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How celebrity chefs make the perfect pancake

Delia, Jamie and Nigella share their recipes for a Shrove Tuesday feast

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For such a simple dish, pancakes have inspired a bewildering array of variation when it comes to recipes, methods and fillings.

From paper-thin French crepes eaten sweet or savoury to Indian dosas, stout Scotch pancakes spread with butter and jam and the fluffy buttermilk variety that Americans enjoy with bacon, maple syrup and whipped cream, there’s a pancake for any time of the day.

Here celebrity chefs share their recipes and tips for making the perfect pancake.

Delia Smith’s simple tasty pancakes

Delia's quick and easy pancake recipe makes 15 of the best flattened fancies using these five ingredients: 

  • 110g plain flour 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • Two large eggs 
  • 200ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 75ml water 
  • 50g butter 

Delias recipe says to sift the flour and the salt into a good sized bowl before making a well in the centre of the flour and breaking the eggs into it. 

Whisk the eggs and the flour thoroughly, gradually adding the milk until all the liquid has been used and the mixture has the consistency of a very thin cream. Scrape any excess flour from the edge of the bowl into the mix, add the water and mix until smooth. 

Melt the butter in a pan and add two tablespoons into the mix before whisking again. 

Pour the rest of the butter into a bowl and use as required to grease the pan before each pancake. 

Get the pan really hot, then turn the heat down to medium and ladle in around 1.75tbs of mixture. Tip the batter around from side to side to get the base evenly coated with batter. Cook until golden and then flip – either with a palette knife or by tossing it into the air. 

Delia suggests the simple delights of lemon and sugar to serve, but those with a sweet tooth may wish to add some jam or chocolate spread.

Jamie Oliver’s crepe recipe

Jamie’s Normandy style buckwheat pancakes are not for the faint-hearted, with a great deal more butter and a slosh of cider.

  • 3 free range eggs
  • 100g butter, melted, plus a knob to grease the crepe pan
  • 275ml cider
  • 250ml water
  • 250g buckwheat flour

Beat the eggs and then add the butter, cider, water and a pinch of salt. Sift in the flour while beating and then allow the mixture to rest for 30 minutes. Heat a large pan and add a ladleful of batter, tilting the pan to spread, and cook until it starts to bubble. Loosen the edges and turn or flip the pancake. Serve with sweet or savoury fillings.

If you fancy something a bit different, you could try frying up a stack of US-style pancakes, delicious with anything from maple syrup and bacon to yoghurt and blueberries.

Nigella’s American breakfast pancakes

Nigella Lawson blitzes the perfect US pancakes.

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 2 large eggs (beaten)
  • 30g butter (melted and cooled)
  • 300ml milk
  • 225g plain flour
  • Butter for frying

Put the ingredients into a blender and blitz or, if mixing by hand, make a well in the dry ingredients, then beat in the eggs, melted butter and milk and transfer to a jug.

Heat a smooth griddle or pan on the stove.

When you cook the pancakes, all you need to remember is that when the upper side of the pancake is blistering and bubbling, it's time to cook the second side and this needs only about one minute, if that.

Perfect pancake tips

Don't restrict yourself to the trust old standby of lemon and sugar when it comes to toppings, says the Daily Mirror. The newspaper suggests combos such as peanut butter and banana or ice cream and peaches to liven up your Pancake Day delicacies.

Meanwhile, ITV News goes down a more practical route, with a list of tips from the Fire and Rescue service, which warns that more than half of domestic fires start in the kitchen.

So what should you do if your pan catches fire? Don’t try to move it and don't throw water on it. Turn the hob off, if it is safe to do so, put a lid on the pan if you can and if the fire is getting out of control, get out of the house and call 999.

Why do we eat pancakes on Pancake Day?

Pancake Day - more traditionally known as Shrove Tuesday - is a Christian celebration that falls on the eve of Lent, a 40-day period of penance through fasting.

Shrove Tuesday’s name comes from the old middle-English verb "to shrive", which means to confess one’s sins. During the Middle Ages, Christians would go to church before midday on Shrove Tuesday and ask God for absolution before the start of Lent. The day also gave them the opportunity to feast on all the indulgent foods that were going to be prohibited over the next 40 days.

During Lent, Christians were historically encouraged to eat only one meal per day and abstain altogether from some foods, most commonly meat. In the Middle Ages, all animal products were forbidden so as this outlawed butter and eggs, pancakes were a simple way to use up any remaining supplies.

Although the tradition of fasting has fallen out of fashion among all but a handful of Brits, the custom of feasting on pancakes, often with sweet fillings, remains alive and well.

British Pancake Day traditions

The pancake race: While most people are content to eat pancakes, some also use them for sport. Pancake races, which sees runners race down streets flipping a pancake in a frying pan, are held in towns and villages throughout the UK. The tradition is said to have originated in Olney, Berkshire, where the earliest recorded race was in 1445.

Shrovetide football: Also known as mob football, this is not for the faint-hearted. The game is thought to have emerged in the Middle Ages and is still played on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday in Ashbourne, Derbyshire. It involves an unlimited number of players on each team trying to move a large ball towards the goal by any means possible. The Ashbourne game is played over two days, starting each day at 2pm and finishing at 10pm.

Pancake Day around the world

Mardi Gras: From Italy to Brazil, Mardi Gras and Carnival have become synonymous with masks, costumes, dancing and huge parades. The French name Mardi Gras translates into English as Fat Tuesday, which once again refers to the consumption of fatty foods before the start of Lent. Mardi Gras is celebrated in several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, France, Italy and Sweden, but the biggest celebrations now take place in the Americas.

The USA: Mardi Gras celebrations are believed to have begun in the US in 1699, after two French explorers landed in today's Louisiana. The explorers held a small celebration and dubbed the landing spot Point du Mardi Gras. New Orleans now plays host to the largest celebrations, attracting millions of people every year. A number of other cities in the US, especially those with French or Spanish heritage, also celebrate the holiday.

Brazil: The Brazilian Carnival, by far the biggest holiday in the country, runs for five days in the run-up to Shrove Tuesday. Rio de Janeiro’s event attracts almost five million people, while as a whole, Carnival attracts 70 per cent of the country’s annual visitors. Nevertheless, this festival also derives from a tradition of abstention: the word carnival comes from the Latin "carnelevamen", which means "to remove meat".

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