Tag Archives: pancakes

Swedish Pancakes

When it comes to Scandinavian food, it’s all to easy to fawn over the cool aesthetic of places like Noma or think that it’s all about cinnamon buns. However, something that I really like is one of the simplest things you can make – straightforward Swedish pancakes, served the merest dusting of icing sugar and topped with lingonberry jam.

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These are made with one of those handy-to-remember recipes, based on a ratio of 2-3-6. That’s 2 decilitres of flour, 3 eggs and 6 decilitres of milk. Yes, the decilitre. Odd, huh? This is something that you come across fairly rapidly if you dare to venture into Swedish cooking, but it does at first prompt a little confusion if you’re not used to it. It’s equivalent to 100ml, but as you might have worked out by now, I’ve got a bit of an aversion to volumes-based measurements. I’ll happily measure our liquids in a jug, but when it comes to dry ingredients, I always go with my natty set of digital scales. If you’ve never tried, you really need to get a set! So much easier for getting precise quantities. Never again do you need to worry about whether flour needs to be compacted or not before adding to batter…anyway…

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These pancakes are similar to crepes. The batter is very thin (you would think that the flour is not enough for all that milk, but it is!), so when you add the batter to the frying pan, you need to make sure you quickly spread the batter to get them thin and round. When it comes to flipping, you need to be quite confident with these little fellows. If you use a non-stick pan, then the butter in the batter will stop them from sticking. It’s then just a case of shaking the pan to loosen the pancake, and then you need to flip them with a firm, confident motion. Do it this way, and the pancake with do a mid-air somersault that should impress onlookers. However, if you lose your nerve, then you’ll end up with a pancake that folds itself in half and sticks into a big, doughy mass. Be confident!

The lack of sugar in the batter also means that these pancakes work equally well with savoury or sweet flavours. If you’re trying the keep with the Swedish theme, I’d add some cheese or mushrooms. Otherwise, jam is a favourite, with lingonberry being the classic.

Now, you may or may now know that I am a bit of a compulsive collector of all manner of edible berries. I subscribe to the school of thought that says you should never pick things that you are not completely sure of, so if you’re going to don your country finest and go foraging for berries this weekend, just stick with what you know.

Anyway, I was on a trip to Finland and managed to come away with a decent amount of lingonberries from the forest to the west of Helsinki. They made it back to London, and have been hidden in the back of the freezer for a while now. I thought they would be perfect with these pancakes – I just popped the berries into a saucepan, added some water and a little sugar (one quarter of the weight of the berries) and within minutes, I had a simple lingonberry compote. If you’re not familiar with the flavour, it’s sweet and tart, but less sharp than cranberries, and it’s great on top of pancakes. If you’re in Sweden, you’ll even find the stuff served with meat and potatoes. Sadly it was too much like jam for me to think of it as something to eat with savoury dishes!

These are great for breakfast – I make the batter the night before, so you can whip up a batch first thing in the morning.

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To make Swedish Pancakes (makes 16):

• 200 ml (100g) plain flour
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 600ml milk
• 3 eggs
• 3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

1. In a bowl, mix the flour and salt with half the milk until smooth. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, and beat well. Leave to sit for 30 minutes (or overnight in the fridge).

2. Add the melted butter to the batter in a thin stream, stirring constantly.

3. Heat a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat. Add enough batter to make a think pancake, tilting the pan to make sure the batter is evenly spread. Cook until set, then shake to loosen the pancake. Flip and cook the other side.

Worth making? Of course. Who doesn’t like pancakes?

