Posts Tagged ‘pancake races’

Classic Pancake Recipe

Sunday, February 14th, 2010
Shrove Tuesday is the traditional start of Lent.  It has become associated with pancakes in Britain and so everyone spends the day making pancakes.  We regularly make pancakes for breakfast which the kids then top with cinnamon sugar or lemon and sugar, so I have decided instead to try a savoury pancake recipe, but more of that later.

First, let’s start with a classic pancake recipe.  This is the type of recipe that everyone needs to be able to bang out without really thinking about; it’s a staple, basic meal.  We make it without measuring anything – a bit of flour, a couple of eggs, some salt and add milk until the consistency is about right.  So while the recipe is a simple pan cake recipe, it was actually pretty difficult to work back to a workable recipe.

Ingredients – for 8 – 10

110g / 4oz plain flour
1 free range egg
1 free range egg yolk
Pinch of salt
275ml / 10fl oz full fat milk (traditionally you should use 50:50 water-milk mixture, but I like to give it a good, rich flavour)
1tbsp sunflower oil
1tsp sunflower oil or butter or lard – for the frying

Eggs and Flour For Pancake Batter

Eggs and Flour For Pancake Batter

Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl.  Mix in the salt.  Make a dent in the flour and drop the egg into this.  Add a small amount of milk, roughly 2 tablespoons and with a metal hand whisk, thoroughly mix the egg and milk into the flour.  Now add some more milk and whisk thoroughly again.  Carry on doing this a little bit at a time until the batter is becoming runny.  Now add the rest of the milk, the 1tbsp of sunflower oil and whisk again.

Whisking Pancake Batter

Whisking Pancake Batter

You need to slowly add the milk at the beginning as this ensures that the pancake batter is thoroughly mixed through and there are no lumps.  Now leave the pancake batter to prove for about 30 minutes; it really is worth leaving the pancake batter to prove as this makes the final pancake rise to a fuller height.

We often tweak the recipe in the morning by adding a pinch of cinnamon powder as this really makes for a nice, warming and homely flavour.

To make the pancakes, add a teaspoon of sunflower oil and spread it evenly over the skillet using perhaps a piece of kitchen paper.  You can use a similar amount of either butter or lard, but we like sunflower oil.

Leave it to heat through throughly until sizzling hot – be a bit patient as the reason why many people say that the first pancake just doesn’t work is that they don’t wait for the pan to get hot enough.  Add about half a soup spoon (2 tablespoons) full of pancake batter to the frying pan and spread it over the pan. 

Heat through until the top is just dried through and then flip over using a spatula and heat the other side.  You can lift the edge up to check that it is getting a nice light brown if you are worried that it is going to burn.

Frying Pancakes

Frying Pancake

Serve straight away or keep warm in an oven at about 125oC/ 300oF.

You can then top it with a teaspoon of sugar or flavoured sugar, or sugar and lemon, or (for the kids) spread with Nutella or another chocolate spread.

How do you like yours?

Summer is here, let’s celebrate

Monday, May 4th, 2009

The swallows arrived on 17th April this year. They got to Northumberland on 19th April. Summer is now here. This winter has been a long haul – cold, with lots of snow, and pretty glum. 

It is humbling and refreshing to get to spring/early summer – nature continues regardless of the trials and tribulations of mankind’s ups and downs.  The daffodils and tulips come out in April and are still here, but turning, while the bluebells are just perfect.  A couple of weeks ago, our cherry tree was beautiful, heavy with fulsome white blossom, which suddenly fell onto the ground on windy day to leave a melancholic blanket of white on our lawn.  Our crab apple tree has come out with its deep pink blossom, soon to turn white like the blossom on our apple trees. 

Then comes the baroque extravagance of the purple blossom on our wisteria – a truly exuberant expression of the beauty of early summer.  It covers one whole wall and the blossoms hang like huge bunches of grapes.  It hums with the buzz of all manner of insects attracted to its jasmine smelling flowers.

At this time every year, we celebrate May Day in our village just west of Ripon we live in. It’s a really traditional event. Held on the village green, there are May Day dances by the girls of the village and usually a few very reluctant boys. A new May Queen is crowned by the previous year’s May Queen.

Then there are cake stalls, a tombola, a white elephant stand, face painting and several shops, as well as games and activities – such as coconut shies, pig races, catch-a-rat, a bouncy castle and large bouncy slide.

May Day is a celebration of half the year, moving from the Wintry Half back into the Summery Half. It is thought to be associated with celebrations like Beltane which has become Christianised and more secular to become the modern event, which often also includes Morris Dancing in many villages. Traditionally, the May dancers were led out with the dancing figure of the Jack-in-the-Green, who harks back to the times when our trees were sacred. In our village, we have a bag-piper, which sounds good but is not very proper (perhaps a Northumbrian piper would be better, but I am not sure there is such a thing as Yorkshire pipes).

It’s a great day and is another sign of the start of Summer. It’s also good that traditional festivals are being kept going.   Modern society is too interested in riding roughshod over traditional values just for change for changes sake; often without replacing them at all.

In 2008, the traditional Ripon pancake race had to be abandoned for health and safety reasons. Not because the race was considered especially dangerous, but rather completing all the paperwork was far too onerous and the Council was going to charge the organisers £250 for the privilege of carrying out the race. After an outcry, which included lots of publicity from the newspapers and Terry Wogan on Radio 2, the pancake race was reinstated on Shrove Tuesday 2009.

A traditional British event on Shrove Tuesday, the first pancake race was said to have taken place in Olney in Buckinghamshire in 1445 and originated from a housewife, busy cooking pancakes to eat before Lent, rushing outside with pan in hand when the bells sounded to summon people to church.

It’s good that the killjoy attitudes of modern health and safety legislation don’t always prevail and that some fun things are allowed to be continued. Let’s try and keep the colour in our lives rather than letting the powers that be bleach out all the colours in their do-gooding way to make our world all grey.

I, also, feel that we don’t celebrate the coming of summer enough in Britain.  We have lots of festivals at the end of summer and the middle of winter, but why not celebrate the end of winter and the start of spring/ summer?  It’s a time of renewal when everything seems possible. Whereas harvest festival marks the end of summer, while Christmas gives us a welcome break half-way through winter.