Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, is the traditional feast day before Ash Wednesday which marks the start of Lent. The six weeks of Lent, remind us of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert, and is traditionally used as a time to give up certain foods. In the past people gave up items such as eggs and dairy and pancakes quickly became associated with Shrove Tuesday as they were the perfect way to use up these perishable ingredients.
Our avid young bakers at Queen’s College have been impressing us with their pancake-flipping skills this week passing with ‘frying’ colours! Pupils have made both sweet thin English-style pancakes and American-style, fluffy pancakes as well as savoury buckwheat French Ham, Egg, and Gruyère Galette Complète pancakes.
If you’re planning to whisk up a pancake treat with the perfect blend of crispiness and fluffiness, and not drop them on the floor when you flip them. Mr. Mann, Head of Food and Nutrition has a few tasty teaching tips for you:
- Give your batter at least 30 minutes to rest so the starch in the flour can absorb more moisture and to let the gluten relax
- Make sure your pan is very clean or even invest in a new non-stick pan if you can. A dirty pan or a pan with scratches will cause less-than-perfect pancake results
- Turn up the heat before you begin. To test if your pan is hot enough drip droplets of water into the pan and if they sizzle and skip across the surface you are ready
- Use either unsalted butter, which will burn or scorch less easily than salted butter, or a mix of butter and oil, which is also less likely to burn (but not a strongly flavoured oil)
- Turn down the heat to medium when you add the batter. A high temperature could make it look like your pancakes are cooked, but they might be underdone and your flips might fail
- Plus any butter cooks quickly in a hot pan and can burn if you are not careful
- Check for bubbles to start to appear and set on the uncooked side of the pancake before you start flipping to ensure your pancake does not fall apart
- When you are finished don’t throw away unused batter. You can reduce food waste with lots of recipes that will allow you to recycle leftover batter like Yorkshire puddings, bread and even muffins
- Finally, our Queen’s College secret ingredient for both sweet and savoury pancakes is to add half a teaspoon of real vanilla extract, or real vanilla paste to take your pancakes up a notch. At school, we only use real vanilla that has been sustainably sourced courtesy of the local LittlePod company. Real vanilla balances flavour, like salt or lemon juice, so it’s just enough to add something a little special to your Pancake Day!