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Tom’s Kitchen (Chelsea, London)

That’s kitchen, not diner. Much as we all love the Suzanne Vega hit, try to resist the urge to hum it. Because if you do…it will be stuck in your head by now, and will stubbornly stay there for at least the next 20 minutes…actually, in all likelihood, already too late…

I’ve unexpectedly found myself with a couple of weeks of leisure time in London in the middle of January. I could have gone somewhere, but actually…and this is the big secret…London is a great place to hang out it when you’ve got time off. Sure, the weather isn’t guaranteed, but that doesn’t matter – you’ve got cafés and restaurants galore, and more culture than you can shake a large stick at. I love in particular that so many of the galleries are free, so you can pop in and consume culture in bite-sized chunks. Now, I realise that sounds terrible gauche, but in saying that, I mean you can see a few pieces at a time when your mind is fresh and clear, and really enjoy them. When you’re starting to flag, just step out side and do something else. Our great galleries contain some superb works, and really, seeing them should not be a chore. Hence – bite-sized chunks!

Yesterday I got a call from my friend Kristine to meet up. She proposed Chelsea, late breakfast and some art. The sun was shining and the morning air clear and crisp. A perfect day out.

The venue was Tom’s Kitchen, her suggestion and somewhere that is apparently well-know for its breakfasts, especially the American favourites of pancakes and French toast.

I was due at 11:15, but of course I was not on time. Stoke Newington to Chelsea is not quick at the best of times. Then factor in the randomness of London’s transport network, a seemingly endless wait in the tunnel (which was probably a minute but felt longer) and helping a couple of people with prams, and of course I ran late. So when I emerged above ground I called ahead and asked her to order me some pancakes.

Rushing through the streets of Chelsea, I felt rather happy that I’ve dressed smartly for the day. People probably think I’m going somewhere important to do important things. Of course, the reality was more mundane, just that I didn’t want to arrive to cold pancakes. Depending on what matters, I suppose that is rather important. Still, I enjoyed my little mystery dash down Onslow Square and the very picturesque Pond Place.

I arrived, hot and flustered, and settled down. The place is lovely  – all white tiles and wooden tables, and while it clearly gets busy at weekends and for lunch or dinner, if you get there during the morning of afternoon lull, it’s really quite peaceful. My pancakes were on the way, but we decided that as it was approaching lunchtime, we would order a little more. My timing was bang on – breakfast runs until 11:45, and I had about two minutes to spare. Kristine opted for the Bircher Muesli with fresh berries, and I ordered the beans on wholemeal toast with cheese.

The beans – they are very, eh, ‘huge’. The waitress told us this while at the same time gesturing with her arms that we could expect something rather massive. She was clearly aware that the pancakes plus the beans would be a challenge, and that’s always a piece of advice I’m happy to receive. Suggests they are thinking about you. But, I was hungry, and after this mammoth late breakfast, we were up for a long walk in the fresh air then some culture, so fortification was needed.

The beans came, and they were indeed huge. Lots of toast, lots of baked beans, lots of cheese on top. This was marching food in terms of portion size, so I have to credit our server for giving due warning about the volume of food we had ordered. They were fantastic. Lots of bread, loads of beans, and a lovely great big generous topping of melting cheese. Having stepped inside from the chilly streets of Chelsea, this was all very welcome.

After making short work of those beans, it was pancake time. I’d had in my head that I would be tucking in to a pile of many small pancakes, artfully arranged in a stack. It wasn’t like that. Instead, it was one thick pancake, with lots of blueberries hidden underneath. I mean lots. I can’t stand when you get only a few pieces of fruit in a dish that has the name of that fruit in the title. So today – I was very happy! The thicker, slightly spongy pancake reminded me of the German Kaiserschmarrn. A serious pancake, to provide a solid foundation for later. I probably drowned the poor thing in too much maple syrup, but it happily soaked the stuff up. A sweet, sticky, messy, fruity treat. Delicious!

Our lunch consumed (for we finished late, and well past midday, so it was getting a little silly to pretend it was still breakfast), we had a little wander through the side streets of Chelsea. Now, how posh are the street signs, enveloped in wisteria? We also took in the culture at the Saatchi Gallery just off the King’s Road. All in all, this confirmed that I really am really rather good at enjoying having time off.

