How to make basic pancakes

Xanthe Clay

We're into February, which means one thing for us: Pancake Day has arrived. While many often turn to ready-made pancake mix – Aunt Jemimas, invented in Missouri in 1889, has been sold for centuries – cooking the dish from scratch is actually incredibly simple.

Traditionally, pancakes were eaten on this day to use up rich, indulgent foods like eggs and milk before the 40-day fasting season of Lent began.

But although it is enshrined in Christian tradition, it is believed that Pancake Day might originate in a pagan holiday, when eating warm, round pancakes - symbolising the sun - was a way of celebrating the arrival of spring.

To help you celebrate the arrival of the warmer months, we have collected our favourite pancake recipes together for you – and here is our simplest and most foolproof.

When is Pancake Day?

Pancake Day has been celebrated by Britons for centuries; its exact date changes every year, because it is determined by when Easter falls. But it is always the day preceding Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent) and always falls in February or March.

This year it falls on February 13, with Ash Wednesday coinciding with Valentine's Day.

The day is also known as Shrove Tuesday. The word shrove is a form of the English word shrive, which means to obtain absolution for one's sins by way of confession and penance. Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the custom for Christians to be "shriven" before the start of Lent.

Read more | Pancake Day

The ultimate basic pancake recipe

SERVES

Enough for 8 pancakes

TOTAL TIME

30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large egg or 1 egg and one yolk
  • 280ml milk
  • 110g plain flour (4 heaped dessertspoons)
  • 1 tbsp melted butter

METHOD

  1. By hand: sift the flour into a bowl and make a well in the middle. Break in the egg (and yolk, if using) and add apinch of salt and a splash of the milk. Whisk the egg, gradually incorporating the flour, to make a smooth cream. Whisk in the rest of the milk and the melted butter.
  2. With a blender: put all the ingredients in a blender jug with a pinch of salt. Whizz until smooth. It should be no thicker than single cream.
  3. Brush a hot pan with vegetable oil before adding a ladleful of batter and swilling thinly around pan, tipping the pan so the mixture spreads evenly. It will begin to cook immediately: pour any excess back into the bowl.
  4. When the pancake is browned on the bottom and the very edges are beginning to lift away, give the pan a shake to make sure the pancake is loose. If it is sticking anywhere, use a spatula to loosen it.
  5. When it moves freely, then you are ready to toss it - or, if you're less confident, use a spatula to turn it over. The other side will only need a few seconds. Slide out of the pan, and try one of these delicious toppings

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