At our place, it’s me 🙂

I LOVE pancakes and especially Shrove Tuesday, as it gives me a chance to eat nought else all day should I wish. While I have managed full Pancake Days before, I didn’t quite manage it yesterday, with lunch consisting of a tuna, sweetcorn and Philadelphia bake. HOWEVER, we did have pancakes for breakfast (got to love that classic lemon and sugar topping). At my husband’s request, the breakfast pancakes were American (the smaller, thicker types, as opposed to French-style crêpes). I can’t say I really enjoyed making these much: even if they are easier to turn in the pan, they’re also easier to burn – it’s much trickier to know when they’re done.

For dinner, we plumped for Raymond Blanc’s baked pancakes with spinach, mushroom and Gruyère. I tweaked it a bit, leaving out the chives in the pancake mix (we were all out) and making a Béchamel sauce for the topping rather than the cream sauce he recommends (I prefer Béchamel, and in any case, cream supplies were depleted at the Ferret homestead as well). The recipe is from his Foolproof French Cookery book, and happily even with my adaptations, the recipes are certainly idiot-proof. However, purely out of personal preference, in future I would stick with my fave ham and béchamel filling, and have the spinach and mushrooms as a raw side salad.

(I did take pics, but my bitch of a Kodak is refusing to upload them.)

For dessert, I followed Raymond’s pancake mix recipe, making sure to add a little melted butter to the mix to make the pancakes lift off the pan a bit better (it’s seriously the best tip ever, people. Your pancakes will NEVER stick again. Unless you’re a complete moron of course.). For the topping, I made Tamasin Day-Lewis’ chocolate sauce, which was ridiculously simple to make but tasted divine. You could probably make half the amount for two pancakes; currently the other half of the mix is in a cup in our refrigerator, waiting for me to give it a good home (in my tummy).

Other good pancake toppings (included chiefly so that this post will at least have some pics until I work out how to configure my camera) that I always enjoy come Pancake Day include:

Palm Honey: This is a Canary Island speciality. I tasted it when in Tenerife in Christmas 2010 and had to have some. I bought it from the airport at an extortionate price, but it can be found cheaper online. It basically tastes like maple syrup, but stronger. It’s less watery, too.

Maple Syrup: The famous Canadian condiment, with its sweet, mild taste, is now a staple of pancake-eating across the Western world. Note: don’t eat a pancake with maple syrup on it right after you’ve eaten a pancake with palm honey on it. YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO TASTE IT.

(Other variants on this theme include normal honey, and Golden Syrup, but I don’t want to bore you.)

Nutella: I’m not sure if I’d come across the concept of Nutella on pancakes until I came to live in France, but it’s definitely a popular option here and not without good reason. A decadent but affordable choice that is best consumed while walking down the streets of Paris on a cold day.

Oranges and Grand Marnier: Not an at-home option unless you’re a particularly confident (or crazy) cook. Commonly known as Crêpes Suzette, this is usually a more expensive crêperie option, with the flambéing of the alcohol often taking place at the table with great ceremony. Totally delicious and fruity, and knocks me for six every time.

Jam: We are lucky enough to usually have a selection of home-made jams in our fridge thanks to my mother-in-law. At the moment we have redcurrant and plum jams, but to be honest any type of jam is fine spread on pancakes and allowed to melt a bit in the warmth. You might even be able to kid yourself that you’re getting one of your five a day this way…

Sugar and lemon: Of course the great classic has to be included. In France, sugar on its own is popular for reasons I can’t fathom. The lemon, for me, adds classic acidity and a certain meltiness which seems all the more heightened by the heat of the pancake.

As I’m off to New York in two days’ time on holiday (am I excited? HELL YES), I look forward to tasting the wide variety of pancake toppings that are popular there, including blueberries, applesauce, cinnamon, peanut butter and icing sugar.

If you feel affronted by my not including your favourite topping, feel free to list yours here! Share the Mardi Gras love 🙂

 

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