When it comes to food, there is nothing I love more than simple, snackable and delicious. At meal times I am often criticized for being ‘boring’ – why don’t I have ketchup with my fish & chips, more salad with my pasta, or chutney with my curry. My answer is always the same: “because I like it the way it is, I appreciate its own flavour.” So while some members of my family think I’m a food-o-phobe, the reality is I want to focus on and appreciate particular elements of what’s on my plate, and I also strongly believe ‘less is more’. Good food is precious and glorious, and there’s no respect or love in taking something in excess. For these reasons I love pancakes; they are blissfully simple and humble, yet profoundly delicious. Of course, pancakes are versatile and American style ones in particular can be very rich and gluttonous, but it’s the classic, thin, wholesome ones associated with the Jesus stories, that I love.
My outright favourite pancakes are said classic thin ones, with sprinklings of nutmeg and brown sugar. I believe that nutmeg & pancake were always meant to be; the pattern of nutmeg’s interior so much like the laciness of a pancake that it seems it has pancake love in its veins and was destined to marry it. Soft brown sugar certainly enhances the dry, sweet, wholesome aspect of nutmeg, gently extinguishing any volatility the spice may have, leaving it warm and homely. I also love the ethereal feeling of tearing a soft, thin, buttery pancake and letting it fall passionately onto your tongue, fold by fold… and it’s gone so quickly, like a golden dream. Below is the recipe I use.
· 100ml whole milk
· 70g plain flour, sifted
· 50ml water
· 1 egg
· 2-3 tbsp. Soft brown sugar
· 10g butter, melted
· Butter for greasing
· Nutmeg for grating and sprinkling
· Brown sugar for sprinkling (optional)
Time: 20-30 mins
1. In a medium or smaller bowl, begin to whisk the egg with the flour, using either whisk or fork.
2. In a small jug or a mug, add the water to the milk, Add a little of this to the egg and flour mixture, whisking in, to make the consistency more smooth and creamy.
3. Gradually add the rest of the milk and water as you continue to whisk, until the mixture is as smooth and runny-creamy as can be. If you feel the need, add a little more milk and water to the jug, remembering to keep the concentration of milk higher than that of the water; and add to the mixture appropriately.
4. Time to add and whisk in the butter. Re-melt it if necessary.
5. When that’s as smooth as possible, add the sugar and mix it in.
6. Grease a small pan with butter and as soon as it begins to sizzle put in 2-3 tablespoons of the pancake mixture, rotating the pan to spread it round so that the shape of the pancake fills the bottom of the pan nicely. Leave the stove on a low heat where you can just hear the hissing of the flames. This allows you to have more control over the colour of the pancake, and higher heats won’t benefit these pancakes’ delicate structures.
7. When you feel the pancake is ready to turn over – this normally when the liquidity of the exposed side has reduced considerably and the underside is lightly crisp and golden – using tongs turn it over. The pancake is finished when you are satisfied with the appearance of both sides. Remove from the pan onto a plate, and repeat the whole cooking process for the rest of the pancake mixture.
8. Once you have all your lovely lacy pancakes, all you have to do is move them to one side of the plate and make another pile where you sprinkle over each one with fine gratings of gorgeous nutmeg, and of course if you wish, some brown sugar. Share & enjoy.