Pancake Tuesday, also known as Shrove Tuesday, marks the beginning of Lent, 40 days of Christian fasting before Easter. If you're planning to fast, it's a last chance to enjoy a tasty treat and use up eggs and butter that might otherwise go off. If not, it's an annual challenge to flip a pancake without it landing on the floor or sticking to the ceiling. Making pancakes may seem daunting to the novice, worried they may burn, stick to the pan or fall apart. Follow these simple recipes though and you'll get perfect pancakes every time.
Sift 60g flour into a mixing bowl, along with a pinch of salt. Crack a medium-sized egg into another bowl. Beat the egg with a whisk, gradually pouring in 175ml milk, until the mixture is even-coloured. Tip your mixture into the flour. Whisk thoroughly, until your batter is free of lumps. You'll have enough for six-to-eight pancakes.
Place the frying pan over a low heat. Dip kitchen paper into vegetable oil and rub this over the pan until it is evenly coated. Turn up the heat to medium. Pour a thin layer of batter over the base of the pan, about as thick as a sheet of paper. Tilt the pan from side to side to spread the batter evenly.
Fry the batter for about half a minute, until the edges of a pancake start curling away from the sides of the pan. Shake the pan sharply to free your pancake, then jerk the pan sharply upwards. Your pancake should flip neatly over. If you're worried it won't, lift your pancake gently and turn it over with a palette knife.
Fry the reverse of the flipped pancake for just a few seconds, then tip it onto a warm plate. Cover it with a sheet of kitchen paper. Make another pancake and when it's ready, tip it on top of the kitchen paper. Form a stack of pancakes this way, with a sheet of kitchen paper between each one.
Lemon and sugar
Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over a pancake, fold it into quarters and arrange it on a plate. Sprinkle over a little sugar. Caster sugar gives a fine finish, while granulated adds a satisfying crunch. Add a couple of lemon wedges and the pancake's ready to eat. Chef Delia Smith calls this the "classic" way to serve pancakes.
Fruit and spice
Substitute a handful of chopped berries for lemon and sugar, to serve a healthier pancake. Blackcurrants, blueberries, raspberries or strawberries are all good choices, perhaps with a dollop of yoghurt or cream. For a spicier serving, try a little chopped mango and pineapple with a teaspoon of chopped, preserved stem ginger.
Melt 60g butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Add 125g sugar, 4tbsp golden syrup and the same amount of water. Stir gently, allowing the mixture to simmer but not boil. Add four chopped bananas. Simmer for two minutes, then remove from the heat. Stir 125ml double cream into the cooling sauce, drizzle it over pancakes and serve.
Ham and cheese
Melt 25g butter in a saucepan. Whisk in 25g plain flour. Cook for one minute, stirring continuously. Gradually add 225ml milk, stirring as you bring your sauce to the boil. Reduce the heat. Simmer for one minute. Add 50g of grated Emmental cheese. Season with black pepper. Pour the sauce over pancakes. Add a little chopped ham, sliced Emmental and a few olives.
Tomato and mushroom
Fry 125g mushrooms in a little olive oil for 5 minutes, until they are browned and tender. Cut 125g cherry tomatoes in half. Add the tomatoes to the mushrooms and fry for two minutes. Turn the heat down to low and add two tablespoons single cream. Stir gently, then pour the mixture over your pancakes.