There are many ways to ruin a pancake.
From tackling lumpy batter to having your creation stick to the pan, making the perfect pancake can feel like an arduous process. And that's before the flipping has begun.
But if you want to ensure your pancakes end up on people's plates rather than on the floor, here are five simple tips to make your Shrove Tuesday run smoothly.
For additional help and advice scroll down to watch The Independent’s own chef and food writer Mark Hix show you how he makes his own.
Tip one: Actually follow a recipe
It may seem simple, but a lot of people will be tempted to make their batter by filling a bowl with however much flour, eggs and milk they have left in the kitchen.
Don’t do this. For a simple basic batter recipe, there’s no better place to go than to Delia herself. Ms Smith recommends:
110g/4oz plain flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
200ml/7fl oz milk mixed with 75ml/3fl oz water
50g/2oz butter (for pan)
In pictures: Pancake recipe ideas
In pictures: Pancake recipe ideas
1/10 Classic pancake batter Option One - Mark Hix
Starting off with a basic, classic batter, The Independent's Mark Hix says all you need is to mix together 250ml milk, 120g flour, 1 large egg, 1tsp caster sugar (optional) and a pinch of salt. Fry for a minute on each side in a pre-heated pan, and use vegetable oil as a less fatty alternative to butter
2/10 Classic pancake batter Option Two - Shaun Alpine-Crabtree
From The Table Cafe, chef Shaun Alpine-Crabtree suggests you use four egg whites, whisked to a stiff peak, and folded into a mixed combination of the following: 200g plain organic flour, 4tsp baking powder, 1tsp bicarbonate of soda, 2tbsp golden caster sugar, 4 large eggs (the yolks), 580ml buttermilk, 2tsp vanilla extract (NOT essence), 1tsp orange flower/blossom water, 50g butter (melted). Use butter, in a hot pan, and flip when bubbles appear
3/10 Fruit and cream - The Friendly Toast, Cambridge and Portsmouth, Massachusetts, USA
The simple fruit and cream option pictured is from The Friendly Toast, Cambridge (MA, not UK). Head cook Jake Gardner also offers some more extravagant options, however - he suggests trying pumpkin pancakes with melted chocolate-covered raisins and whipped cream. He says the recipe calls for a mix of holiday spices – nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove – which help make the pancakes taste 'just like pumpkin pie'
4/10 Ham and cheese - The Breakfast Club (not pictured)
Ham and cheese is a staple of the savoury pancake world. If you feel more adventurous, The Breakfast Club (various London locations) offers a plate of pancakes layered with ham and cheese, and maple syrup and a fried egg on top. Executive chef Matthew Goussaert suggests 'using buttermilk to stabilise the flavour of a pancake', and chilling the mix for 30mins before cooking
5/10 Maple syrup and bacon - The Greedy Pig, Leeds
The Greedy Pig in Leeds keeps it simple; Scottish-style pancakes with Nutella or bacon and maple syrup on top
6/10 Blueberries and vanilla cream - The Blues Kitchen, Camden (not pictured)
The Blues Kitchen pancakes are buttermilk with either blueberries and vanilla cream, or with maple and bacon. Bernie Rogers, head chef, says they can serve about 600 pancakes every weekend, and that they go through about 50 litres of batter.
7/10 All Day Breakfast Pancakes - The Table, Southwark
Founder Shaun Alpine-Crabtree says when making pancakes, it's important to buy a high-quality, Canadian maple syrup for its distinctive taste. "Once you've tasted it you really have an expectation, it really complements pancakes and bacon. It's worth buying a really great grade of Canadian syrup."
Instagram/The Table Cafe
8/10 Berries and cream stacked pancakes - The Table, Southwark
Another offering from The Table, vanilla yogurt with mixed berries. In contrast to Mark Hix, Alpine-Crabtree also says to always use butter when frying the pancakes, never oil or spray. "If you're going to have a pancake, there's no point in going half-way. You don't do diet pancakes. Why would you do that? Life is far too short"
Instagram/The Table Cafe
9/10 Pulled pork, jalapeños & sour cream pancakes - The Riding House, London
The Riding House Café serves up a variety of pancakes, including 'ranch pancakes' with pulled pork, jalapeños, and sour cream. Executive chef Toby Stuart says that in the days leading up to Shrove Tuesday, they will also be offering a classic English crêpe with lemon juice and sugar: "We will have riots if we don't have that one."
Twitter/The Riding House
10/10 Bacon strip pancakes - Aunt Jemima
This extraordinary offering ran in a magazine ad in 1962. While not as elegant as some of the other suggestions here, it gets serious points for simplicity and bacon content. "Just about the best breakfast that ever greeted a hungry family!" - ran the ad. We couldn't agree more
Quaker Oats Company
Tip Two: Use the right pan
A good pan will do most of the work for you, preventing the pancakes from sticking while maintaining a consistent level of heat.
If you are tempted to buy a cheap, thin non-stick pan for purpose then be prepared for it to be just that – they tend not to last (usefully) from one year to the next.
A good solid pan with a rounded join between the rim and base is probably best – and read the advice from the food writer and critic Xanthe Clay here on how to “season” it so it never needs washing up again.
Tip three: Don’t use too much butter
Basic, unsalted butter is the best thing to use when lubricating your pan – but bear in mind that it will quickly brown in the heat if you use too much. Try brushing a thin layer on quickly with kitchen paper – you could use a pastry brush with bristles, but it will take a battering (pun intended – don’t actually batter the brush itself).
Tip four: Embrace flipping failure
You will drop a pancake. At least one, probably more. But once you get into the swing of things flipping the things is infinitely quicker, more likely to produce good pancakes and makes you look fantastic.
If necessary, try to get any guests or family members to be elsewhere when you do the first few, and clean the floor thoroughly beforehand.
Tip five: Put your faith in science
If you’re one of those people who would prefer to have everything meticulously planned out than rely on trial and error, allow science to do the work for you.
University College London Professor of Mathematics Frank Smith has devised a formula works out the perfect mechanics for a flawless flip, based on how high you plan to flip the pancakes and how large they are going to be. It is:
L = 4×H /π– D / 2
(L = hand distance from inner edge of the pancake / H = height of flip / D = diameter of pancake)
Practically speaking, this should tell you how far down the handle to hold the pan in order to get the perfect flip. Professor Smith told the Telegraph: “We’ve discovered that the wrong direction or speed, for instance, will mean that the average flipper may ruin two or even more pancakes trying to perfect their technique.
“We aim to reduce this waste by advising Brits how to achieve the perfect flip.”
For further advice and a word or two on variants and toppings, watch expert Mark Hix in action (above).text