How to make pancakes

Once you've learn the basic rules, you’ll be able to create perfect wafer-thin pancakes every time. Why save them just for Pancake Day?

Tips for making the batter

  • Add the milk to the flour gradually, whisking continuously as you go, until you have a smooth batter. Don’t panic if it’s lumpy – simply sieve into another bowl.
  • Always rest your batter for at least 20 minutes before using. This allows the starch in the flour to swell and soften, giving you a lighter batter. You can rest it overnight, chilled, but thin it down with a little milk before using. 
  • Invest in a good crepe pan made of cast iron – it conducts heat well, meaning the pancakes will cook evenly. A handle that stays cool is vital, too.
  • If your crepe pan is new, season it (if necessary), to make it virtually non-stick. Heat the pan until hot, rub with salt then wipe clean. Heat again, rub with mild oil and again wipe clean. Cool. Your pan is now ready to use. Never wash the pan after use – wipe clean with kitchen paper.

[Related feature: The 10 best toppings for your pancakes]

Hints for cooking pancakes

  • Cooking the pancakes in a mild oil is better than using butter, which burns easily.
  • Less is more when making pancakes – the less batter you add to the pan, the more likely you are to end up with beautifully thin pancakes. Fill in any gaps with more batter if you need to.
  • The first pancake is often a write-off, as it takes practise to get the pan heat right and swirl the batter around – batter recipes tend to allow for the odd mishap!
  • Using a palette knife to flip pancakes over is much easier and less messy than tossing them. The non-stick quality of your pan is vital here, too. Layer pancakes up between baking paper to stop them sticking. You can freeze them like this, wrapped in cling film, for 1 month. Thaw at room temperature and warm through in a low oven.

Basic pancakes recipe

Makes 4 large or 8 medium
Takes about 20 minutes to make, plus resting the batter

125g plain flour
1 medium egg, beaten
275ml-300ml semi-skimmed milk
Vegetable or sunflower oil, for frying

1. To make the batter, sift the flour with a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, pour in the egg and slowly whisk in enough milk to make a smooth batter, the consistency of pouring cream. Rest for at least 20 minutes.

2. Heat about a 28cm crepe pan or a smaller heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, dip some kitchen paper in the oil and wipe across the surface of the pan. Add a small ladleful of batter and tilt the pan to swirl the batter evenly and thinly.

how to make pancakes

3. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until the pancake is golden underneath.

how to make pancakes

4. Loosen all around the pancake with a palette knife. Flip over and cook for a further minute, until golden.

how to make pancakes

5. Slide out onto a plate, putting a sheet of greaseproof paper between each pancake to stop them sticking together. Repeat to finish up the batter – oil the pan between each pancake.

how to make pancakes

6. Serve the pancakes with lemon wedges to squeeze over and sprinkle with caster sugar.

how to make pancakes

Per large pancake: 209kcals, 8.7g fat (1.9g saturated), 7.2g protein, 27.5g carbs, 3.7g sugar, 0.1g salt.

Crepes suzettes

1. Make the master batter recipe (above) adding 1 teaspoon icing sugar and the grated zest of 1/2 orange. Rest and cook as before. Fold the pancakes into eighths or quarters, depending on their size, and set aside.

2. Make the sauce by dissolving 40g caster sugar in a frying pan. Increase the heat and cook until golden. Add 40g butter and the juice of 2 small oranges and cook until the sauce is simmering. Stir in 2 tablespoons Cointreau.

3. Return the folded pancakes to the pan and pour over 2 tablespoons brandy. Flambé by carefully igniting the sauce with a long taper. Remove from the heat while the flames die down.

4. Divide the pancakes and sauce between plates. Scatter with thin strips of orange zest and serve with crème fraîche.

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