I’m reading a new book at the moment (cookbooks are still considered reading books in my world), The Breakfast Bible. For any of you who doubt the strong affection I have for my first meal of every day, this should tell you that I am quite serious.
‘When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,’ said Piglet at last, ‘what’s the first thing you say to yourself?’
‘What’s for breakfast?’ said Pooh. ‘What do you say, Piglet?’
‘I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?’ Said Piglet. Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
‘It’s the same thing,’ he said.
I love that quote. And it reminds me of my first and fondest cooking memory – making pancakes.
Our family holidays to Pacific Palms were the best – nothing to do but boogie board, walk along the beach collecting shells, play board games, card cards and make silly music mix tapes with my brother. For a treat we’d see a movie and get fish and chips. Although that was about 25-years-ago – I’d be quite happy with a summer holiday like that now. But the most exciting part for me, was making pancakes.
If I could’ve made pancakes for every meal, every day, I would. But I was allowed to make breakfast every second day – un-assisted in the kitchen (I was all of about 8-years-old, so this was serious grown up responsibility) and it was only ever pancakes on the menu!
Clad in my pink quilted dressing gown and matching slippers. I remember the big red plastic mixing bowl and getting all my utensils ready (there is a photo of this somewhere…). I knew the recipe by heart. Although most of my early cooking influences came from mum, Dad taught me this one – 1 egg, 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of flour.
I would set up four plates and cutlery along the edge of the laminate kitchen bench. Condiments – strawberry jam, butter, honey, lemon wedges and brown sugar. My guests would lay in bed reading until I called them to the table. The first pancake was always lightly browned the best – I still don’t know why.
To me, this was the ultimate. Cooking unaided, without a recipe and feeding my family a meal they truly enjoyed – it was all too wonderfully satisfying to only happen every second day at Pacific Palms. Maybe this is where my love of the most important meal of the day began.
The only way I still enjoy my pancakes is with a squeeze of lemon and teaspoon of brown sugar.
250g plain white or fine wholemeal flour
Pinch of sea salt
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
About 600ml milk
A little sunflower oil
Caster sugar and a squeeze of lemon, to serve
– Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the eggs, add about 50ml of the milk and start to whisk, gradually incorporating the flour into the wet ingredients in the centre. When you have a thick batter forming in the middle, add a bit more milk and whisk in a bit more flour
– Keep going in this way until all the milk has been added, all the flour is incorporated, and you have a smooth batter, about the consistency of single cream. One of the mistakes people make with pancakes is to leave the batter too thick. So if your batter is still more double than single cream, whisk in a little more milk. You can also make the batter by whizzing everything up in a food processor. Either way, let it rest for at least 30 minutes, then check the consistency again. If it’s thickened up a bit, add a dash more milk to bring it back to the right consistency
– To cook the pancakes, heat a non-stick frying pan or crêpe pan, around 20cm in diameter, over a medium heat. When it’s hot, swirl 1 tablespoon of oil around the pan, then tip out the excess. Add a small ladleful (around 50ml) of batter – just enough to coat the base of the pan – and swirl it around quickly until it covers the base. Cook for a minute or so, until lightly coloured underneath, then flip over and cook for a minute more. Depending on the pan, you may need to loosen the edges of the pancake with a palette knife before you flip