Pancakes became something of a tradition in my household when Small Boy started school; our lazy days of laconic love-ins giving way to 6am alarm calls, nervous breakdowns in the morning about where the bloody hell the latest school jumper could possibly be, finding every left shoe in the house and not a single right one. Weekend breakfasts became a snapshot of togetherness, long lazy breakfasts rolling into lunches, often eaten in bed, with newspapers for me and a comic book for him. Saturdays are pancake days, and no two weeks are the same – and this is one of our favourites.
Serves 4 at 17p each
270g plain or self raising flour, 12p (65p/1.5kg, Basics flour)
4 tbsp sugar (80p/1kg, Fairtrade white sugar)
2 tsp baking powder,4p (90p/160g)
4 tbsp apple sauce,20p (60p/jar)
A pinch of salt, <1p (45p/750g basics table salt)
½ tsp cinnamon or mixed spice (80p/100g, KTC or Natco brand)
2 tbsp oil, 3p (£3/3l sunflower or vegetable oil)
260ml soya milk or equivalent, 23p (almond, coconut and oat milk all work well here too)
½ tsp lemon juice, fresh or bottled, 2p (60p/250ml)
First make your pancake batter. Grab a large mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and give it all a stir to thoroughly combine the ingredients.
In a small mug or jug, combine the milk, lemon juice and applesauce, similarly to how you would make a white sauce. Add the applesauce first, then loosen with a splash of milk, stirring well. Add another splash, and repeat, until the two are well combined.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, and tip the applesauce-milk into it. Mix well to make a loose batter, and pop it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to thicken and chill. (This is usually the part where we decamp to the corner shop for juice and the morning paper, but feel free to fill this interval however you wish.)
Take a frying pan and heat a little oil in the bottom of it. You don’t want too much or your pancakes err on the side of greasy rather than crisp and gently fluffy. Warm the pan and the oil through, then drop a tablespoon of batter into it. Allow it to settle, then join it with another one, enough of a distance apart to allow it to spread. Repeat until your pan is mostly full, with enough room for manoeuvring them around a little.
Starting with the first pancake, gently turn it over. This can get kind of messy, so have hour turner on hand to swiftly reshape any stray batter that makes a bid for freedom as you turn it over. If this step makes you nervous, you can part-cook the pancakes on top by covering the pan with a lid (it doesn’t have to be a lid that matches the pan, as long is it is the same size or larger to trap the warm steamy air beneath it), or failing that, a large sturdy dinner plate wrapped in tin foil will do the same job. This makes the top of the pancake slightly more solid, ideal for novice or nervous cooks.
However you end up doing it, turn all of your little pancakes over and cook them for a further 2 minutes on each side, before transferring them to your warm oven. This may seem a little louche, but in a household with appetites my size, is the only way of fairly ensuring that everyone gets hot pancakes at roughly the same time – and besides, they rise a little more if you leave them in the oven, which can only be a good thing.
Repeat until all of your pancake batter is used up, and then call everyone for breakfast, or if you are a terribly slovenly parent like I am, carry the lot upstairs and gracelessly deposit them at the foot of the bed with a pile of forks, because Saturday is washing day for bedlinen anyway, and what are a few crumbs compared to the squeals of delight at being able to eat hot buttered pancakes with your fingers, curled beneath a pile of blankets to start your weekend.
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