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My How to Make Pancakes guide provides you with step-by-step instructions to make proper English pancakes. They’re the kind that most people only make on Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday. But I’m a firm believer that “proper pancakes” are a year round treat!
These pancakes should not confused with the fluffy american kind or the more lacy french crepe. I’ve always called this kind ‘proper pancakes’ or ‘English pancakes’. They’re flat but not quite as thin as a crepe and have a little chew.
Pancakes are perfect at any time of the year but are especially traditional on Shrove Tuesday or ‘Pancake Day’ as we Brits like to call it.
Whilst ‘Pancake Day’ is the day on which you effectively must cook and eat these pancakes, I am a firm believer that pancakes are for the everyday, not just for former religious holidays.
I use them for multiple sweet and savoury dishes. The classic favourite is just to top with sugar or golden syrup but I equally love to use them as a wrap with bacon and eggs (shocker) or in place of tortillas or pasta in a layered bake.
How Difficult Are Pancakes to Make?
The good news is that Proper Pancakes are not nearly as difficult as Blue Peter Presenters have made out over the years. Not even close in fact. Watching them screw it up is however still quite funny….
The first rule of pancakes is to back the hell away from those mixes that now line every supermarket and convenience shop from late January until Shrove Tuesday. They’re just very expensive flour and a bit of dried egg.
You only need 4 things to make pancakes (plus any toppings) – Plain Flour, Eggs, Milk and Salt. The recipe is in fact basically the same as for Yorkshire Puddings. It also takes 2 minutes to make the batter and just a little patience to batch cook.
Why Does The First Pancake Fail?
The big, apparently unanswerable, question always appears to be “Why does the first pancake never work?” or its variation “Why do you always have to throw the first pancake away?”
These questions baffle me. Firstly, I’ve never had to throw my first pancake away. It is not a given. Secondly, the answer to the question is that the pan is not hot enough. Heat the pan more before adding the batter. See, it is answerable!
You can make these simple pancakes in advance for a larger group and keep them warm in the oven on low or heaven forbid, give them a quick nuke in the microwave before serving.
Tips for How to Make Pancakes
A few lumps in the batter are not the end of the world, don’t stress about it.
Many recipes will tell you to leave the mixture to ‘rest’. You can do. There is no problem preparing the batter in advance but I’m yet to establish any actual benefit of leaving it.
After mixing, you can transfer the batter to a jug for easy pouring, otherwise make sure you have a ladle handy.
Wait until the pan is properly hot before starting.
If the pan is still a little too hot and the batter starts to cook through before it has spread to the pan edges, hold the pan away from the heat until the batter has spread then return it to the heat.
How to Make Pancakes into a Feast
I truly believe that you can make any dish into a proper feast! Whether thats a feast for one after work on a Tuesday, a casual feast for four on a Friday evening or a feast for 12 for a special occasion!
In addition to both making an excellent addition to any Brunch Feast, you can make these pancakes into a feast all themselves.
You can make a savoury course by cooking bacon and eggs like those in my Club Sandwich but wrapping the fillings in pancakes. You could keep them plain or even drizzle with a little maple syrup. Or wrap the filling from my Puff Pastry Pie in the pancakes, lay in a baking tray, sprinkle with cheese and bake until warmed through and bubbling.
This can be followed by a sweet course using exactly the same pancakes! Go simple with sugar (and lemon juice), go super sweet with a drizzle of golden syrup. Or go all out by rolling fresh fruit and nutella and serving with freshly whipped cream. I told you a feast can be made!
Ingredients for Pancakes
It is very important that you do not use a flour that contains any raising agents. In the UK this is known as ‘plain flour’ and in the US it is ‘all purpose flour’. A raising agent will give you the wrong texture for this kind of pancakes.
Sea Salt Flakes
As I always use Sea Salt Flakes rather than table salt, I use what feels like more. The mellow flavour of the sea salt flakes means that this isn’t so but if you do insist on using table salt, half the amount stated in the recipe.
As the salt doesn’t have a lot of time to dissolve in the batter, I make sure to crunch it in my fingers as I add it to the flour. This means that there are smaller pieces which dissolve quicker.
I only acknowledge the existence of Large Eggs. But this batter is very forgiving and if you have different sized eggs, it won’t make any great difference. In fact, I sometimes only use 1 instead of 2 eggs. No harm no foul. Pun intended.
Again I only keep skimmed milk in the house. Its what I was raised on and what I prefer. It is therefore what I have made these pancakes with my whole life. Like with the eggs, using semi-skimmed won’t make a world of difference. If you want to use whole milk, I would mix it with a little water or the batter may turn out too thick.
