Pancake Day UK: Spelt Pancakes with Creamed Spinach, Traditional Lemon and Sugar Pancakes

British Pancake Day is a tradition I've come to love after living in the UK for many years. This is the day, also known here as Shrove Tuesday, when you indulge before forty days of Lent. In America they have wild Mardi Gras style street parties, in Rio there's Carnival, and in Britain, well, they make pancakes. Everyone lets loose in their own way...

The traditional way to eat pancakes (note to Americans: when I say pancakes I mean the British version which resemble crepes; they are thin) is with lemon and sugar, but I have a savoury tooth and like to make a heartier version as well. This way you can have an entire pancake meal, which seems fitting for Pancake Day!

This year for the first course I whipped up spelt pancakes and topped them with warm, rich, melt-in-your-mouth delicious creamed spinach. Alex was initially very skeptical about the inclusion of a savoury round, but I've convinced him with this combination.

For dessert I made pancakes the traditional way, dusted with sugar and spritzed with lemon juice. These are sweet, zingy, and highly addictive. This is how Alex grew up eating them, and it's simply not Shrove Tuesday to him without them.

Wherever you live, I suggest you indulge in the spirit of Pancake Tuesday and whip up some of your own. They are good any day of the week. Here are some recipes for inspiration... 

For a creation as classic as the British pancake, I use the recipe and technique by another British classic; cookbook writer and kitchen-based TV presenter Delia Smith. This provides a good step by step how-to guide.

A few comments on the process... Making pancakes for the first time is a bit of an adventure (with a delicious conclusion). Sure, they won't all turn out round and they may get a bit crumpled, but hey the eating is still good! There's a commonly-held belief here that the first pancake of every batch will be rubbish, but that's probably because people only tend to make them once a year. Using a palette knife or spatula to flip pancakes is standard procedure, but have a go at tossing a pancake or two over in the air. Heed Alex's advice: "You just need confidence".

And finally, keep a plate in the oven set on a low temperature, and slide the pancakes on to that to keep them warm. Then eat them as soon as they hit the table so they are still have nice crispy edges.

Spelt Pancakes with Creamed Spinach

If you'd like to make spelt pancakes simply replace the white flour in the recipe with spelt flour, it works just as well and you can barley tell the difference. An easy way to make it a bit healthier! Note that when you sift the flour there will be some bran left in the sieve, just add that to the mix.

Creamed spinach is so good, it is tempting to just stand by the stove and eat it all straight out of the pot. The iron taste of healthy greens mingles dreamily with decadent cream sauce. The whole thing turns out thick and lush and you will need to step away from the pot.

This will provide enough creamed spinach for about 8 - 10 pancakes.

750g baby spinach (approx - if you buy bags just get amount closest this isn't exact science)
1 small onion
1 garlic clove
400ml heavy cream or combination heavy cream and full-fat milk
45g unsalted butter
3 tablespoons plain flour
Few gratings of nutmeg
Salt and pepper

Put a big pot over medium heat and put in a splash of water and the spinach. Stir until it's all wilted (you may need to do this in batches depending on pot size). Place the wilted spinach in a colander and while it's cooling down finely chop the onion and mince the garlic. Press the cooled spinach into the colander to squeeze out the excess water then roughly chop it.

Warm the cream/milk in a small pot and keep it warm over low heat. Use the big pot you wilted the spinach in to make the cream sauce. Cook the onion and garlic in the butter over low heat until soft, then add the flour and whisk for a couple of minutes. Slowly add in in the cream/milk, whisking constantly for a few minutes until you've achieved a smooth thick sauce. Stir in the spinach, and season as you like with grated nutmeg, salt and pepper. Eat warm — preferably wrapped in a delicate pancake!

Love your Leftovers: Pancakes freeze well, layer any that remain with parchment paper and seal up in big freezer bag. Reheat in a pan over low heat. Leftover creamed spinach is amazing in an omelet, stirred into penne or simply spread on toast.

1 comment:

  1. You can't beat traditional pancakes with sugar and lemon!


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