So my friends and I are turning 30 this year.
You have no idea how sick I felt writing that intro sentence. God damn it. Where has time gone and when did we stop being 19?
First of my friends to turn 30 is Bronwen. I always refer to her as the groups canary. You know in the coal mines when the miners would lower a canary and it’s cage down into the mines and hang it there to see if it collapsed due to toxic gas in the mines?
Bronwen is our canary.
We let her go first with birthdays, test the waters and then let us know just how bad it is.
We’re optimistic for our 30’s, but like the canary in it’s cage on the way down to the potential gas… you don’t know until you get there.
I know that’s morbid and gloomy and there is a celebration somewhere in this post, I promise.
(Happy birthday week Bronwen by the way, you’ll always be my favourite Moomin)
Despite my canary story and my initial reservation to aging, I’d like to think I accepted getting old with an open mind.
I lost my hair in my early twenties so was kind of always waiting for my age to catch up with my hairline.
My late night shenanigans more or less ended as soon as I got a full time/real job at 23 and I admitted to myself I could not write emails on a comedown.
My dog has pretty much made me feel like a stressed out parent for the past 3 years of my life and I’m no longer texting my mother and asking how to work the washing machine.
So I feel like I have the physical bits of adulting on lock.
But mentally, this year, I had to shift a few things.
Because while I have learnt to embrace getting old, it was a struggle to embrace not being young.
What scares me slightly about getting is older is that your age naturally comes at the sacrifice of your youth and how can you be comfortable with sacrificing something you’re sure of, for something you’re uncertain you’ll be happy with?
However, I’ve come to learn that the sacrifice comes with a gain of control.
Age has a promise to it. Age contains all the paths you’ve yet to walk, the lessons you’ve yet to learn, the people you’ve yet to meet and the moments you’ve yet to experience.
This year I started seeing my life and my decision making as a sum of three parts: learning from moments in the past, fully experiencing the magic of the now and allowing myself to be excited by the mystery of the future.
And because of how I compartmentalise these aspects of my life, the last year or so of my life have been my favourite.
By remembering the valuable lessons of my past I have made some decisions that I never thought I would.
By allowing myself to experience the magic of the now I’ve been able to focus on everything that actually matters in life and have conquered a lot of internal issues I face every day.
And from these two I have now opened myself up to whatever may come in the future.
There’s a saying that goes ‘Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards’ and never has this made more sense to me than now.
I cannot control what happens, but I feel I am developing a solid base of being able to handle whatever it is and be strong enough to learn from it when handling it gets difficult.
And if I can feel like this at 29, this makes me excited for how I could potentially feel at 30 and 39 and then 40 and then 49 because I hope to never stop learning about myself, the world and how I fit into it.
So before this post gets way too lofty, I want to inject a small amount of fun and juvenility (is that even a word?) into my life. Because life has to be celebrated, and even though I cannot relive my youth, I can recreate elements of it in my cooking.
And it starts with breakfast.
I am GROWN ASS MAN NOW and if I want custard and sprinkles on my breakfast that is exactly what I shall do. I told you, I make INFORMED decisions now.
I mean you can do what you want these pancakes, but I have a philosophy in cooking of ‘what goes in it, must go on it’ and there is custard in these here pancakes, so the rest is history.
Which brings me to the ACTUAL recipe itself. Don’t lip curl in disgust at Custard Pancakes, custard in itself is essentially just a dismantled pancake batter cooked in a different form… kind of… the essence is there, this is just taking it one step further.
And if not for you, your kids will love them.
These measurements make about 6 big, chunky pancakes but you could scale up and double if you wanted to cook for more people… or eat them all on your own in secret.
Throw 175g of plain flour into a big bowl followed by a sprinkle of salt and a heaped teaspoon of bicarb. Mix together with a fork.
Open up a can of premade custard and pour 175g into a jug (about half a can). To this, add 175ml of full fat milk a small drop at a time, whisking in between each drop. Go slowly here so that it gives the custard the time it needs to drink up the milk and not go gungy.
Add a little drizzle of vanilla extract and whisk it in,
Now pour this milky custard mix into the flour and crack in an egg. Whisk everything together to create a thick batter. I decant this then into a big jug (makes it easier to pour batter into a frying pan later) and chill in the fridge for about an hour or so.
Cold batter against a hot pan always makes for MUCH better pancakes.
FYI – you could totally make this the night before so that the batter is ready and waiting for you.
When you’re ready to cook the pancakes, on the back hob of your cooker, gently heat up the remaining custard from the can that you didn’t use. Leave it simmering gently while you make your pancakes.
Heat a small amount of butter in your biggest frying pan and pour in about two espresso cups worth of batter into the pan, leaving an inch or so in between each one.
It’s a bit of a boisterous batter so don’t go wishing for perfectly round pancakes – these will look homemade and taste all the better for it.
When you start to see little bubbles forming on the surface of the pancake it’s time to flip. Be careful but if the batter splatters a little bit, just push the batter back into the cake with your spatula. No one needs to know.
Cook on the other side for another minute or so before removing to a warm plate.
Repeat this process for the rest of the batter until you have about 6 pancakes.
Serve with the warm custard and if you’re appeasing your inner child like me, some Bubblegum Hundreds & Thousands.
Happy birthday all of my 90’s children. God bless us all.