So…would I go back? Definitely. Tom’s Kitchen offers some very good food and a relaxed atmosphere. Simple as that, and a great way to set yourself up during the week for sightseeing or shopping in and around Chelsea and South Kensington. But as we left, it was getting seriously busy with the lunch crowd, so booking ahead is probably no bad thing!

Tom’s Kitchen, 27 Cale Street, London SW3 3QP. Tel: 0207 349 0202. Tube: Sloane Square or South Kensington.

LondonEats locations map here.

PS…you might also notice that the pictures today are a little different – yes, this is all thanks to Instagram. Now, you may wonder why I am doing this when I am also the proud owner of a DSLR camera? Well, there are a couple of reasons. Firstly, whipping out the bad boy at the dining table is cumbersome and I think really annoying for other diners. Click, click, flash, click. I think it’s annoying, and thus don’t do it to others. The iPhone is far more discrete (well, OK in a cafe or when eating somewhere informal…I think I’ll be keeping it firmly in my pocket when it come to fine dining experiences). Plus – I like the “Polaroid” effect on these shots too, simple as that. If you’ve got a view on the subject – do share!

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Good Morning! Buckwheat Pancakes

I’ve had a bit of a thing for buckwheat for a while. It’s a versatile little grain that lends itself to being used whole in salads, but it also makes for delicious pancakes, and these are they.

So this is the situation: it’s early, you want pancakes, and you don’t want to do much thinking. The method is simplicity itself – pour everything into a bowl, and whisk. That’s it. No rubbing, no stirring in melted butter, no whipping of egg whites or folding in. Just mix, cook, drench in honey or syrup and…that’s it!

These are quite different to “normal” breakfast pancakes – there is a real earthy “nutiness” to them from the buckwheat. And…at the risk of sounding like I am jumping on the bandwagon, they are gluten-free, so perfect to whip up when you’ve got house guests who can’t eat wheat.

Now there is no need to sit there taunting them with your off-limits pancakes – make the buckwheat version instead! Just be sure to serve them with lots of honey.

To make buckwheat pancakes (makes 14-16):

• 225g buckwheat flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 300ml milk
• 50ml water

• 1 egg
• pinch of salt

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until the batter is smooth.

Heat a frying pan and grease with a little oil or butter. Pour enough batter to make palm-sized pancakes (you will get three in a large pan) and cook until the top is covered in bubbles. Flip over and cook until golden.

Worth making? These are really quick and taste really great. Best eaten warm with salted butter and honey.

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Guest Chef: Brooklyn Berry Pancakes

For those that have missed the many, many hints at the end of 2010, I spent New Year in New York this time round and had an absolute blast.

On 30 December, we had a real Mad Men evening, and headed to Midtown for dinner at the super-swish Casa Lever. This place was, quite simply, stunning. A fantastic bar with well-made (i.e. strong) cocktails, and a funky 1950s-inspired retro interior. That selection of Warhol-style prints on the wall? Eh…no…they are Warhols. I loved, loved, loved this place. The menu is not vast, but even given this, I found the veggie selection to be pretty good, and – refreshingly – rather innovative. Mushroom risotto is all well and good, but ’twas not to be seen. Instead, it was a joy to eat  their fantastic baby beet salad, followed by pear ravioli with smoked butter. Sitting in the coveted corner table, all of us dressed up smartly, it was a superb meal. We rolled out of there, and straight into the nearby Monkey Bar for more, eh, cocktails. Just a quick Old Fashioned to finish off the evening. Then into a cab and whisked through the icy streets of Manhattan, over the bridge and into Brooklyn with the glittering skyscrapers of the city piercing the freezing night air…

…however, the next morning, it is fair to say that we were a little “delicate”. I put it down to the jet lag. Honest! But we were fortunate enough to wake up to the smell of the hostess’s pancakes. After a little persuasion, she agreed to let me take the pics and post the recipe. So here as her (almost) famous Brooklyn Berry Pancakes, which also makes her my first guest chef of 2011!

