When I was a kid, these simple crepes served with lemon and sugar were the only pancakes I knew until, when I was about ten, we hosted a Canadian exchange student who introduced our family to the joys of real maple syrup and the American-style pancakes, or ‘flap jacks’, as we called them back then. When I make the American-style pancakes for my son and friends, I always use my friend Alice’s recipe for buttermilk pancakes but, as much as I love thick pancakes with lashings of maple syrup, I often prefer these old fashioned pancakes with lemon and sugar, particularly in the summer, because they are lighter and, served with a fruit platter, they make the perfect summer time breakfast.
When my son has friends over for a sleep over, some kind of pancake breakfast is mandatory and I always ask if they want fat or thin pancakes for breakfast. More often than not, they will request these thin pancakes with lemon and sugar, which are nostalgic favourite of mine. The added bonus with these pancakes is that I can make the batter the night before, so there’s no messing around the next morning measuring flour and breaking eggs and I can sleep in until the last possible moment when the kids are too starving to ignore.
This basic crepe recipe is a master recipe and can be used for sweet or savoury crepe dishes. I never add sugar to the pancake batter, preferring to sprinkle the sugar on the cooked pancake, then squeeze over the lemon juice. I love that moment when the lemon juice soaks through the sugar in rivulets, creating a magical moment of food alchemy that takes me back to the pancake feasts of my childhood.
A friend of mine also used to make crepes using buckwheat flour and they were really delicious. If you are gluten intolerant, it would be well worth experimenting with different flours because this batter seems to work particularly well with gluten free flour.
Adapted from Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion.
- 250 grams plain white flour
- 60 grams butter
- Pinch of salt
- 1½ cups milk
- 3 eggs
- Place milk butter and salt in saucepan and heat milk until butter is just melted, take milk off heat and let cool a little.
- Pour flour into bowl, create a well and mix in eggs with some of the flour. Gradually pour in milk and butter mixture, whisking as you go to create a smooth batter.
- Let batter sit for at least two hours, or overnight. When you want to cook your pancakes, check the batter and add more milk if it has become too thick. The batter should be the consistency of pouring cream.
- Heat a crepe pan over a medium heat. Even if you are using a proper crepe pan, you will probably need to grease your pan for the first couple of pancakes. Pour a ladle full of batter into the heated pan and tilt the pan around so the batter covers all the surface of the pan. Cook until lightly golden on one side, then flip the pancake over and cook until lightly spotted and golden on the other side. Slide onto a plate and continue to cook your other pancakes.
- The first pancake you cook is usually a right off – there is a knack to getting the right amount of batter into the pan that comes with practice. I have a long, wide and thin stainless steel flipper that I use to make pancakes and it is brilliant for flipping pancakes. I’ve never perfected the art of throwing the pancakes in the air and flipping them over, though I wish I had, because it looks totally cool.