There is nothing quite as enjoyable as festive family fun in the kitchen, and creating delicious, simple and quickly made pancakes, makes for perfect togetherness all round.
Scotch pancakes or drop scones, as they are sometimes called, are a different kettle of fish compared to flat American pancakes. The former are fluffy and risen because of the use of baking powder. Scotch pancakes can be compared to French crepes but, being scone based, are still different and melt in the mouth.
Light and delicious, Scotch pancakes are a long way from the original pancakes of our ancestors who inhabited the planet in ancient times.
According to archaeological research, Neanderthal peoples were heavily dependent on a form of pancake, along with soups, for their basic nutrition; their pancakes were made from wild grains soaked in water and baked on hot stones beside or inside an open fire and were probably a solid meal.
Pancakes, in various forms, were popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans too. The latter enjoyed them dipped in honey, which sounds scrumptious, whilst native Canadians and Americans devoured them liberally coated in maple syrup, another delicious alternative.
The basic version given here, can be flavoured and dressed up in just about anything your imagination and appetite can agree on. Tossing in handfuls of chocolate chips prior to cooking, can have a bit of a messy result, to put it lightly!
This festive season, why not have a family competition, all hands in the kitchen and see who can win the ‘gourmet pancake creation’ prize?
One large bowl of basic pancake batter can easily be divided into four smaller portions, which four family members or friends can get inventive with.
Lots of laughter guaranteed and, all going well, a festive feast to follow.
350g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Half teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
A little oil for frying
Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Pour in the eggs and half of the milk. Whisk using a hand or electric whisk, adding the rest of the milk bit by bit. Continue whisking until the batter is free of lumps and smooth.
Heat a frying pan, and brush lightly with oil, taking care that it doesn’t spatter and burn you. Using a ladle, carefully pour in just enough of the batter to form a pancake/s of whatever size you desire. Cook on medium to high heat for 3 or 4 minutes on one side and then flip the pancake over and cook until nicely done. The number of pancakes you can fit in one frying pan depends on how big you want them to be or how hungry you are!
Serve plain pancakes, hot or cold, spread with butter, jam and cream, with soft or hard cheese, spread them with peanut butter or some other kind of spread, or offer them up with salads and dips. They are superb with hummus, with fried or scrambled eggs and sausages or with just about anything else you like to eat.
Variations: You can make the pancakes sweet or savoury, nutty or fruity and serve them up piping hot and dripping with butter or chilled with fresh fruit and cream or ice-cream.
Apple pancakes: Stir finely sliced apple, and a little sugar into the basic pancake batter, if you want something quite sweet. Spicing them up with a bit of cinnamon powder turns them into a really special treat. Serve hot or cold with cream, ice-cream or whatever else tickles your fancy.
If apples aren’t to your taste, or are not in season, simply use something that is. Mangoes, guavas, bananas, apricots, plums, pears, strawberries, peaches can all be used but, a word of warning, don’t use citrus fruits, as the citric acid they contain can curdle the batter. You can, of course, serve fresh citrus fruits with plain pancakes but that has already been covered above.
Parsley and garlic pancakes: Stir plenty of finely chopped, fresh parsley, crushed garlic, salt and black pepper to taste into the batter and fry the pancakes as given above. These are great with anything cheesy, with hummus and salads and soups and so on.
Tip: Make up a batch of basic pancake batter and then divide it between 3 or 4 bowls. Add selected flavourings to each bowl so that you end up with a variety of different tasting pancakes to feast on.
Originally published in Dawn, EOS, December 12th, 2021