Making perfect pancakes is flipping easy

Ever wanted a taste of The Pancake House at home? James Haywood mixes together his top tips and expertise to give you a recipe for pancake success

Use oil to achieve a glossy finish
Use oil to achieve a glossy finish
Use oil to achieve a glossy finish
Use oil to achieve a glossy finish

Crack out the eggs, fill up the flour and squeeze those lemons – yes readers, it’s that time of year again where we celebrate Shrove Tuesday, affectionately known in the UK as Pancake Day.

Pancake Day is always the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of lent, which as you may know is when many give up a vice for 40 days until Easter. So why pancakes? Well, the story goes that it was a way of using up fatty foods, such as milk, eggs and sugar, before the fasting season of Lent.

But even if, like me, you don’t observe this ritual, Shrove Tuesday is just a good excuse to make some delicious pancake treats. The best thing is they can be eaten at any time of day – you’ll get no judgement from me if you have them for breakfast and dinner!

The Pancake House at Center Parcs is immensely popular and I’m always asked by guests to divulge my recipes and secret tips that make the pancakes so moreish and tasty. But here’s the biggest secret of all: pancakes are incredibly simple to get right.

Pancake House in your home
You don’t have to be an experienced chef to recreate the menu you’ve enjoyed at The Pancake House. Follow these tips to achieve pancake perfection:

• Season your mixture before cooking. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to forgo adding salt to your mixture. It’s so essential, even in a sweet pancake.

• Don’t use flour that’s too strong, otherwise the mixture becomes too dense and will be difficult to move around in the pan. Just use simple, plain flour.

• Use a hand-blender. I advise the Pancake House chefs do this regularly, especially with large portions of batter. Aerating the mixture like this will make it much lighter, which will allow the pancakes to become fluffier. If you’ve made your batter the night before and put it in the fridge, this is especially important so as to put some air back into it before cooking.

• Add oil to the pan before adding your batter. If you dry fry the pancake you’ll get a dull, matted effect, whereas with oil the batter will fry and that’s when you achieve an attractive gloss and shine. Vegetable and sunflower oil is fine; olive oil is too strong for a pancake.

• Always use a good, non-stick pan. Never use metal utensils on these pans to turn a pancake over, doing so will ruin the non-stick properties.

As for fillings and toppings, it’s really a matter of personal taste. But, as you’ll know from The Pancake House, most things work whether sweet or savoury. The thing about pancakes is, whatever you do it has to be quick – otherwise they’ll get cold. So make sure you have your toppings prepped and ready for action! Children love anything squirty and squeezy: lemon juice, syrup, Nutella and whipped cream.

If you have a break booked and want to taste the real deal, book your places at The Pancake House now

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James Haywood

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James Haywood

I’ve been working for Center Parcs since 2006 and, as Group Executive Chef, I am responsible for all restaurants on our Villages, from recipe development to quality control. Tuck in to my monthly posts to get a taste of my day-to-day life, as well as discovering recipes and tips.