Pancake day comes but once a year (2024 it’s 13th February), and in the UK a lot of us only eat pancakes on that day. However, pancakes are so versatile (and tasty), we should eat them more frequently. We mostly cook traditional English pancakes, but if we’ve got a glut of too ripe bananas, then we do 2 ingredient banana pancakes.
They’re the dessert of choice when I’m not around to cook dinner. In our house I usually make the batter, but the job of cooking them is with the OH or N. It’s their treat when they’re catering for themselves.
We tend to make traditional English pancakes, rather than the chunkier fluffy American style pancakes. Or the little scotch pancakes my mum used to make us when I was a child.
I’m sharing the traditional English pancakes recipe that we use, plus an alternative in 2 ingredient banana pancakes.
The thinner large pancakes we have can be folded or rolled up with toppings inside. Or just eaten flat with toppings on top. We prefer the latter.
What’s the difference between English pancakes and American pancakes?
English pancakes are more like crepes, flat and thin. There’s no baking powder involved to fluff them up like American pancakes. They’re also larger, a full pan size. Whereas American pancakes are thicker and fluffier, smaller.
Find out more about pancakes around the world.
Why does the first pancake always end up a bit rubbish?
It’s well known that the first made pancake is always a bit rubbish. It’s not always circular, it might be a bit uneven because you’ve not got the right amount of batter in the pan.. Also, because the pan is just getting to the right temperature, the first pancake is like the trial one. The second pancake on will always cook more evenly.
That doesn’t mean you can just get rid of the first pancake. It might not look pretty, but grab it quick as the chef’s perk for cooking!
Do you have to rest pancake batter?
Ideally you’re meant to rest pancake batter for around 30 minutes. The reason is to give the flour more chance to absorb the liquid ingredients. This in turn should make for lighter fluffier pancakes. But for flat English pancakes we don’t see any difference when resting or not. So we don’t bother.
However, it’s useful if you want to make the batter before your main course, which means you just have to cook later, rather than prep and cook.
What can you do with leftover pancake batter?
On the rare occasion that we have leftover pancake batter, I just pop it in the fridge covered. Then we have pancakes for breakfast the next morning. You could also use it to make battered apple slices.
Traditional English pancakes recipe
Pancakes are so easy to make with ingredients that most people have to hand all the time. You don’t need a mixer, as the batter’s easy to mix by hand. You just need:
- Frying pan
- Mixing bowl or large jug
- Whisk (or fork)
- Thin spatula or fish slice for turning or flipping
Makes around 8-10 depending on the size of your pan (we usually double up the batter mix because there’s never as much as recipes say for the size of our giant pan!).
- 110g plain flour
- 2 large eggs
- 200ml milk mixed with 75ml water
- 2tbsp melted butter
- Pinch of salt
- Butter for cooking
1. Put the flour into a bowl or large jug, break the eggs into a ‘well’ in the middle of the flour and start to mix in with a fork. Then gradually add the milk and whisk until it’s a smooth fairly runny batter. Add and mix in the melted butter and the salt.
2. You can rest your batter for 30 minutes. But we’ve not found much difference if we do or not. If you rest it, just whisk it up again before using.
3. Put a frying pan on a medium heat, and add a small amount of butter, then wipe away the excess with kitchen paper.
4. When hot, ladle in a thin layer of pancake batter and move the pan to spread it over the base, then cook for around a minute until golden, then flip (or turn) and cook until the second side is golden.
5. Ideally serve up as you make them. But you can keep them warm in a low heated oven while you cook the rest of the batter up.
6. Serve with your favourite toppings.
Cold pancakes can be layered between baking parchment, then wrapped in cling film and frozen for a couple of months. Just leave at room temperature to defrost, then heat through each in a pan again before serving.
If you’re avoiding wheat, or have a glut of overripe bananas, why not try these 2 ingredient banana pancakes instead.
2 ingredient banana pancakes
Makes 6-8 small pancakes
- 1 ripe large banana (or 2 small ones)
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- Butter or oil, for cooking
Optional (one or a mix of if you choose)
- ⅛ tsp baking powder (if you want the pancakes fluffier)
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (to turn them into chocolate banana pancakes)
- Chocolate chips or blueberries
1. Peel and mash the banana until it’s as smooth as you can get it. Small lumps are ok.
2. If using, add baking powder, vanilla extract, or cocoa powder for the flavourings, and mix in.
3. Gradually add the eggs whisking until it becomes a runny batter.
4. Put a frying pan over a medium heat. Add a little butter or oil to swirl around the pan
5. Put a 1-2 tablespoons of batter into the pan, it should sizzle. If it doesn’t turn up the heat. You should be ok to cook 3-4 small banana pancakes at a time depending on the size of your pan.
6. If using chocolate chips or blueberries etc, drop these into the top as the bottom is cooking.
7. Flip over very gently when the bottom is lightly browning. They’re not the easiest to turn over due to the loose batter.
8. Cook on the second side for another minute, then serve immediately. You can keep them warm while the rest is cooked.
What type of pancakes do you like? What are your favourite toppings?