Fruity: Temperley pancakes are filled with ice-cream and topped with morello cherries
Fruity: Temperley pancakes are filled with ice-cream and topped with morello cherries

Mark Hix's best pancake recipes

Don't just resort to the usual lemon-and-sugar crêpe this year

Mark Hi
Tuesday 17 February 2015 01:00

How many people know Shrove Tuesday even exists I wonder? I suspect most people simply think of this coming Tuesday as Pancake Day.

In fact, Shrove Tuesday is one of the great feasts of the year, the last day before Lent and all that asceticism.

Which is why you should make the most of it; eschew the boring lemon and sugar crêpe toppings most of us rub along with, and get a little creative.

Basic pancake batter

Makes 8-10 pancakes

This batter can be transformed into all sorts of sweet and savoury delights.

Savoury pancakes can be extremely enjoyable – fillings can vary from simple chicken and ham in a cheese sauce, to things like creamed wild mushrooms and herbs. Alternatively, go for the classic sweet options, such as crêpe Suzette.

250ml milk
120g flour
1 small egg
1tsp caster sugar or salt
A pinch of salt
Vegetable oil for frying

Whisk all the ingredients together with one third of the milk until smooth. Then whisk in the remaining milk and strain, if necessary.

Heat a non-stick frying pan, rub with a little vegetable oil, then pour in a little pancake mix, and immediately tilt the pan so that the mixture spreads evenly. Turn after 1 minute with a spatula or palette knife.

If you need to make a large quantity of pancakes, make them in advance and stack them up between squares of greaseproof paper. When you're ready to serve them, re-heat in the oven for a minute or so.

Batter keeps in the fridge for up to two days; just re-whisk it before using.

Temperley pancakes

Serves 4

In the restaurant, we make the ice-cream with Julian Temperley's Kingston Black or cider brandy. That said, making ice-cream from scratch can be a bit of a faff, so you may wish to opt for good-quality stuff from the shops.

If you can't find Julian's morello cherries in apple eau de vie, you could use cherries in kirsch, or else buy tinned cherries and add the alcohol.

1 quantity of sweet pancake batter
4 large scoops of good-quality vanilla or cherry ice-cream
20 or so cherries in Somerset eau de vie with about 100ml of the liquor
1tbsp granulated sugar
1tsp arrowroot

Make the pancakes as above and stack them on a plate.

Meanwhile, put the cherry eau de vie liquor in a saucepan with 100ml of water and the sugar, bring to a simmer, dilute the arrowroot with a little water and stir enough into the simmering liquid until it slightly thickens it, then continue to simmer for a minute; leave to cool a little and stir in the cherries.

To serve, warm the pancakes, then place a large scoop of ice-cream at one end, fold them in half, then half again to form a triangle. Serve with the sauce poured over the pancake.

Crespelle with chicken and tarragon

Serves 4

This is as great as a starter as it is a main course. Plus, the kids are guaranteed to love them.

1 quantity of the pancake mixture, without the sugar but using salt instead (or use half if serving only as a starter)
4-6 medium free-range chicken thighs, skinned, boned and quartered
500ml chicken stock
1 small onion, peeled, halved and finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
30g butter
25g plain flour
2tbsp double cream
1tbsp chopped tarragon

Crespelle with chicken and tarragon is great as a starter (Jason Lowe)

Put the chicken thighs in a saucepan with the stock and onion, season, bring to the boil; then simmer very gently for 1 hour, skimming every so often.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan, stir in the flour and stir on the heat for 30 seconds. Whisk the flour mixture into the stock and continue simmering gently for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce thickens; then stir in the cream and tarragon and re-season if necessary.

To serve, spoon the chicken meat down the middle of the pancakes, then roll them up, place on warmed serving plates and spoon the remaining sauce over. Alternatively, you can spoon the sauce on to the plates and place the pancakes on top.

Pancake rolls

Serves 4

I've always wondered, from childhood, why some people call these spring rolls and others call them pancake rolls. A source tells me that apparently pancake rolls are a thicker pastry but, as I can't seem to find the truth of the matter, I am going to call these creations pancake rolls.

Spring roll wrappers are pretty easy to find these days, especially in Asian supermarkets. I always keep a packet of them in the freezer for emergencies.

You can make them whatever size you wish – mini ones for cocktail parties and larger ones as a starter. Feel free to vary the filling, too. I am quite fond of using crab in them.

16 small spring roll wrappers
1 egg, beaten
Vegetable or corn oil for deep frying

For the filling

6 spring onions, shredded on the angle
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 small piece of root ginger, peeled, finely grated
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely shredded
4 or 5 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stalk removed and thinly sliced
1tbsp chopped coriander
A few leaves of pak choi, shredded
1 chicken thigh cooked and shredded, or 4-5 cooked prawns, chopped
½tbsp sesame oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mark is fond of using crab in his pancake rolls (Jason Lowe)

Heat the sesame oil in a large frying pan and quickly fry all of the ingredients for a minute, stirring every so often, then season and transfer to a plate and leave to cool.

Separate the spring roll wrappers; lay on a flat surface.

Place about a tablespoon of the filling in the centre of the end that is closest to you. Fold the two ends towards > the centre, then brush with the beaten egg, roll up as tightly as possible and transfer to a tray.

They will keep in the fridge for a few hours but not much longer as they tend to go soggy.

Preheat about 8cm of oil to 160-180C in a large, thick-bottomed saucepan or electric deep-fat fryer and fry the spring rolls for 2-3 minutes, turning them with a slotted spoon and draining on some kitchen paper.

Serve with sweet chilli dipping sauce or similar.

Field mushroom pancakes

Serves 4

At this time of year, cultivated field mushrooms are the best bet for this. Or, when in season, you can use your favourite wild mushrooms.

1 measure of savoury pancake batter
6-8 medium-sized field mushrooms, thinly sliced
2-3tbsp olive oil
60g butter
4tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs, lightly toasted
2tbsp grated Parmesan

For the base

1 small onion, peeled, halved and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
120g button mushrooms, finely chopped
2tbsp olive oil

Go wild: Mark's field mushroom pancakes (Jason Lowe)

First make the base: heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan and gently cook the onion, garlic and mushrooms with a lid on for 4-5 minutes, seasoning and stirring as they are cooking. Remove from the heat, and put to one side.

Make the pancakes as above, or a bit thicker if you wish, and stack on a plate.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the field mushrooms for a couple of minutes.

Now season them, add two-thirds of the butter and cook for a couple more minutes, turning as they are cooking. Next, add half the parsley and remove from the heat.

Melt the rest of the butter in a pan and mix with the breadcrumbs, the rest of the parsley and the Parmesan.

To serve, reheat the pancakes, spoon and spread on the mushroom base, and then scatter over the mushrooms and finally the breadcrumb mix.

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