Thick or thin, sweet or savoury, buttermilk or eggy, I do love a good pancake. Through the years my mental encyclopaedia of pancakes has expanded considerably. Thin pancakes were unheard of in our household. I grew up on thick batter, made by my dad from whole milk and eggs – so rich that I could only ever eat one. The rest were saved for breakfast, or lunch, or dinner the next day. My grandma would make a Polish variant that I couldn’t get enough of, made with onions and potatoes, a little bit like a rosti. It’s crazy to think that I didn’t try my first lemon and sugar topped crepe until I was at university!
One of my favourite things about the humble pancake is that you can experiment wildly with toppings. Not so humble when you think about it really (blinis with sour cream and caviar?). I can think of so many amazing flavour combinations that are making my mouth water as I type. You can let your creativity go nuts, literally.
Even though I don’t make pancakes on a regular basis at home (something that must be remedied after we move house and have a decent kitchen and cookbooks out of the attic), I make an effort to eat pancakes every Shrove Tuesday. I’m not religious and don’t fast for Lent, but it’s a great excuse for a convivial pancake-fest! One day I’d love to have a pancake party with a group of friends, with platters of pancakes piled high and all the toppings imaginable spread out in front of us at a big table. Doesn’t it sound like fun?
Here are a few of my favourite, tried and tested, sweet and savoury flavour combinations. Sometimes a little bit of effort is worth it – so go ahead, it’s Pancake Day, no excuses!
Banana and chocolate hazelnut spread
This classic combination is fail safe and never fails to delight children and adults alike. The last time I made these I used my own homemade sunflower seed and hazelnut cocoa spread which was a slightly healthier but equally delicious version (keep an eye out for the recipe, coming soon!). Whether you stack them neatly or roll them up into one big chocolatey mess, enjoy!
Crepe with mango coulis and vanilla ice cream
The combination of tropical fruits and vanilla cream will always remind me of Solero ice creams. Pancakes and vanilla ice cream go so well together. The mango coulis (or puree, if you will) adds a deliciously sweet tang to an otherwise dairy-heavy dish. And it looks, tastes and smells like summer on a plate, perfect for those of you who are sick of the winter now! Here’s one indulgent Scandi-style take, or a healthier version made with coconut.
Poppyseed, ricotta and orange blossom honey
I love introducing seeds into otherwise plain dough and batter. Pancakes are no exception. Adding a sprinkling of seeds will add texture and little pops of flavour. Take a look at this recipe for some inspiration. I like to serve these with whipped ricotta and orange blossom honey. Add some orange zest for an extra flavour boost.
Prosciutto and fig with balsamic drizzle
You can do all sorts of amazing things with savoury pancakes, like mock pizzas. I like to go with a fresher and more paired back topping that rolls up easily. Prosciutto and fig is one of my go-to savoury pancake toppings, especially with a little balsamic reduction drizzled over the top to cut through the fattiness of cured meat and pancake. Delicious and very simple to make and arrange, perfect if you want impact but are short of time. Or you could go full hog and try these prosciutto, fig and brown sugar pancakes that I stumbled upon recently.
Sauteed mushrooms, spinach and cheese
One of my all-time favourite foods is a simple mushroom and cheese omelette. For me it cures all ills (including major hangovers!). Add spinach to the mix and swap the omlette for a crepe or other thin pancake and you have the ultimate (not to mention filling) comfort food. Try this simple recipe, or go deluxe with this baked version from Raymond Blanc.
Potato pancakes with plum butter
Bear with me on this one! I know it might sound odd, but a savoury potato pancake spread with a thick sweet and sour plum butter is probably my favourite pancake combination of all time. My grandma would often make these for me at lunchtime. She would start by juicing the potatoes, then add chopped onions and eggs to the uncooked grated potatoes to make the batter. It always seems quite labour-intensive (not least because her juicer was a massive and clunky machine), but so worth it! We’d always have leftovers for dinner and I think they taste even better cold. I’ve found a Jamie Oliver recipe for potato pancakes and this is a great run-through of making plum butter. Or you could just buy it – most Polish supermarkets (or Polish aisles in supermarkets) will stock it. Try it, you won’t be disappointed!
Thick or thin? Sweet or savoury? What are your favourite pancake types and pancake toppings? I’d love to know, share them below.