For most people (I’m talking students here) Shrove Tuesday has a lot more to do with pancakes than anything else. While it has been known for certain people to go to extremes and eat nothing but pancakes, non-stop all day on Tuesday, sadly the Fresher days of hangovers and no responsibilities are over for two thirds of this university, so we will try to limit ourselves to one meal of pancakes this year. Maybe we’ll have more on Wednesday. And Thursday. But this is beside the point.
And I’m not talking about those thick, soggy, Yorkshire-pudding-batter-esque atrocities that the school canteen would dole out once a year on Pancake Day, I’m talking the thin, crisp, steaming hot ones covered in generous quantities of lemon and sugar. Traditionalist, me. On the other hand, you can do a great variation on pancakes for these cold rainy days, and introduce yourself and housemates to the lazy version, Scotch pancakes (also known as drop-scones), which are thicker, quicker, and more amenable to lashings of butter and jam.
The original idea for Shrove Tuesday was to use up all the fatty content of your larder before Lent began; once you had given up butter and cream and sugar and all the rest, it was easier because you couldn’t just pop into the cupboard for a cheeky slice of cake. Unfortunately, this principle doesn’t really have a leg to stand on today, what with CostCutter being chock-full of such culinary joys as Jamaica Ginger Cake and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. However, who is going to pass up a day devoted to food, even if the original reason is now redundant? Not me.
So, following that, a recipe for pancakes. The key to this is one, two, three; 100g flour, 2 eggs and 300ml milk. This will make about 8 pancakes, depending on the size of your frying pan. Another joy of pancakes, apart from their ease, is that they can be sweet or savoury. Fruit, ice cream, steak, cheese, mushrooms, brandy, chocolate, cinnamon and apples, bananas, syrup, bolognaise sauce, you get the idea. If savoury, cook them in olive oil, if you’re going for sweet then butter is better.
100g plain flour
1. Sift the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs and using a hand-whisk draw the flour from around the edge of the well into the egg, gradually adding more flour until you have a smooth mix.
2. Add a splash of milk to make the mixture looser, then gradually add all the milk while stirring until it is roughly the consistency of single cream (you may not need all the milk).
3. Put a frying pan on to high heat and add a generous amount of butter. Wait until it has melted and make sure it covers the base of the pan.
4. Grab a ladle, put about a ladle-full of batter into the pan and tilt the pan to spread the mixture evenly and thinly. Leave it for a couple of minutes, then carefully loosen it from the bottom of the pan using a metal spatula.
5. The Tricky Bit. Once it is loose and you can shake it around a bit in the pan, take it off the hob and give it a good old flip. Be vigorous. The timid flipper will get nowhere. Also, it never works the first time around.
6. Rinse and repeat (not literally, just add more butter) until you run out of batter or people to feed. Choose your topping, or have savoury as a main and sweet as a pudding. Go crazy, it only happens once a year.
For Drop Scones, switch the plain flour for self-raising, and use less milk so you have a thicker consistency. They are much smaller and easier to flip (you can just use a spatula). Eat American style with blueberries, or my personal favourite; with bananas and maple syrup. Treat yourself.