Pancake Day is one of the most underrated British holidays, partly because, being Shrove Tuesday, it always falls on a Tuesday and partly because of its sheer simplicity. There are no fancy recipes or showstopping centerpieces on Pancake Day, just good old fashioned, simple pancakes. And it is the simplicity of these tasty treats that make them ideal for little ones to practice their cooking skills – with some supervision, of course.
The reason that pancakes are so simple is that they were originally made in order to use up the store cupboard ingredients that people wouldn’t be using during their lent fasting. Now, of course, they’re much more of a treat, and are often far more exciting than the basic flour, milk and eggs recipe. Pancakes are ideal for children to cook because they allow for plenty of creativity and imagination; kids can come up with their own flavour combinations and think up their own toppings. They’ll be master chefs before they know it!
First thing’s first – you and your little ones need to get to grips with a basic pancake recipe. If you’ve never made pancakes before or need a refresher course, a complete guide to making pancakes will provide everything you need to know. All you really need in terms of kitchen equipment is a large mixing bowl, a whisk, a spatula, a frying pan, some scales, a measuring jug and some spoons. You can use an electric whisk or blender if you like, but you don’t really need to.
Your basic ingredients for traditional flat pancakes are flour, milk and eggs, as well as some vegetable or olive oil for frying. These are things that most of us have in our cupboards anyway, which is quite possibly one of the reasons that pancakes are so popular. If you want to make vegan pancakes, you’ll need a few more ingredients and a little more time, but your little ones should still be able to lend you a helping hand.
You can’t beat a classic pancake topping, whether it’s lemon and sugar, chocolate spread or golden syrup. These are the staple recipes that many of us swear by, so they’re a great way to introduce kids to pancakes. However, don’t expect them to stick to the rules for long, as before you know it they’ll be experimenting with different combinations and your classic toppings will be replaced with something decidedly less traditional.
American pancakes might be a little less traditional, but they have certainly become an absolute favourite in recent years. They are Miss A’s breakfast of choice each time we go to Walt Disney World. Just as simple to make as flat pancakes, they have an irresistible fluffy texture and can feel like a real treat. Use self-raising flour as well as baking powder to achieve an impressive rise, and add a touch of sweetness by replacing milk with buttermilk. Fruit can be added to the mixture for an extra touch of luxury; good choices are blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or bananas. The fruit adds moisture to the thick batter and is a healthy alternative to chocolate chips or marshmallows.
For an extra special occasion, try making dessert style pancakes. They’re just as easy to make and kids will absolutely love them. For birthday pancakes, add hundreds and thousands to your pancake batter, pile them up tall and drizzle with icing. Don’t forget the birthday candles! If red velvet is your kids’ favourite, simply add red food colouring to your batter, then top with cream cheese frosting and some chocolate treats. For the ultimate chocolate pancakes, add cocoa powder and chocolate chips to the batter, then top with chocolate sauce. You can also get creative by turning your favourite desserts into pancake toppings.
If you’re having pancakes for dinner, you’re probably going to want something savoury before you start on the sweet. Luckily there are plenty of delicious savoury pancake recipes you can make, all of which are super easy and fun for kids. For a breakfast style pancake, fill with eggs and bacon, or for a vegetarian version choose avocado and feta. You can also fill with roasted vegetables and cheese, or make a pizza pancake with hot passata and toppings of your choice!
Disclosure – this is a collaborative post