Features

Pancakes

Lemon and sugar on a lacy crêpe? A slick of Nutella and some chopped banana? A pile of bouncy American-style pancakes (call them drop scones or Scotch pancakes or pikelets if you prefer) dotted with butter, topped with blueberries and a slick of maple syrup? With Shrove Tuesday upon us it’s time to whip up a batter, heat that pan and get flipping!

By all means knock up a pile of the comfortingly familiar at home because a well-made pancake, with its filigree pattern and ability to contain just about any filling sweet or savoury, is endlessly delicious. Choose nutty, naturally gluten-free buckwheat flour for a real Breton galette, or add baking powder for a fluffier texture. Whip the egg whites separately and fold them into the batter to make Danish ebelskiver, the deliciously stuffable (with jam, spiced apples, cheese…) snack that happens when pancake meets doughnut. 

The combination of flour (any type, just not strong bread flour) milk, eggs, perhaps a raising agent, is something that cuisines from around the world take in myriad directions; pancakes are a truly global dish. Push the boat out at Bob Bob Ricard or its ‘glamorous and glittering’ Cité sibling and enjoy savoury Russian blinis with crème fraîche and caviar, or eat pancakes in their simplest eggless form at classy London fixture, Hakkasan, where the translucent discs are the perfect vehicle for the restaurant’s signature Peking duck, cucumber, spring onion and XO sauce.

In Japanese restaurants look out for okonomiyaki. Inspectors took to the version of the day at Koj, Cheltenham, its classic batter-cabbage-onion base topped with shiitake mushrooms, plenty of sriracha and the umami depth of bonito flakes. Finish a meal at Hampstead’s Jin Kichi restaurant with dorayaki, a Japanese sweet pancake typically stuffed with red-bean paste.

Know your dosas from your uttapams, your appams from your hoppers? Check out the aptly named and hugely popular Hoppers (a new branch in King’s Cross joins those in Soho and Marylebone) where this street food staple of South India and Sri Lanka – hopper is the anglicised term for appam – is the base for vibrantly flavoured dishes. Made from rice flour and coconut milk, the bowl-shaped pancake is crisp-edged and soft-centred, the perfect container for a baked egg, curry, and punchy sambals and chutneys. Order a dosa too; a giant cone-shaped crêpe might come filled with spiced potatoes and is perfect to scoop through more of those chutneys.

Pancakes are as common for breakfast throughout India as they are in the UK and USA. Why not start your Shrove Tuesday this year at Dishoom (there are branches in Manchester, Edinburgh and throughout London) where a stack of pancakes comes with berries, shrikhand (curd), jaggery syrup and coconut flakes, or at Vivek Singh’s Cinnamon Club (or its easygoing Cinnamon Kitchen offshoots in Oxford, Battersea and the City) for fluffy uttapam – basically a thicker dosa – with lentil sambhar and coconut chutney. Makes a change from lemon and sugar…