I don’t hold with this giving-things-up-for-Lent business. Pancake Day is meant to be a way to use up all the good things in your larder before embarking on 40 days of mealy-mouthed asceticism. Having given up giving-things-up for Lent myself, I like to eat pancakes year-round, but if you’re one of those for whom this is a once-a-year treat, here’s a recipe for some lovely, lacy pancakes flavoured with orange flower water, which makes them light and delicately floral. In the picture above, I’ve stuffed them with whipped Chantilly cream (whip the cream as usual, but add a tablespoon of caster sugar and a few drops of vanilla essence to every pint) and blueberries, then drizzled them with maple syrup, but there are plenty of other simple fillings you can try:
- Lemon juice (or lime juice) and sugar
- A couple of tablespoons of juice straight from an orange with a sprinkle of sugar and a few more drops of orange flower water
- Melted butter and caster sugar
- Sweet chestnut purée
- Maple syrup and bananas
- Golden syrup
- Strawberry jam and cream
To make about 12 pancakes, you’ll need:
220g plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
550ml whole milk
2 tablespoons orange flower water
Shortening or vegetable oil for cooking the pancakes (shortening is best)
Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl, and make a well in the middle. Break the eggs into the well and whisk with a balloon whisk, pouring the milk in gradually. Eventually, you should have a smooth batter about the same consistency as single cream. Stir the orange flower water into the batter. This batter doesn’t need to stand before you use it.
Heat about 1 tablespoon of shortening in a large pan over a high heat. The pan should be as hot as you can get it if you don’t want your first pancake to be a flabby disaster. Swirl about ⅓ of a ladle of the batter around the pan (adjust the amount for smaller pans). You should have not quite enough batter to make it to the edges of the pan if you want to have a lacy pancake with a delicate frilly, crisp edge. Flip the pancake over after about 45 seconds. I always use a spatula for this operation, having experienced a childhood pancake/ceiling incident – if you are brave and strong in the wrist, toss the pancake in the pan. Cook the raw side for another 45 seconds, and slide out onto a plate.
We usually eat these one by one as quickly as I can cook them, but if you want to make a great heap of pancakes and serve them all at once, you can wrap the pancakes in foil and keep them in a very low oven, although this does some violence to the lovely crisp edges. It’s best to eat them straight from the pan for the best texture.