The pancake must be the most European of all dishes. It is eaten all over the continent in countless varieties, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, dessert and what not. Cheese and ham, caviar, sour cream, apples and honey – whatever the European can get his hands on, he puts/rolls/dips into and onto his pancake. Depending on the local customs, season and mood, pancakes can be just about anything – two thumbs thick or paper thin, plane or with filling, sweet or hearty. The only thing more variable than the European pancake are the drinks that go with them, but that’s a whole different story. The only basic rule seems to be that pancakes are made of flour, a liquid and a binder. The flour is usually wheat, the liquid is milk and the classic binder is an egg. But the flour can be also buckwheat or rye, the liquid can be soy milk or just water, and the binder can be a banana (if you’re a hardcore vegan). Here’s a classic recipe, for 6 pancakes (a breakfast or a light lunch for two, for a brunch or a dinner double the quantities):
- 1 cup of flour
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 egg
- 100 g strawberries
- 100 g red currant
- 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
Break the egg into the flour. Whisk the egg making sure any bits of flour from around the edge of the bowl are mixed in with the egg. While whisking, gradually add small quantities of milk. The catch is to add the milk into the flour and not vice-versa. If you add flour into the milk, it will clog and you’ll never get a smooth mixture. Remember, you can always add more milk, but adding more flour will clog the mix! Keep adding milk until the mixture is fluid, but not too fluid. The exact fluidness is personal – everyone will tell you a different story so you’ll have to go with your gut feeling and experience.
Heat a flat pan. Melt a little butter in the pan and pour the desired amount of mixture into the pan (about 2 tablespoons for a thin pancake). Swish the pan around, allowing the mixture to cover the base of the pan. Most recipes recommend turning the pancake when the underside turns golden. Since I’m no alchemist able to turn pancakes into gold and no Superman able to see through a pancake, I wait until the upper side of the pancake has changed consistency (from slightly fluid to slightly baked), count to 10, and gently lift the edge of the pancake to see if it turned brown. If it has, its time to turn. Another 30 seconds later the pancake is ready. Put the pancake on a plate, cover with a lid to keep it warm, add some butter into the pan and repeat until you run out of mixture.
Cut the strawberries in small pieces. In a heavy pan, bake the strawberries and the red currant for a couple of minutes with a teaspoon of (brown) sugar. That’s it!
Footnote – some people say you can bake huge quantities of pancakes and freeze them for later use. Sure, you can. But since the whole recipe takes about 15 minutes to make, why would you?