Ask Peter: Pancakes
My kids have taken to asking for pancakes for breakfast at the weekends but I lack the motivation to make them most of the time. Is there a recipe you can give me for an overnight pancake batter? One that I can make up the night before ready to spoon into the pan the next morning? I tested my usual batter (it involves whisked egg whites for fluffiness) but it separated after a few hours in the fridge. Hayley
Compared to the ones I usually make, your pancakes sound very flash, with the egg whites whipped into them! The recipe I use is one based on the travellers’ pancakes (as I called them) that I ate when travelling through Asia in the 1980s.
Depending on which country or region I was in, and the prosperity of that region, they would sometimes contain egg, but often not. They might have coconut milk in them, or perhaps milk, and several times just water. The flour could be rice flour or wheat, and they’d be fried in ghee, butter or peanut oil. They’d usually have fruit scattered on top and then cooked into them — banana in Bali and Thailand, and apples in Nepal.
In the more tropical areas they’d top them with grated dark brown palm sugar, fresh grated coconut and thick coconut cream. In Mustang, Nepal, where they grow apples and where the pancakes had no doubt been made popular by hippie travellers like myself, they were simply served drizzled with local honey.
Those pancakes were made something like this, which is the recipe I use to this day.
Traveller's pancake recipe
- Put 2 large eggs into a food processor with 1-2 tablespoons sugar (any sugar you like). Blitz for 15 seconds.
- Sieve 150g flour with 2 tsp baking powder and a little salt. Add this and pulse blitz, scraping down if needed.
- Add 250ml (1 cup) milk or coconut milk with the motor running, scraping down the sides as needed. Leave the mixture to rest for at least 30 minutes (or overnight in the fridge which will serve you and the children well).
- Next day, give the batter a good whisk. If it has thickened, thin it out by whisking in some milk or water.
- Place your pan, ideally a non-stick one, over medium heat and add a knob of butter or ½ tsp oil and then pour the batter to the thickness you’d like and cook as per usual.
- Travellers’ pancakes were always around 5mm thick and as soon as the batter had been poured into the pan thin slices of fruit were laid on top so they’d sink into the batter.
- Once it had firmed up, the pancake would be carefully flipped over and be cooked for another minute or so which would caramelise the fruit.
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Try these variations
- Add a few drops pandan extract (green, and almost vanilla-flavoured) into the batter and scatter the pancake with sliced bananas and desiccated coconut — ideally long thread or chips.
- Replace ⅓ of the flour with buckwheat flour, serve with crisp bacon lardons and drizzle with maple syrup.
- Mix diced leftover roast kumara or potatoes, thinly sliced spring onions and some chopped green chilli into the mixture and serve topped with a rocket and tomato salad.
- Make the pancake mixture a little runnier by adding extra liquid, then cook rather like a crepe, and top with diced avocado and tomatoes, feta chunks and snipped chives. Roll up and drizzle with lime juice and olive oil.
- Make a lot of smaller ones, like pikelets, and stack with a dollop of mascarpone in between, then drizzle with a salted caramel sauce or berry compote.
In our Ask Peter series, executive chef Peter Gordon answers your curly culinary questions. If you're stumped over something food-related, send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and keep checking in for answers. You can read more on Peter on his website, have a read of his Ask Peter articles or check out his recipes here.