(British) Pancake Recipe

Yesterday, I called my mother up for her pancake recipe, today being Fat Tuesday, and therefore Pancake Day. (For my friend in New Orleans, it is Mardi Gras, and I imagine her reclining on a throne of beads and silks, eating King Cake. I hope she will not tell me if this is wrong.)

So, I called my mother up for the family pancake recipe, and she reeled it off, and then noted that two of the recipe books we used for it have disappeared, including the Usborne Children’s Book of Cookery. This house does, actually, have a different Usborne Children’s Book of Cookery, but we’d amended the, extremely smeared and begrimed, pancake page of ours. Nonetheless, here is a recipe for pancakes, proportions provided by my mother off the top of her head (but from Delia Smith originally. I know this, because I called again to check, and my mother walked in halfway through and was indignant):


  • 4oz flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 pint of milk (we will be using semi-skimmed, I recall it working with full cream.)
  • Butter



  1. Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle.
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  3. Break eggs into the well. Beat with an electric mixer, or by hand if your arm is strong, and you have a while, until eggs and flour are completely mixed together.
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  5. Add milk, a little bit at a time. Mix thoroughly in between each addition. As the mixture gets more liquid, you can add milk in larger amounts.
  6. Allow batter to rest in the fridge for at least an hour. I did it overnight, because I am fully aware of the very small chances of me actually successfully making anything complicated in the early morning.
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  8. Take batter out of fridge. Heat frying pan. Melt butter in the frying pan. You want two tablespoons left once the frying pan is greased.
  9. Once butter has melted, swirl it around the pan until greased, then pour the remainder into the batter, and mix briskly. Try not to let it solidify into little lumps.
  10. Add batter to hot pan. This is deeply subjective. For my pancake pan, I use one ladleful, but I don’t know how big a) your pans or b) your ladles are.
  11. Cook until it is mostly solid, and has bubbles. Take a deep breath, and flip it. I would not suggest trying to do anything exciting, just use a fork.
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  13. Cringe at the way it falls. Remind yourself that first pancakes are always terrible misshapen messes, and Everyone Knows they taste better that way.
  14. Cook until brown on the underside (use a fork to check), then put on plate, garnish with your chosen toppings (mine are lemon and sugar) and scoff.
  15. Repeat until you are full, or the batter is gone. If you are me, you will probably master the technique just in time for the final pancake, which will then sit, beautifully, between everyone at the table while they clutch at their stomachs, and wonder whether explosion by pancake is a possibility, and whether it would be a happy death.


This batter can also be used to make toad in the hole. It just about fed two people, but I suspect my family of four of stealthily doubling.


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