled (plus a smidge extra for cooking)
  • 2 eggs
  • Between 75 and 100ml milk to thin the batter
  • Maple syrup for serving...or if you can't bear to go off piste, lemon and sugar is fine!
Simply mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, mix the wet in another. Add the wet to the dry, adding a bit at a time to avoid lumpiness. Add enough milk to make your favourite consistency: thick for heavy, thin for delicate - reassuringly Bruce says neither is wrong...

Heat your pan with a nob of butter to a moderately high heat. Test a small bit of the batter first - you want to see a sizzle. Add a pancake sized amout of batter just off centre in your pan (makes it easier to manoeuvre). Cook until little bubbles appear in the centre - this means your pancake is cooked underneath. Give the pan a little shake, cock your wrist and flip once (although if you manage a trippler, that will definitely wow your gathering crowd of expectant bellies).

Serve on a plate with your favourite pancake topping, be as imaginative as you dare - sweet or savoury, and enjoy all year round...unless you've decided to give them up for lent today...

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