Batter ladled with care into the sizzling pan and swirled with a deft hand into a perfect full moon. The hold your breath moment as the pancake is flipped, praying it makes a clean landing back in the pan as it arcs gracefully through the air. That’s the easy part. Now for the hard work: deciding what to put on your pancake.
In search of something other than lemon and sugar, we turned to the Roux chefs and the Cactus Kitchens team for tips on how to up our pancake game.
Executive Roux Chef Toby Stuart likes to go all out and make Gâteau de Crêpes. It takes a little more time to execute than your regular lemon and sugar combo but it’s worth the effort. In France, it’s known as Mille Crêpe. Mille referring to the thousand layers used to make up the cake but we've had it on good authority that a mere twenty will do.
Many recipes call for the pancakes to be layered between dollops of Chantilly cream but Toby likes to layer his with chocolate ganache and heap with Chantilly cream and brandy soaked cherries in a nod to Black Forest gâteau.
Executive Chef at The Langham, Chris King likes his pancakes in the shape of Mickey Mouse (no word on whether that makes them taste better). His favourite accompaniment is blueberry and vanilla compote, but with fresh blueberries out of season in February, use frozen instead and defrost before using.
If you’re looking for something a bit more seasonal, swap the blueberries for rhubarb and cook up a delicious vanilla and rhubarb compote that complements pancakes perfectly.
Head Chef at Roux at Parliament Square, Steve Groves was alone in picking an American-style pancake. American pancakes use a raising agent and more flour to create a thicker, spongier pancake which Steve likes to pile high and serve with good quality salted butter and maple syrup.
Cactus Kitchens tutor Millie Simpson also favours the American pancake and maple syrup combo but adds blueberries to the pancake batter for some extra sweetness.
Executive Roux chef Didier Quémener enjoys a Shrove Tuesday treat that's not for the fainthearted. He likes to layer his pancakes with guacamole, poached quail eggs, wild Alaskan Sockeye salmon egg roe, diced jalapeños and finally a drizzle of pure maple syrup. Try if you dare.
Head of Happiness Kate also takes the savoury option and makes galettes. Galettes are typically associated with Brittany where they are often eaten instead of bread. Hearty and robust, they are usually made with buckwheat flour and typically filled with ham, cheese and occasionally fish.
Kate likes her galette with the leftover cheese in her fridge which if she's lucky includes a good quality blue and some grated Comté. She tops it off with ham and an egg (in France, this is known as a galette complète - a complete galette).