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How to make the perfect pancake: step-by-step guide

by Malou Herkes

published on 23 April 2020

Who doesn’t love a good pancake? Whether you’re a fan of French-style crêpes doused in lemon and sugar or fluffy American pancakes with plenty of maple syrup on top, pancakes are the ultimate breakfast treat. To help you create the perfect pancake, every time, we’ve put together this handy how-to guide with failsafe instructions for both crêpes and thick pancakes.

First, here are some quick tips to bear in mind:

1. Make sure to lightly grease your pan and remove any excess fat with a paper towel.
2. Don’t worry about the first or second pancake coming out funny. They always do!
3. Warm up your pan slowly until you have a medium heat.
4. Use a spatula to loosen the pancake before flipping it.
5. Flip the pancake when the edges begin to brown.

Basic crêpe-style pancakes step-by-step guide:

While the measurements for crêpe recipes can differ, the method tends to be the same: a simple process of mixing flour with a little salt, egg, enough milk to make a loose batter – Catherine Hill (author of The Weekend Cookbook) recommends the ‘consistency of single cream’ – and a bit of melted butter or oil. How you want to fill it is up to you – banana and chocolate spread anyone?

1. Place 100g plain flour in a bowl, add 1 medium egg and 200ml milk and beat until smooth. The consistency of the batter should be like single cream – so add the remainder of the milk if you feel it needs it. Stir in 1 teaspoon sunflower oil and a pinch of salt.

2. Heat a non-stick frying pan, add just a tiny drizzle of oil and spread around the pan with a piece of kitchen roll. Add a little of the batter and swirl around the pan to make a thin pancake.

3. Cook for 2 minutes, turn and cook for another minute. Place on a plate, cover with a clean tea towel and keep warm in a very low oven whilst you make the remainder.

4. Eat with your favourite filling or click the recipe below to see how to make your own blueberry and honey compote.

Basic American-style pancakes step-by-step guide:

The major difference between crêpes and American-style pancakes is that the latter are made with a raising agent for that fluffy texture, and are usually slightly sweetened. Serve with blueberries, maple syrup, or crispy bacon.

1. Melt 30g unsalted butter in a small saucepan and set aside to cool.

2. Crack 2 large eggs into a small bowl and lightly beat with a fork until combined

3. Sift 200g self-raising flour and 1 tsp baking powder into a bowl, lifting the sieve high above to aerate the flour. Stir in 40g caster sugar until evenly mixed with the flour, so each pancake will be equally sweet.

4. In a jug, lightly beat together 250ml milk, the eggs, and 1 tsp vanilla extract until well blended. With a spoon, form a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour a little of the egg mixture into the well and start to whisk it in. Wait until each addition of egg mixture has been incorporated before whisking in more. Finally, whisk in the melted butter until the mixture is entirely smooth.

5. Melt a knob of butter in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Pour 1 tablespoon of the batter into the pan, to form a round pancake. Continue to add tablespoons of batter, leaving space between for them to spread. As they begin to cook, sprinkle a few blueberries (you will need 150g in total for all of the pancakes) over the uncooked surface. They are ready to turn when small bubbles appear and pop, leaving small holes.Turn the pancakes over carefully with a palette knife. Continue to cook for 1–2 minutes until golden brown on both sides and cooked. Remove the pancakes from the pan, and drain briefly on kitchen paper. Place the pancakes on a plate and transfer to a warm oven.

6. Wipe out the frying pan with kitchen paper, and add another knob of butter. Repeat for all the batter and wipe between batches. The pan should not get too hot.

7. Remove the pancakes from the oven. Serve warm in piles, with butter and maple syrup.

Once you’ve got a handle on the basics, check out some of our favourite recipes to make the most of your new pancake-making skills.

Blueberry and Honey Pancakes

Blueberry and Honey Pancakes

by Catherine Hill

These straightforward crêpes are all the more special when served with your own homemade berry compote, or simply sprinkled with the all-time classic lemon and sugar.

Blender Banana Pancakes

Blender Banana Pancakes

by Megan Gilmore

For a gluten-free alternative, these moist and fluffy pancakes feature ripe bananas and fibre-rich coconut flour. Easy to whip together in a blender, they make a healthy and protein-packed breakfast.

Melissa Hemsley’s Perfect Pancakes

Melissa Hemsley’s Perfect Pancakes

For delicious toppings, try this pancake recipe made with a flavoursome banana and quinoa flake batter. As with any pancake recipe, if you want to double it (especially if you have bananas that need using up), any extras will keep in the fridge for a few days or can be easily frozen.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Pancakes

Blueberry Cream Cheese Pancakes

by Chrissy Teigen

For something altogether more indulgent, put your faith in Chrissy Teigen. Made with full-fat cream cheese or mascarpone that melts into the batter and oozes out, these fluffy pancakes are made all the fluffier with Chrissy’s secret tip. Read the recipe to find out more.

Arabian Pancakes with Orange-Flower Syrup

Arabian Pancakes with Orange-Flower Syrup

With a fragrant orange-flower syrup, these Middle-Eastern-inspired pancakes are deliciously decadent. “Don’t think breakfast pancakes” but rather a pudding, says Nigella, although we reckon these could probably pass as an indulgent brunch. Scented with cardamom, they are light, aromatic and sweet.

Rick Stein’s Buckwheat Crepes with Eggs and Mushrooms

Rick Stein’s Buckwheat Crepes with Eggs and Mushrooms

For a savoury vibe, try these buckwheat galettes with egg and mushroom. You can swap in other fillings too, depending on what you’ve got in the fridge – ham and Cheddar, smoked salmon and cream cheese, or even roasted vegetables.

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