Oil spray is one of the best kept secrets in cooking. It makes evenly coating a frying pan so much easier than using pouring oil. The world has started up and provides oil in pump sprays. They aren’t full of cack like that 1 cal spray that the slimming clubs get all horny about.
But if you have not invested in a spray, you can use a drop of oil or butter for each pancakes and spread it around the pan using a pastry brush (silicone only or it’ll melt!).
Make it Allergy Friendly
Pancakes are free from nuts.
Gluten Free: Substitute the plain flour with a gluten free blend. Free From Fairy makes the best blend. You’d never know it was gluten free.
Dairy Free: You can use a dairy-free milk in place of the skimmed milk.
Egg Free: Whilst it is possible to make pancakes without the egg in the recipe, I would be inclined to use whole milk to give the batter more body. Otherwise using a vegan liquid egg substitute would be the best idea.
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
How To Make Pancakes – Equipment Notes
I use regular medium sized frying pan to make my pancakes. Always non-stick. You can of course purchase a specialised pancake pan which has shallower sides but unless you only otherwise own non-non-stick pans, I’m not sure they’re worth the storage space.
A decent fish slice is essential. A nice silicone number will slide nicely under the pancakes but not cause any damage to your non-stick pan.
To see more of my recommended equipment items for new bakers, have a look at my post featuring all the essential equipment you might need.
It is also perfect inspiration for gifts for a budding baker in your life!
A comprehensive list of the equipment used to make this recipe is included in the main recipe card below. Click on any item to see an example. There are no hard and fast rules so many items can be sensibly substituted to achieve the same results.
How to Make Pancakes – Step by Step
Measure 175g Plain Flour into a medium mixing bowl and add 1 tsp Sea Salt Flakes.
Crack 2 Eggs into the flour and add a little of the 250ml Milk.
Whisk together to form a thick paste. Try to beat out as many of the lumps as possible. The thicker the mix is at this point, the easier it is to get the lumps out.
Add the rest of the milk a little at a time until all combined.
Take a (24cm) frying pan and put onto a high heat until it is just starting to smoke then turn the heat down to medium.
Spray 3 to 4 sprays of Spray Oil into the pan, trying to coat the whole surface.
Take a ladleful of batter and pour into the centre of the pan with your dominant hand whilst starting to swirl the batter around the pan with your other hand.
When the batter is no longer liquid on top of the pancake (only 30 seconds or so), use a flat spatula to gently tease the pancake away from the pan. It is ready to flip once the pancake can be shaken around the pan loosely.
Flip the pancake. You can either do this by practising throwing the pancake up in the air and catching it. Or, if you’re not trying to show off, use the spatula.
Give the pancake another 30 seconds or so on the second side.
Move the pancake to a plate and put in the warm oven.
Repeat with the rest of the batter until it is used up. Add each cooked pancake to the plate in the oven as it is cooked.
Still Have Questions?
Simple! Just contact me and I will do my best to help as quickly as I am able. Head over to my Contact Me page, any of my social media channels or post a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll see what I can do.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
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Instructions in Brief
How to Make Pancakes
- 175 g Plain Flour (All Purpose)
- 1 tsp Sea Salt Flakes
- 2 Eggs
- 250 ml Milk – Skimmed
- Oil Spray
- Measure 175g Plain Flour into a medium mixing bowl and add 1 tsp Sea Salt Flakes.
- Crack 2 Eggs into the flour and add a little of the 250 ml Milk.
- Whisk together to form a thick paste. Try to beat out as many of the lumps as possible. The thicker the mix is at this point, the easier it is to get the lumps out.
- Add the rest of the milk a little at a time until all combined.
- Take a (24cm) frying pan and put onto a high heat until it is just starting to smoke. Then turn the heat down to medium.
- Spray 3 to 4 sprays of Spray Oil into the pan, trying to coat the whole surface.
- Take a ladleful of batter and pour into the centre of the pan with your dominant hand whilst starting to swirl the batter around the pan with your other hand.
- When the batter is no longer liquid on top of the pancake (only 30 seconds or so), use a flat spatula to gently tease the pancake away from the pan. It is ready to flip once the pancake can be shaken around the pan loosely.
- Flip the pancake. You can either do this by practising throwing the pancake up in the air and catching it. Or, if you’re not trying to show off, use the spatula.
- Give the pancake another 30 seconds or so on the second side.
- Move the pancake to a plate and put in the warm oven.
- Repeat with the rest of the batter until it is used up. Add each cooked pancake to the plate in the oven as it is cooked.