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The best sweet and savoury pancake toppings for Pancake Day 2024

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Published Time: 12.02.2024 - 23:40:16 Modified Time: 12.02.2024 - 23:40:16

Branch out from lemon and sugar and enjoy rhubarb and blood orange, chocolate and marshmallow, and even kale and chilli Haarala Hamilton Pancakes are deep in the British DNA, up there with Easter eggs and Christmas pudding

Branch out from lemon and sugar and enjoy rhubarb and blood orange, chocolate and marshmallow, and even kale and chilli

: Haarala Hamilton

Pancakes are deep in the British DNA, up there with Easter eggs and Christmas pudding. On Shrove Tuesday, we laugh in the face of clean eating, glorying in sugar, wheat, gluten and dairy.

Of course it’s not just us. Every nation has its personal batter bliss, whether it is paper-thin French crêpes, showy American towers of blueberry pancakes, or crisp, savoury Vietnamese banh xeo.

But unlike other countries, we barely touch them for the rest of the year, preferring a proper blowout on Shrove Tuesday. Appropriate, given that day was always intended to be a last blast before the start of Lent.

There’s no crime in buying a ready-made batter mix. But given that pancakes are among the easiest, and most fun, foods to make, it seems a waste not to get cooking. Who can resist a bit of competitive pancake flipping?

The good news is that the batter positively benefits from being made ahead. I’ve tested pancakes made both with freshly made batter and with some that is properly rested (at least an hour, and as much as overnight in the fridge) and there is no doubt rested batter makes for lighter, more tender pancakes.

Don’t be afraid to tweak the batter – it’s a great foil for added flavour. A pinch of ground cardamom will redouble its fragrance in the pan, delectable with chocolate and marshmallow pancakes. Grated citrus zest is always good too – some lime in a pancake wrapped around Caribbean jerk-grilled chicken with a mango salsa, say.

More substantial add-ins boost the texture as well as the flavour. Try adding a handful of desiccated coconut to the batter for the mango and passion fruit pancakes. 

Indulge yourself: it’s what Shrove Tuesday is all about.

How to make the perfect pancake batter for Shrove Tuesday 2024

Makes

5 pancakes

Ingredients

Method

The best topping ideas for Pancake Day 2024

Parmesan and spinach

Sprinkle grated Parmesan in the pan before pouring over the pancake batter. Cook as usual (use a fish slice to help turn the pancakes if they stick) and fill with spinach wilted in butter and seasoned with salt and plenty of black pepper.

Pancake lasagne

Put a pancake on a buttered baking tray and spread with about six tablespoons Bolognese sauce and four tablespoons white sauce. Top with another pancake, Bolognese sauce and white sauce. Repeat and finish with a fourth pancake topped with white sauce and a generous grating of Parmesan cheese. Chill until ready to eat. Bake for 30 minutes at 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4 until hot through and browned on top. Cut into wedges to serve. Enough for four people.

Kale and chilli

At London’s Luca restaurant they wrap a soft socca (chickpea pancake) around braised kale laced with chilli. It’s good with ordinary pancakes too: blanch 200g kale (tough stems removed) and chop finely with a small clove of garlic and a good pinch of salt. Mix with enough olive oil to make a pesto consistency, spread on the hot pancakes and roll up. Makes enough for two to three pancakes.

Leek, haddock and chive

Fry a sliced leek in 50g butter with half a teaspoon each of turmeric and fennel seeds, until just done. Stir in 300g cooked smoked haddock, plus four tablespoons of crème fraîche and chopped chives. Heat through and season with pepper. Fill four pancakes and serve with steamed purple -sprouting broccoli.

Crêpes brulée

Mix 500ml of ready-made custard with a tablespoon of cornflour and heat, whisking, until thickened. Fill six pancakes with four tablespoons of the custard and a couple of apricot halves. Fold the sides in then the top and bottom to make a parcel, and turn over on to a baking sheet. Dredge with caster sugar and grill until caramelised.

Chocolate and marshmallow

Rhubarb and blood orange

Seville orange and sugar

Passion fruit and chopped mango 

Caramelised pecan and maple syrup

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