You’re not the only one to mess up pancakes now and again. Here are some tips on how to avoid a disaster this Pancake Day…
Pancake day is here! A shining beacon of hope in an otherwise dreary February. Kids love it, adults love it, we love it. Because when you mix hot batter, sugar and lemon, what’s not to like?
But for some, pancake day isn’t as dreamy as it’s made out in the movies. It would be dishonest to say we’ve not all got the pan too hot and suddenly become enveloped in burnt, pancake-y smoke. Or someone has forgotten to add the eggs and it turns into a dish resembling deep-fried porridge.
We know all too well how difficult handling a hot pan can be – made even more difficult by the eagerness of otherwise oblivious children to get stuck in and ‘let them flip the pancake.’
Half of your brain is thinking this is a cute one for the memory box, while the other half is wondering why tonight, of all nights, the kids want to lend a hand with the cooking.
Fear not, because here at Lyons, we’re not ones to judge. We’ve actually gone the extra mile this Pancake Day and saved you the generic post about fruit-inspired fluffy pancake recipes and how switching from plain to wholemeal flower will work wonders for your bowels (does it?)
Here’s the lowdown on why your pancakes are going wrong, and what you can do to prevent tears in the kitchen.
1. My pancakes aren’t fluffy
If your pancakes are stodgy and gooey, there could be three possible things you’re doing wrong:
- Eggs: try to use one egg per cup of flour. Use more, and the eggy-custardy yolks will make them denser. Use less, and they won’t rise. So it’s about getting that sweet middle spot that’ll leave you with pancakes fluffier than Big Bird (but not as yellow.)
- Mixing: life comes with lumps and bumps – and so should your pancakes. Don’t get me wrong, you should mix it well and ensure there’s no flour lurking at the bottom of the bowl. But overmixing will sabotage the gluten in the flour and lead to a tougher consistency.
- Pressing: this is Pancake Day. In February. It’s not a summer BBQ. So do not be tempted to press down on your pancake like a hamburger. This will press all the air out and make your pancakes dense and clogged.
2. My pancakes are too flat
If your mixture looks more like stale dishwater than it does batter, then you’ve added too much liquid. Add a little more flour to thicken it, so the batter drips (not runs) off the spoon.
Another factor that leads to flatter-than-flat pancakes is the baking powder. It’s a good idea to add a sprinkle to get that fluffy texture. But make sure your baking powder is in-date, as it has a tendency to go stale over a long period of time in the pantry. You can check its efficiency by splashing a drop of warm water on a spoonful of powder – it should fizz. If it doesn’t, don’t worry. Add it to your list and have omelettes for Pancake Day instead.
3. They taste like…nothing
The cherry on top of any pancake is literally, well, the cherries (or blueberries, or syrup) on top. But no matter how adventurous you’re feeling with your toppings, it’s just as important to give a bite to the base.
Have you ever heard your grandmother say you need to take life with a pinch of salt? She’s right. You need to make your batter with a pinch of salt. Not too much, because this is really bad for your cholesterol, sodium levels – anything and everything according to the British Heart Foundation. If your batter is lacking in taste, we recommend carefully adding just a touch of salt just before mixing. Salt makes everything taste like it should, and can help bring your pancakes to life.
If this tip merely rubbed salt in your pancake-shaped wound, try some of the following alternatives:
- Substitute half of your plain flour for almond, cornmeal, wholemeal, rye or oat flour
- Add a couple of spoonfuls of sugar to the batter
- Melt a knob of butter and add it to the batter
- Put a blob of honey or syrup in the batter (if you do, be careful as this could burn your pan)
- Use buttermilk, almond milk, or coconut milk instead of normal everyday cow’s milk (if you really want to)
4. My pancakes always burn baby, burn
The key thing to consider here is heat. Despite the anticipation that’s killing you, it’s vital you don’t whack your hob on high to ‘cook it quicker.’ This only leads to very crispy and singed pancakes, and the entire kitchen smelling like a 90’s nightclub.
The pan: get your cast-iron pan medium hot, and gently place a drop of oil or butter in. Pour a spoonful of batter in then wait for the tiny bubbles to appear around the edge of the pancake. When you see the bubbles, flip it gently.
The pressing: we’ve said it before but we’ll say it again. Pressing down your pancake with a spatula will not make it crispy and crunchy like bacon. It will just go black and taste like char-grilled sweet potato.
The colour: aim for a golden brown all-round colour before questioning whether it’s done. Don’t wait too long before removing your pancake from the pan once it looks like a little flat golden sun. The more you cook, the more dense and heavy it’ll be.
5. My flips always fail
You wait for the pan to heat; you pour in the batter; with anticipation, you’re waiting for the right moment to launch the pancake into the air and catch it like Babe Ruth. But you either; try for ages to flip it but it’s stuck; it falls apart like a sack of raw eggs; you don’t even bother as you know you’re set up to fail.
Here are some ways you could be going wrong:
- If it’s too runny and takes too long to form, your batter is probably too loose. Add a little more flour.
- You’re flipping it too soon. Remember to wait for the bubbles on the edge. This shows that the bottom is cooked, and the top is starting to firm.
- If it’s stuck to the pan, you need to free it a little. Either add a tad more oil or butter, or loosen up the edges with a spatula before flipping.
- Pan too cold? Your pancakes won’t stand a chance at flipping as they haven’t had time to develop a ‘foot.’ The foot is the underside which needs to be strong enough to withstand a flip. Make sure to use medium heat.
- Too hot? Turn the heat to medium, we won’t tell you again!
6. They never last long enough
This is a common dilemma among many households. It’s an extremely serious issue in the pancake world, and can only be resolved in one way…
The national pancake shortage can be rectified by MAKING MORE PANCAKES!
Here’s a little snapshot of what to avoid and what to aspire to:
Happy Pancake Day from Lyons!