People often think that pancakes are only designed for those with an abundance of time or an American sitcom family to feed, but you can have neither and still have pancakes when you want them.
I know that it is so easy to wake up and think ‘I can’t be arsed today, I’m just going to have a coffee’ but before you know it, you could be briskly whisking batter in a jug and realising that the whole thing happened before the kettle had finished boiling.
I once woke up and made these pancakes before I had even taken my eye mask off my head.
Take out of your mind that pancakes are a factory process where you will be stove side for a hundred years. I promise that you can get a batch of buttery, fluffy pancakes without the hoopla, and surprise yourself how a small batch of pancakes can pull you out of your morning ruts.
There’s something charmingly playful about these particular pancakes though, and I made them for the first time as I was approaching my 30th birthday in a last-minute attempt to clutch to the waning strands of my youth.
Custard, with its childish canary giggle of a gloop, has earned its rightful place either spooned on top of a crumble, or splattered over some cake, but smuggled into a batter makes these pancakes the Trojan Horse of breakfasts.
It’s the sneaky, extra silky, vanilla studded eggy-ness that makes the pancake both spongy and air-light at the same time, and that’s all I want in a pancake.
There is a case to be made for homemade custard wherever custard is needed but their kind is not wanted here.
Here, we welcome the canned convenience.
You can adorn your pancakes with whatever you please, 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.
Makes 20 small pancakes or 10 medium sized ones
175g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 x 200ml can custard
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
160ml full-fat milk
A few teaspoons unsalted butter (for frying)
- Tip the flour, bicarb, sugar and a pinch of salt into a big bowl and mix together with a fork, but I just as often use my fingers. Nature’s forks, they say.
- Open up the can of custard, and measure 175ml in a jug, and add the vanilla extract.
- Now add the milk, a small drip at a time, whisking in between each drop.
- Pour this milky custard mix into the flour and crack in the egg. Gently whisk everything together to create a thick batter. It’s better if you can chill the batter the fridge for a bit, I’d recommend an hour or so because cold batter against a hot pan always makes for much better pancakes. Leaving it overnight is even better, just give it a good whisk before you start frying. But don’t worry if you can’t – just carry on.
- Before you start cooking 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, very gently so it’s doesn’t do that spluttering PUT-PUT-PUT over your kitchen wall. Or just zap in the microwave when you’re ready, it’s only to pour on top of the pancakes at the end.
- For the pancakes, heat a little butter in your widest frying pan, and pour in about an espresso cups worth (about ¼ cup in American measures) of batter into the pan.
- SIDE NOTE – Let’s just get this out of the way – it’s a well-known fact that your first pancake will be shit. You need to get used to the temperature, the pouring consistency from the spoon or cup and how long you need to wait before you flip. If the first one sucks, eat it slyly when no one is looking, and then carry on.
- When you start to see little bubbles forming on the surface of the pancake (roughly 2 – 3 minutes) it’s time to flip. Do it with a steady and confident hand, but if the batter splatters in the pan a little bit, just push the batter back into the pancake with your spatula. It will fuse back with the batter and no one will 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, melting a new dab of butter to the pan for each batch. The bubbling butter pooling around the pancakes is what gives them the slightly crispy, raised edges.
- Serve with the warm custard, and appease your inner child.
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