My social feeds have been crowded with pancake photos and recipes… indulgent stacks of American breakfast pancakes, wafer thin lemon & sugar pancakes and everything in between. I spent Tuesday evening at my best friend’s house enjoying her brilliant pancake dish: thin pancakes wrapped and filled with spinach & ricotta, topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella and baked in the oven. It was absolutely delicious and made me wonder why we don’t eat more pancakes year round.
The week before Shrove Tuesday I was invited by Great British Chefs to join a class of bloggers and journalists at the Cordon Bleu school to learn how to master pancake-making techniques. Here’s what I learnt…
Tom Brown, Head Chef at Outlaw’s at The Capital (Nathan Outlaw’s London restaurant) led the class, illustrating how to make the perfect fluffy thick pancakes with seasonal stewed fruit. We gathered round as Tom carefully mixed the ingredients, sifting the flour to add air and lightness to the batter. He then left the mix to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes, which ensures there is no chewiness to the pancakes.
The chopped rhubarb and apple was cooked down slowly with ginger beer and sugar to create a delicious sweet compote. The pretty pink compote was dolloped onto the stack of pancakes and finished with a spoonful of Cornish clotted cream.
Next up was Le Cordon Bleu’s patisserie chef Jerome Pendaries, who did a demonstration of his Blackcurrant crepe souffle, a French classic. The process seemed rather more complicated and Jerome showed that pancakes can be elevated to a fine dining dessert.
The thin crepes were filled with airy purple souffle mix and cooked in the oven for a few minutes before we got the opportunity to delve in and try the magical dish. Needless to say these pancakes were exemplary, perfectly presented and absolutely delicious.
Learn more about Great British Chefs here.
The French favour a cool, skinny crèpe; in the States they serve them silver-dollar style; the Irish have theirs with potato; Scots make ‘em with oats; and Japanese okonomiyaki include cabbage – however you have yours, here is a round up the most tempting Shrove Tuesday specials London has to offer.
Bread Street Kitchen Head Chef Erion Karaj’s ricotta pancakes (£7) are a staple of his breakfast menu, served daily with fresh banana and sweet honeycomb butter. If you’ve ever had a flipping disaster or batter breakdown, follow Erion’s recipe for lighter-than-light pancakes.
It’s your last chance to indulge before Lent, so pep up your crêpe with chunks of fresh lobster, earthy mushrooms and creamy, smoked garlic bisque at The Botanist on Sloane Square. This super-indulgent pancake (£32) is to be savoured rather than scoffed and is available for lunch or dinner this Shrove Tuesday. If there’s room, follow it up with deliciously sweet marshmallow pancakes with hot chocolate sauce and coconut ice-cream (£7).
Head to Jackson + Rye for an adult-only version of their signature buttermilk pancakes made with a dash of wickedly good rye whiskey. The deliciously fluffy flippers cost £5.95 for a stack of three, served with a generous helping of rye-infused whipped cream. Top with sweet ‘n’ salty maple slab bacon (£3.50) to make it extra indulgent. Available on Pancake Day at all Jackson + Rye branches: Soho, Chiswick and Richmond.
In Canary Wharf, One Canada Square will serve hot ricotta pancakes with cooling rhubarb and custard ice-cream (£6.50) on Tuesday.
Saving the best till last, the Hélène Darroze sumptuous stack of pancakes is flavoured with an assortment of alluring ingredients. Served with lemon, thyme, maple syrup, creme fraiche, banana and peanut brittle they are the ultimate indulgence before Lent begins. See the recipe here to create Hélène’s recipe at home.
The Botanist is a lovely place to hang out for an after work drink or for lunch with friends but I never thought of this Sloane Square restaurant as a Breakfast venue. The sophisticated interior oozes Parisian charm, it is easy to understand why it’s a favourite with the King’s Road elite.
Arriving bleary eyed on a grey Wednesday morning, we were soon revived by the bright and friendly staff. I enjoyed sitting by the window, the ideal seats for keen voyeurs to inspect (and judge) the tottering fashionistas outside. Juice and coffees arrived promptly to the table. Fresh orange and strong caffeine was just what I needed and soon my brain perked up, ready to pick from the menu of morning delicacies.
Flaky, fresh and warm pain au chocolats provided a light and sweet first course. This was followed soon after by our main dishes… Sweetcorn fritters, roast vine tomato, smoked streaky bacon, baby spinach and avocado salsa (£12) for me and Blueberry buttermilk pancakes with smoked bacon and maple syrup (£11) for my hungry guest. Both were divine, homemade, straight off the stove. We argued about whose dish was better, the waiter agreed the fritters were victorious.
We sauntered off to join the sloanes, after our tasty express breakfast. The Botanist provides the perfect morning spot for friends, couples or business associates, you’ll be pushed to find a better start to the day in the area.
Served Monday-Friday: 8am – 11.30 am
Weekends: 9am – 11.30 am
More information here: www.thebotanistonsloanesquare.com