On a recent shopping trip, my son was taken aback by the boxes of pancake mix on the store shelf. “Why would anyone need a mix for pancakes?” he asked me. “They’re so easy.”
He’s not wrong. Recipes like Jamie’s brilliant One-cup pancakes are easy enough to mean this beloved breakfast dish can be quickly made from scratch. In fact, my six-year-old prepped the very pancakes in these photographs, which we cooked and ate together.
Over the years I’ve taught my children the art of the pancake, so they are well versed in their preparation. As with many simple dishes, there are subtle tweaks you can make that will make them extra-special and I’m sharing my best with you today.
Haul out your cast iron pan and dig out your measuring spoons, because it’s time to cook a stack of pancakes.
Skip the white flour and feature whole grain ingredients instead. Try spelt, oat, or whole-wheat flour. We love my recipe for fluffy Buttermilk buckwheat pancakes so much that they made the cover of my new cookbook.
Both butter and buttermilk also contribute significantly to the flavour of pancakes. In my opinion, they are both a necessity. Buttermilk contributes a subtle tang and butter adds sweetness.
Use a light hand and don’t overbeat the batter. As much as I love to involve my children in making pancakes, I like to take over when it is time to combine the wet and the dry ingredients. It only takes a few gentle folds – and don’t worry about the lumps.
Fry the pancakes immediately after mixing. The buttermilk will react with the baking soda, giving you pancakes that puff nicely when they hit the pan. The longer the batter sits around, the less height you will get.
A cast iron pan over steady, medium-low heat is the best choice of pan for frying perfect pancakes. Cast iron distributes heat very well, which allows for even cooking on the pancake surface.
I use basic cooking oil for frying pancakes. Butter gets added at the table, but it makes the pan smoke if used for cooking. A silicone brush is handy for applying a thin coating of oil to the pan.
To make sure the pan is hot enough, drop a dab of batter into the pan. It should make a satisfying sizzle.
Flip when you see the bubbles pop on the top of the pancake. Don’t press down on the pancake or flip repeatedly, or they will be dense.
To keep pancakes hot, preheat an oven to 80°C/170°F and place a baking sheet on the rack. As the pancakes come out of the frying pan, transfer them to the baking sheet in the oven and cover them with a clean tea towel to keep them from drying out.
About 15 minutes is an ideal holding time for pancakes – then serve them with a good drizzle of your favourite homemade syrup.
We’re seldom without a stack of cooked pancakes in the freezer, ready and waiting for a quick snack or breakfast on the go. They actually freeze and reheat very well.
Cool the pancakes on a wire rack. Line a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper. Place a layer of pancakes on the baking sheet, leaving a little space in between each. Cover pancakes with another sheet of parchment and place a second layer, if needed. Place in the freezer.
Freeze for at least 6 hours, or until solid, before removing from the freezer. Working quickly, transfer the pancakes to freezer-quality resealable bags.
Label the bags with the date, then place the pancakes in the freezer and store for up to three months.
Pop pancakes in a toaster until warm and a little crispy around the edges (my preferred quick method for 1-2 pancakes).
Alternately, preheat an oven to 180°C/350°F. Place pancakes on a wire rack and bake for 7-10 minutes, or until they are hot and a little crispy at the edges. Serve at once.
Feeling inspired? Here are some of our favourite sweet pancake recipes for you to try at home:
Take this versatile crêpe recipe in a sweet or savoury direction, depending on what you fancy
A great alternative to classic breakfast pancakes, these vegan versions are the ultimate Pancake Day treat
Pancakes, chocolate, cream… this pancake cake has got the lot, and you don’t even need an oven. This cake guarantees to be the star of any Pancake Day party!Pancakes, chocolate, cream… this pancake cake has got the lot, and you don’t even need an oven. This cake guarantees to be the star of any Pancake Day party!
A little goes a long way with this stacked crêpe cake, topped with tangy candied lemon slices
This French-style pancake recipe works a treat with sweet or savoury fillings, any time of day
These fluffy American-style pancakes with sticky bananas make a super-sweet treat