With Shrove Tuesday coming up, my mind has turned to pancakes and toppings. When I was growing up we rarely had pancakes but we often had drop scones for breakfast. If we were really lucky our minder would make them and have them on the table at 3pm when we came in from school. We ate them with butter and jam.
For the non-Irish among you, drop scones are like those fat American pancakes but smaller. Basically you make a pancake batter with a lot less milk and a small amount of sugar. My mother, and our minder too I suspect, threw them together and they always worked out perfectly. By the time I was ten or so, my sister and I could make them too. No measurements, just a fair idea of the flour, sugar egg, milk ratio.
Last week I made a batch for after school, like our old minder used to do. In the old days, as my sons say. But I suppose 30 years ago is the old days to them. Our neighbours called in and were very impressed with the huge pile of light, fluffy pancakes they were met with.
When I went to make a batch for breakfast the other morning I decided to take out my scales and weigh as I went along so that I could give them the recipe. I might as well share the recipe with you too here.
350g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonte of soda
approx. 350ml buttermilk
A pinch of salt
(If you are using milk instead of buttermilk, substitute the bicarbonate of soda for baking powder).
Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer. You can of course whisk by hand if you prefer, in which case you should combine the dry ingredients and make a well in the centre. Add the eggs and milk to the well and whisk, taking the dry ingredients gradually inthe the liquid. This helps avoid lumps in the batter. Keep going until you have a thick, smooth batter.
Set your pan over a medium heat (I set my hob to 6, it goes up to 9) and add a small splash of oil or a knob of butter and heat it. Add spoonfuls of the batter to the pan, placing the pancakes far enough apart that they do not touch. Leave to fry on one side until bubbles appear and begin to burst on the upper side.
Then turn the pancakes and fry for a moment so that both sides are browned and the pancake has risen. Remove from the pan to an ovenproof dish and keep warm in a low oven. Fry the remaining pancakes and serve warm with whatever topping you like. We generally have butter, jam, chocolate spread and maple syrup on the table and we all have our own favourites. My current favourite is Greek yogurt and berries.