Tuesday 16 February 2021 11:59 am

Spice up Pancake Day with these tips from top chefs

A highlight of the home-cooking calendar, Pancake Day – or Shrove Tuesday to give it its proper religious title – feels more important than ever this year, with palates across the country calling out for something new. We asked some of the country’s top chefs how to make something flipping brilliant.

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Michael Caines, executive chef at Lympstone Manor

Pancakes on a Sunday morning breakfast is a weekly ritual here at home. My easy pancake recipe also includes oats, which are full of vitamins, antioxidants and fibre. We usually add half a punnet of blueberries but if these aren’t to your taste, banana is a great substitute. 

Henry Omereye, chef patron at Riding House Café

My all-time favourite pancake has to be a sweet blueberry compote (served at room temperature), Chantilly cream and pure maple syrup or just served with smoked maple glazed bacon. Don’t over complicate it.

My secret is adding the egg yolks first to your mixture and allowing it to rest for three minutes then in a separate bowl beat the egg whites and combine all ingredients together. Always make sure your pan is not too hot as the batter goes in, you should be able to tilt the pan so the batter forms a thin layer over the base.

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Now gradually turn up the heat and cook for 2-3 minutes each side (keep checking so it doesn’t burn). My technique for flipping is to flick the pan up, almost aiming the tip of the pan back towards you really quickly.

Paul Leonard, head chef at Forest Side

Here’s my simple base for pancakes. It’s fool-proof, and works a charm every time. Top with whatever you like fruits, syrups, ice cream, yoghurt!  – whatever you’ve got! I like to top mine with simple homemade flavoured sugars I keep in the cupboard. Forest Side is in – would you believe it – near a forest – so we have plenty of spruce knocking around.

I make a simple spruce sugar which is citrusy and distinctive – simply blitz spruce tips with granulated sugars in equal measure, leave to dry overnight, blitz again in the morning and keep in a jar.

Victor Garvey, chef-patron of SOLA

For really fluffy, pillowy American pancakes, instead of adding whole eggs to the flour, separate your eggs, mix the milk and flour and egg yolks together and leave the egg whites on the side. Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and then gently fold in to the rest of the batter mixture. Use immediately – I cook them in clarified butter, but if you don’t have that, use a neutral, flavourless oil like groundnut oil.

Bettina Campolucci Bordi, chef and author of Happy Food 

Pancakes are a breakfast staple in my household and banana pancakes are one of my all-time favourites. I add grated apple to the batter which adds a natural sweetness and there’s something about caramelised bananas which makes them irresistible. Lastly, who doesn’t like Nutella? I like to make a big batch whenever I make this recipe and enjoy it lathered on toast for weeks to come.

Lucy Carr-Ellison and Jemima Jones, co founders of Wild by Tart

Dutch baby pancakes are the perfect alternative to buttermilk pancakes if you want to create something different for Pancake Day. We first tried them when we were working in New York, but they’re actually very much like a Yorkshire Pudding. We make one very large pancake and the whole family dives in – it’s gone in minutes!

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We like to top ours with mascarpone, raspberry compote and honeycomb. Baking them in the oven with a heavy skillet makes them fluffy in the centre and crispy on the edges.

Will Bowlby, co founder of Kricket

There are hundreds of different pancakes across India, from sweet malpua to savoury dosa, I am constantly discovering new ones. This year I am making Alle Belle which is a sweet pancake recipe from Goa and makes for the perfect afternoon treat.  If you fancy going the extra-mile, then garnish the pancakes with a dusting of icing sugar and some chopped pistachios.

Monika Linton, founder of Brindisa

For toppings, try crushed walnuts drizzled with orange blossom honey, Navarrico peaches and Greek yoghurt, or Jamón de Cebo with pan-fried chestnut mushrooms and grated Semi Cured Payoyo goats’ cheese.

Dario Avenca, head chef at Le Deli Robuchon

If you want to make something a bit different, you should use a different kind of flour, such as buckwheat or chestnut flour depending on the ingredients. For example, to make a savoury crêpe I like to use buckwheat flour, because it adds a strong flavour to the crêpe.

I’m also often asked what goes well with pancakes – the perfect combination for sweet pancakes are any seasonal fruits or preserved jams or, you can add any flavour that you like, such as orange, chocolate, nuts, butter and honey. The Cider, Moscato D’asti, Pinot Blanc or Barolo must be part of your drinks selection to serve with your crêpe.

Marwa Alkhala, chef patron at Nutshell

I like to add date molasses and a sprinkle of chopped walnut or pistachio.

Oli Martin, head chef at Hipping Hall

I like to make sourdough pancakes. The trick is to mix all the dry ingredients, add your butter, then the eggs, then add milk until you’ve got the right consistency. It should be a thick, silky smooth batter. Lightly grease your pan and warm over a medium heat, add a dollop of the mixture (American style is a bit thicker), cook on one side then flip after a minute or so to finish. Serve with whatever you’ve got knocking about in the fridge: fruit, syrups, chocolate spread, or go savoury with some crispy duck legs roasted in black bean chilli sauce.

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Bill Granger, founder of Granger & Co

My tip is to combine smashed Crunchie bar(s) with your butter – easily achieved in your food blender. Once combined, spoon onto greaseproof paper, wrap and roll into a sausage shape, twist the ends and refrigerate. You can then simply cut slices off as you need and serve.

Marcus Eaves, executive chef of Oblix at The Shard

Use self raising flour, separate your egg yolk from your egg whites and always keep some frozen berries on standby. When you make your batter, separate the eggs and keep your egg whites to one side. Whisk them to a stiff peak (a ratio of two egg whites to one tbsp caster sugar) and slowly add them to the batter. This will ensure your pancakes are super light and fluffy.

I also always keep a bag of frozen berries on hand in the freezer, as they are the perfect topping. Add them to a saucepan with a touch of orange zest and golden caster sugar. Boil the mixture until the juices become thick and shiny and then pour them over your hot fluffy pancakes.

Oliver Gladwin, chef patron at Gladwin Brothers

To make things a little more fun, use Yorkshire puddings trays and bake your pancakes as a Yorkshire pudding, with a little oil. You can make them sweet by adding blood orange curd, or serve them with a sticky white chocolate sauce and poached rhubarb.

Colin Clague, executive chef at Rüya Mayfair

If you’re bored of usual savoury flavours try adding sumac. This wine-coloured ground spice is one of the most useful but least known and most underappreciated. Made from dried berries, it has an appealing lemon-lime tartness that works brilliantly with pancakes.