Practically perfect pancakes

Shrove Tuesday is just around the corner, and our mouths are watering at the thought of perfect pancakes! But how can you make sure your pancakes are more flip than flop!? Well, with more than 18 children between us here at Sophie Allport, we reckon we’re somewhat ‘expert’ at getting it right for a crowd of excited diners! After much trial and tribulation, here’s what we think makes a practically perfect pancake…

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Tip #1: Don’t panic – the first pancake almost always goes wrong! They’re often oddly shaped or undercooked, so consider it your test pancake. Our dogs tend to win the first one anyway…

Tip #2: Heat your pan properly. A well-oiled pan, wiped with kitchen towel and bought up to a high heat is the perfect starting point. It should be almost smoking (but take care to avoid kitchen fires or burnt batter)!

Tip #3: Understand the batter: American pancakes require gentle folding of wet and dry ingredients, using raising agents to help the batter fluff up when cooked. European pancakes, on the other hand, work best if they’re well whisked – no raising agents means you need to add the ‘air’ yourself.

We find letting our children loose on this bit is a fun opportunity for them to learn some baking skills, and leaves them doing the hard work like measuring, mixing and beating!

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Tip #4: Use a large ladle to add mixture to your pan. Tilt the pan to fill any gaps and even out lumps: if it’s evenly spread, it will cook evenly too.

Tip #5: Bubbles mean you’re almost there. Pancakes start to ‘bubble’ and ‘breathe’ after 1-2 minutes, which means it’s about ready for flipping - the mixture is cooking through and is beginning to dry out.

Tip #6: Playing it safe? Use a spatula and turn the pancake over with a quick flick of the wrist. Be brave, and do it fast to avoid it folding on itself! More of a dare devil? Forgo the spatula, angle the pan by 45 degrees and bring the pan back up sharply with a quick flick of the wrist. (Two hands might be necessary if you’re anything like us!)

All being well, the pancake will land back in the pan and you’ll feel like a pro! Our confident kids love having a go at this, and we make it extra fun by filming the flip in slo-mo on our smartphones.

Tip #7: Finally, cook the second side of the pancake for around 40 seconds, or until it’s golden brown. Don’t be tempted to push down on the pancake to cook it faster, as this can toughen it. Layer pancakes between sheets of baking paper if you want to make lots at once, and pop them in a warm oven or Aga to keep them cosy while you cook the rest.

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Now that you know how to make the perfect pancake, all that remains is to decide on your toppings! Will you be devouring a mountain of fluffy pancakes drenched in lemon and sugar, chocolate and strawberry, or blueberries and ice-cream? Or will it be something else altogether!? We’d love to know: what do you think makes a practically perfect pancake?!

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