How to make American pancakes | Back to basics

 ,  |  Updated: May 22, 2014 17:57 IST

How to make American pancakes | Back to basics

Beginners needn't be afraid of Pancake Day with these foolproof, flip-free American pancake recipes.
What are you favourite toppings or pancake tips? Share your ideas below...

I'm not a big fan of Pancake Day. When I was little, those thin, crepe-style pancakes - served with a sprinkling of caster sugar and an antiseptic squirt of Jif lemon juice - were considered the height of continental sophistication. But I always preferred the thicker, American-style pancake.

The difference between the two is a raising agent. The British-style pancakes served on Shrove Tuesday don't use one, whereas the breakfast variety served in the US do - typically baking powder, or whipped egg white, or both.

The Scottish argue that it was they who introduced the risen pancake (known north of the border as drop scones) to the Americas. I first encountered them, aged 18, in New Mexico, where they were served to me by a six-foot tall, gravel-voiced Southern beauty in a San Antonio (not that one) diner. Everything about the experience was new and thrilling. The pancakes came accompanied by "whipped butter" and a mysterious "maple-style" syrup and "bottomless" coffee, which the waitress flung into my cup from a glass pot with a practised jolt of her shoulder.


I find these American-style pancakes almost unbearably exotic. Alongside their transatlantic glamour, they have another benefit for the nervous cook: there is no question of tossing them. Instead, these pancakes are definitely for turning. You don't need to feel you are wimping out by using a spatula.

We've given you two recipes to choose from for this Tuesday. One for banana pancakes, which use mashed-up banana to make them even more moist than usual, and one that uses buckwheat flour for those who are avoiding gluten or wheat flour.

Banana pancakes

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 5-10 minutes

Serves 6 (makes about 30 small pancakes)
25g butter (plus extra for frying)
200g flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 level tsp cinnamon
A pinch of salt
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
2 eggs
2 small ripe bananas
250ml milk
A few drops of vanilla essence
Maple syrup, for drizzling
Extra bananas, to serve

1 Melt the butter and put to one side (either in a microwave, a warm place or a small pan over a low heat).

2 Sieve the flour with the baking powder, cinnamon and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the brown sugar. Separate the eggs, putting the egg whites into a large clean bowl.

3 Mash the bananas with a fork until they become a soft pulp. Whisk in the egg yolks and slowly add milk until well combined. Then add the vanilla essence.

4 Gently fold the egg mix and the melted butter into the flour using a spatula until you have a thick, lumpy batter.

5 Whisk up the egg whites until stiff and fold in to the batter mix.

6 Heat a shallow nonstick frying pan with a little butter or oil. Turn the heat down and add the batter in tablespoons to make small pancakes about 5-8 cm in diameter (size does not matter). Leave for a minute or two until small bubbles appear on the surface, then flip them over and cook for another minute. They can be cooked in batches.

7 To serve, place a few pancakes on a plate with slices of banana and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Buckwheat pancakes

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves 4
3 eggs
125g buckwheat flour
1 tsp honey
A big pinch of baking powder
A pinch of salt
140ml organic milk

1 Separate the eggs and place the egg yolks in a large bowl, then add the buckwheat flour, honey, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Slowly add milk to make a smooth batter. You can do all of this the night before.

2 In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites to firm peaks and fold gently in to the other mix.

3 Heat a nonstick pan, gently drop in spoonfuls of the mixture, and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. Serve.

For showing off
Dressing pancakes is the perfect opportunity to release your inner Liberace. Be as extrovert and decadent as you dare - this is a once-a-year event. Some of our favourites are...

Caramelised apple and cream. Foam a blob of butter in a pan, toss in diced apples (one apple per person), add a little sugar and fry till brown. Take off the heat and stir in some double cream at the end.

Caramelised pineapple slices (or mango) can be added in the same way and served with toasted coconut.

• Blitz a Crunchie bar with some butter and honey. Shape into a log, wrap and store in the fridge. Cut off slices to top the pancakes.

Mars bar sauce and vanilla ice-cream. Melt a Mars bar in some double cream. Scoop ice‑cream on to the pancakes and pour the sauce on top.

Peanut butter and grilled bananas

Recipes by Jane Baxter

What are your favourite pancake toppings? Why not share them in the comments below?

Henry Dimbleby is co-founder of the natural fast-food restaurant chain Leon (@henry_leon). Get your kids cooking at

Photo: Skip the flip this pancake day and have yourself a heaping helping of these fuller, American-style pancakes. Photography: Jill Mead for the Guardian


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