In this recipe, you are looking for large fruit, and then drop three or four sizeable berries (blackberries, raspberries – fresh or frozen) onto the top of the pancakes are they sizzle in the skillet (frying pan – this word confused me at first – we really are two nations separated by a common language).

All was peaceful until I asked for syrup. Maple syrup was promptly presented with a flourish (“the finest Vermont maple syrup from our trip up there in Autumn…”), and I made a throwaway comment about how great golden syrup is on pancakes. Don’t get me wrong, I love maple syrup, but I also love golden syrup and salty butter on pancakes. But this was the wrong crowd, and there was probably nothing I could do to bring them round. The American perspective about the wrongness of golden syrup was rammed home with a tale about glazing a holiday roast in England with golden syrup and the resulting “interesting” taste experience that followed. We left it agreeing I would never persuade them, and all was good when we later dropped by Dean & Deluca in the New Year, I picked up a full 16 fl oz of maple syrup to take home. With that, we were all friends once again, not that I think we were ever not.

To make American Berry Pancakes:

• 180g plain flour
• 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• pinch of salt
• 2 tablespoons melted butter (plus extra, for frying)
• 300ml milk
• 1 egg
• 2 handfuls berries (fresh or frozen)

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, and add the melted butter, milk and egg. Whisk until smooth, adding more milk if the batter is too thick – it should be fairly thin (aim for single cream consistency) or it will thicken up too much when cooking. Pour batter into a measuring cup or something with a spout.

Put some butter in a frying pan and heat gently until melted. On a medium heat, pour enough batter the same size as “silver dollar” pancakes (about the size of your palm). When they start to bubble on top, drop a few berries on top. Flip over and when done, place on a plate in a warm oven until ready to serve.

Serve with sliced banana or apple and…pour maple syrup all over them!

Worth making? Tasty and always welcome first thing in the morning to give you the energy to head into town for sightseeing! And with that little jolt of fruit…well, you might even be able to claim that it is healthy.

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Apple Pancakes

Ah, weekend. I love a lazy Saturday morning with a big breakfast and a chance to slowly flick through the papers, annoying fellow breakfast eaters by pointing out stories of interest at regular intervals. My breakfast of choice often involved piling the dining room table high with jams, spreads, cheeses, butter, vegetables, bread and gallons of coffee, and of course a generous stack of pancakes.

I normally make little pancakes, so that you can have lots of them with different toppings, but from time to time, I also like to mix things up and make them with fruit, either blueberry, apple or ripe banana. This apple version is nice as the apple becomes warm, but says firm, and still has some texture in the finished dish. I also add a decent pinch of cinnamon, so there is a little spiciness in there, but not too much. And of course, they are utterly delicious covered in salty butter and a lot of golden syrup. Perfect to set you up for the day when you have lots of activities planned.

I’ve made this recipe several times, and while it is of course delicious if you make the batter and cook it right away, it seems to be even better if you can let the batter sit for 20-30 minutes. The science behind this is to do with the wheat flour apparently absorbing the liquid and becoming softer, resulting in a better pancake, and while I don’t know if this is really what happens, the resting time just seems to work. So get up, make the mixture, lay the table, wake the rest of the house, buy a paper, then cook them. Perfect Saturday morning.

What’s your favourite breakfast pancake? Are you for plain or fruit, and what do you like to put on them?

To make 8 apple pancakes:

• 115g self-raising flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
• 25g butter
• 1 egg
• 150ml milk
• generous pinch of cinnamon
• 1 apple, peeled and diced

Mix the flour, baking powder and cream of tartar in a bowl, and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Next, beat in the egg, cinnamon and enough milk until the mixture resembles double cream (i.e. it should flow a little bit, but it should not be runny). Fold in the pieces of apple.

Heat a non-stick pan on a high heat, and once hot, turn down to a medium heat and leave for a minute. Once the pan is ready, put spoonfuls of the mix in the pan (I put two in a large frying pan). Bubbles will form on the top. Once the burst (but the top of the pancake is still “wet”) turn the pancakes over and cook for a moment until they are also golden.

