Pancakes are a wonderful, versatile food and learning how to make them is easy – once you know the basics. Here are our top pancake making tips that will help you make thick and fluffy American-style pancakes and those delicate, lacy crêpes.
Cooking your pancakes
It’s best to use a heavy-bottomed pan or skillet, if you have one. This is because they absorb and distribute heat better than thinner, lighter pans, and so will cook the pancakes evenly. Pans without a non-stick coating usually cook more evenly, so if you’re buying a new one go for stainless steel or iron.
Not sure if your pan is hot enough? Splash a few drops of water onto the pan and they should dance and sizzle. The first pancake probably still won’t be perfect, but at least you get to eat the spoils!
Vegetable oil can make cooking your pancakes easier. Butter tastes great and is often suggested in recipes, but it does burn quickly if your pan gets too hot.
Making American-style (drop scone) pancake making tips
The key to lovely soft American-style pancakes is only adding the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients just before cooking. Leave the dry ingredients in moisture for too long and you’ll end up with a plate of dense, heavy pancakes.
- Following on from the last point, don’t over-mix your batter. Over-mixing will cause the gluten in the flour to become tough. Stir your wet and dry ingredients together just long enough to combine them.
- Don’t worry about any little lumps in the batter – get it in the pan as quickly as possible.
- For airy pancakes, separate the egg whites from the yolks. Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Add the yolks to the other wet ingredients in your recipe, and then combine with the dry ingredients. Now gently fold the beaten egg whites into the mixture and cook immediately.
- If you’re planning on making the batter the night before, try to use a recipe that contains yeast or baking powder. These raising agents will give the batter a little boost and help prevent it from turning gluey overnight.
- For perfect American style pancakes, cook a ladle full of batter on one side until bubbles start to appear on the surface. Use a spatula to peek underneath. If the pancake is golden brown, it’s ready to flip. Remember that the second side will cook much faster.
- Avoid pressing it down with the spatula or you’ll squash all the fluffiness out of it.
- Chef’s tip: While the pancakes are cooking on the first side, you can drop in delicious toppings such as blueberries, raisins, fruit pieces, or chopped nuts.
Crêpe-style pancake making tips
- For the best results, your batter should have the same thickness as double cream.
- If time allows, allow the batter to rest for at least 30 minutes before cooking (some chefs even suggest leaving it in the fridge overnight for a better texture). While not strictly necessary, this step gives the gluten time to develop for a more interesting flavour and lighter crêpes.
- Heat your pan slowly. Whacking up the heat straightaway can leave you waiting for your hob to cool after you accidently burn your first pancake (especially if you’re cooking on electric). Start at a medium heat and the turn it up a little as needed.
- If you’re cooking crêpes, getting the right about of batter in the pan is important. Each crêpe will equate to roughly three tablespoons of batter. Since crêpes cook very quickly, you should add this all at once using a ladle or plastic cup.
- To distribute crêpe batter evenly, add it to the centre of the pan and then tilt the pan in a circular motion so the batter spreads out towards the edges. You’ll have to do this super-fast. Don’t worry if it isn’t a perfect circle; how it tastes is always more important.
- As they are so thin, crêpes take very little time to cook. Peek underneath the crêpe after one minute. If the edges are crisp, the bottom golden brown, and the surface no longer shiny, it’s time to flip. The second side will only need around 30 seconds in the pan.
- Really pushed for time? Crêpes can be made in advance and either refrigerated or frozen until you need then. Just stack then between layers of greaseproof paper and then seal them in a Ziploc bag (with an extra covering of Clingfilm if freezing). Freeze for a maximum of two months.
Got any other great pancake making tips? You can share them by leaving them in the comment box below.