Shrove Tuesday pancakes

This is my favourite recipe for pancakes. I make it every year for Shrove Tuesday.  I love eating my pancakes with lemon and sugar, but they’re also delicious eaten with Seville orange juice and sugar, Nutella, melted chocolate or warm strawberry jam!


The pretty illustration opposite is by Neil Packer and comes from the March chapter of my first book Modern British Food, in which this recipe appears.  See the Books page, if you’re tempted to go shopping.


You can make savoury pancakes from the same recipe, just exclude the sugar and the liqueur.  Variations can be made by adding finely chopped herbs to the batter or even flavoured oils such as sesame.  They also freeze well.

Makes 12 pancakes

115g/4oz plain flour

pinch of salt

pinch of caster sugar (optional)

1 medium egg

170ml/6fl oz milk

55ml/2fl oz water

1 tablespoon sunflower oil

1 tablespoon liqueur (depending on what you have to hand, e.g. Calvados)

sunflower oil for frying

extra caster sugar

2 lemons, each cut into 8 wedges, pips removed


1  Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a bowl and make a well in the centre.  Lightly beat the egg and pour into the well.  Mix together the milk and water and slowly add to the egg, beating with a wooden spoon.  Gradually incorporate the flour from the sides of the bowl.  Beat until smooth.


2   Stir in the oil and alcohol.  Strain through a fine sieve into a jug.  It can be covered and left in the fridge for an hour if wished. 


3  Heat a small (15cm/6inch) heavy frying pan or non-stick frying pan.  Rub with a thick wadge of oil-soaked kitchen paper. 


4   When the pan is very hot and well greased, pour in about 2 tablespoons of the batter and rotate the pan so that it is evenly coated in a thin layer.  As soon as the batter begins to set and form small bubbles, loosen the edges with a greased palette knife and flip over.  Cook for another minute or so, then slip the pancake on to a warm plate and cover with a cloth. 


5   Grease the pan once more and repeat.  Any excess batter can be poured back into the jug.  As soon as the pancakes are cooked, serve with lots of caster sugar and lemon wedges.


Note:   I was taught that you should always let your pancake batter rest for 30 minutes before use, however, I don’t think it makes any difference to the final texture of the pancake.

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 Illustration © Neil Packer 1995