Serve with butter and a good drizzle of maple or golden syrup.

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Easy Poffertjes

Hup Holland Hup! Love it or loathe it, it is the final of the World Cup 2010 tonight in Joburg. Whether you are following Paul the psychic octopus (backing Spain) or Mystic Mani, the parrot who can see the future (backing the Netherlands) (seriously – see here), there is no getting away from it. Here at LondonEats, we are pinning our colours to the mast, and backing the Netherlands, hence today’s rather attractive header featuring all things Dutch. Clogs, bikes, tulips, windmills, cheese and Queen Beatrix. If you missed it, click here.

In honour of this occasion, I have revisited my recipe for poffertjes, but I have tweaked it to make it yeast-free. This is also a lot quicker, as you just add baking powder and go for it.

The result? While these poffertjes obviously don’t have the yeasty taste of the traditional version, I still think they are pretty good. They still puff up, and they still develop the characteristic holes on top while they are cooking. They also taste pretty good. I would just make sure to use buckwheat flour in this recipe, so that you are not moving too far from the original and you keep the “real Dutch taste”. Smothered in melted salty butter and icing sugar, these things are utterly delicious. Next on my list to try will be to develop a gluten-free version. Watch this space.

One more time – Hup Holland Hup!

To make poffertjes:

• 125g plain flour
• 125g buckwheat flour
• 1 egg, beaten
• 250ml milk
• 250ml water
• 3 teaspoons baking powder
• 50g melted butter, cooled
• pinch of salt

In a large bowl, mix the plain and buckwheat flours. Add the milk and the water to make a thick batter. You want something that looks like pancake batter – basically, the mixture should flow from the back of a wooden spoon, but should not flow too quickly. You may find that you don’t need all the water, so don’t add it all at once.

Now add the salt, baking powder, melted butter and the egg, and mix well.

To cook the poffertjes, lightly grease the pan with a little butter (if the pan is no-stick, you won’t need to do this). Heat the pan on a medium heat. Fill a sauce bottle (one with a small nozzle), and then squirt the mix into the pan (saves fiddling with spoons or a piping bag). The mixture will swell slightly as the baking powder kicks into action, so don’t over-fill. When the top of the poffertje is almost dry, flip over and cook briefly on the other side.

Once all the poffertjes are cooked, serve with melted butter and icing sugar.

Worth making? Yes yes yes! As with their yeasty cousins, they are fun to serve and are utterly delicious. Swapping the yeast for baking powder makes it even quicker to whip up a batch of these tasty little treats.

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Poffertjes (little Dutch pancakes)

We are keeping the Continental theme going here at LondonEats, but taking it up a level to something that does need a bit of specialist equipment.

One of the oddest looking items in my kitchen has the shape of a frying pan but with about 20 dimples in it. While I am sure this would offer a very nifty way to batch-fry quail’s eggs, this is in fact a pan for making poffertjes, aka mini Dutch pancakes. These are about 3cm across, and are served with butter and icing sugar. When I bought it, I actually had no idea what poffertjes were, but the thing looked so intriguing (and only cost 5 euro), so I went for it. When I told my Dutch friends what I had found and that I intended to make poffertjes, I was greeted with blank stares. This is the sort of thing you would get at fairs in the Netherlands (and somewhat bizarrely, increasingly in London), but they said that normally they would just buy them, pre-made (shudder), from the local store. As with many things, home-made is so much better, and I was resolved to press on regardless.

But how to make them? You could buy the mixture and add water, but that is (1) cheating, (2) less satisfying, and (3) you don’t really know what is in there. So I looked for a recipe. Some just involved a bit of flour, milk, egg and baking powder. This sounds like the usual pancake recipe and would be plausible, but then I learned about the secret – you need to use part buckwheat flour and include yeast in the recipe. This is a bit more work, but the taste is un-be-lieve-able. With the recipe I use, the poffertjes are in effect savoury, if not slightly salty, with a nutty wholesome flavour from the buckwheat. Once they are done, you could be sophisticated and dust over a little icing sugar and add a pat of butter, or do what the Dutch seem to do – drench them in icing sugar and then drown them in melted salty butter. Not perhaps the healthiest, but one of the most utterly delicious, buttery treats I have ever had.

If you can get hold of the right pan (the Dutch homeware store HEMA is a good bet, with branches in Belgium and Germany too), then these really are worth having a go at. Kids and Dutch people will love you all the more for making them.

To make poffertjes:

• 125g plain flour
• 125g buckwheat flour
• 1 egg, beaten
• 250ml milk
• 250ml water
• 15g fresh yeast or 1 packet dried yeast
• 50g melted butter, cooled
• pinch of salt

Dissolve the yeast in three tablespoons of lukewarm milk and put to one side.

In a large bowl, mix the plain and buckwheat flours. Add the yeast mixture, the milk and the water to make a thick batter. You want something that looks like pancake batter – basically, the mixture should flow from the back of a wooden spoon, but should not flow too quickly. You may find that you don’t need all the water, so don’t add it all at once.

Now add the salt, melted butter and the egg, and mix well.

Cover the bowl with a damp teacloth, and leave somewhere warm for at least half an hour until the mixture is covered in small bubbles.

To cook the poffertjes, lightly grease the pan with a little butter (if the pan is no-stick, you won’t need to do this). Heat the pan on a medium heat. Fill a sauce bottle (one with a small nozzle), and then squirt the mix into the pan (saves fiddling with spoons or a piping bag). The mixture will swell slightly as the yeast gets jiggy, so don’t over-fill. When the top of the poffertje is almost dry, flip over and cook briefly on the other side.

Once all the poffertjes are cooked, serve with melted butter and icing sugar.

Worth making? Absolutely yes! This might all seem like a bit of a faff, but they are fun to serve and are utterly delicious. It actually takes about 5 minutes to make the batter, and about 15 minutes to cook them. If you see a poffertjes pan on your travels, buy it immediately!

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Pancake Day

I always find Pancake Day very exciting, as this is the one day in the year that you can legitimately sit down and enjoy a whole dinner of sweet things. While the Americans enjoy maple syrup and butter and the French tuck into jam, we Brits are adding sugar and the most lip-puckering lemon juice you can find. In my opinion, lemon and sugar is the best combination for pancakes, and is definitely worth trying. If you don’t find the juice alone to be enough, try zesting your lemons first, and adding the zest too.

I also like that everywhere has their own take on Pancakes. Over the years, I have been luck enough to try the variations in the UK, France (crêpes, galettes de bretagne), the Netherlands (poffertjes) and the USA, but today I’m making Scotch pancackes. These are like the American pancakes, but not as fluffy and a lot smaller (go figure!). The benefit of small pancakes is that you can have lots of them, each with a different topping. Also, there is no standing time (as for crêpes) so they are a doddle to make first thing in the morning for hungry houseguests.

To make the pancakes:

• 115g plain flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
• 25g butter
• 1 egg
• 150ml milk

Mix the flour, baking powder and cream of tartar in a bowl, and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Next, beat in the egg and enough milk until the mixture resembles double cream (i.e. it should flow a little bit, but it should not be runny).

Heat a non-stick pan on a high heat, and once hot,  turn down to a medium heat and leave for a minute (*). Once the pan is ready, put spoonfuls of the mix in the pan (I put three in a large frying pan). Bubbles will form on the top. Once the burst (but the top of the pancake is still “wet”) turn the pancakes over and cook for a moment until they are also golden.

Enjoy with whatever you want. The Scottish way is to use butter and honey, but let your imagination run wild. And don’t forget the sugar and lemon.

(*) It is a myth that the first pancake never works. Follow this technique, and your first pancake will turn out just fine.

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