The Perfect Pancake

The Perfect Pancake for Shrove Tuesday or should that be Sardines?

Want to make the perfect Pancake? I’ve been practising my pancakes looking for the perfect pancake recipe and the ultimate filling. It doesn’t take much to get me battering up and making pancakes and they are a useful thing to get to grips with if you are cooking for one or two because of course, you do make them to order. Savoury pancakes are delicious, the method and recipe is very easy so if you haven’t tried making your own, then now is a good opportunity.  One of the dishes I survived on through University,  pancakes are very frugal and you can make the batter up with a few basic ingredients you probably already have in the store cupboard and add whatever filling you happen to have to hand.  One egg,  and a small amount of milk and flour will make four pancakes to fill with something savoury or dessert for 2 people topped with something sweet!

Pancake Recipe – basic sweet and savoury

Serves 2
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 5 minutes
Total time 15 minutes
Meal type Dessert, Main Dish



  • 50g Plain Flour
  • 1 Medium Egg
  • 150ml Semi Skimmed Milk (more if necessary - if you have full fat milk use 1/3 water to 2/3 milk)
  • 1 pinch Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Sunflower Oil
  • 3-4 shots 1-cal oil


  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 2 teaspoons Caster Sugar


  • 30g Parma Ham
  • 50g Finely grated cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Low Fat Creme Fraiche


Step 1 Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl
Step 2 Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the egg and oil
Step 3 Use a fork to pull the flour into the egg mixture and make a sticky paste
Step 4 Gradually add in milk till you have a batter about the thickness of single cream. If you don't need all of it, don't worry.
Step 5 Cover the mixture and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. If you need to wait for longer before using it, put it in the fridge
Step 6 Spray a non stick pancake pan with lo-cal oil
Step 7 Heat over a medium heat then pour a ladle of batter into the centre of the pan. Tilt the pan so that you get a nice round shape, as thin as possible
Step 8 Cook over a medium heat until the pancake slides easily and is nicely golden if you lift one corner
Step 9 If you are feeling brave, toss the pancake. If not (and I've never managed) put a fish-slice under the pancake and turn it
Step 10 Cook until the both sides are golden and continue making pancakes till all the batter is gone
Step 11 To make simple savoury pancakes, chop the ham finely and fill pancakes with a mixture of ham, 30g of grated cheese and 1 tablespoon of creme fraiche. Place in a small baking dish
Step 12 Top the pancakes with the remaining creme fraiche and sprinkle the cheese over it
Step 13 perfect pancakes - savoury
Put the savoury pancakes in the oven at 160-170c and cook for 15 minutes until the top is golden brown
Step 14 perfect pancakes - lemon and sugar
To make the sweet pancakes up, while they are warm, sprinkle them with caster sugar and squeeze lemon juice over, before rolling up and enjoying!

Traditional sweet pancakes with lemon and sugar, take me back to my childhood when we always had pancakes or apple fritters after roast beef, because early on in her culinary career my mother realised the batter for pancakes was pretty much the same as a Yorkshire pudding one.  But these sweet but simple morsels are also the sort of pancakes eaten on Shrove Tuesday.

Perfect pancakes - lemon and sugar 2The tradition of making pancakes comes from a need to use up all the butter and eggs in the house the day before Lent.  Then, for 40 days and 40 nights, leading up to Easter, good Christian households would observe a period of frugal eating, remembering Christ’s time in the Wilderness.  Today, we are more likely to give up chocolate or wine than meat and eggs but, it’s the same principle.

While I was in the middle of practising my pancake tossing and checking out customs  for Shrove Tuesday, I came across  a rather peculiar tradition – ‘The burial of the Sardine’. In Spain, while we are practising making pancake batter, they are getting ready to dress in mourning clothes and follow a coffined sardine. On Shrove Tuesday the poor fish is eventually cremated on a large funeral pyre and there’s a great celebration and ummm…feast of sardines.  In some parts of Spain the ashes of the cremated sardine are scattered into the sea, in others it is buried.  But wherever the Entierro de la Sardine is celebrated, there is a party marking the start of Lent.  It makes pancake races seem quite mundane doesn’t it!  But links up with Mardi Gras (fat day) and the other great carnivals held around the world. All of which originated from different ways to use up all the fat in the house before the start of Lent.

Back to the pancakes, I made up a small batch last night.  My recipe should give you four pancakes and I went into pancake overdrive last night and had three savoury baked pancakes followed by the one remaining pancake with lemon and sugar.  Don’t worry too much about getting a perfect round.  It’s more important to get a nice lacy thin pancake and the shape won’t show once the pancake is rolled up.   If you don’t want to eat them all at once, the batter will keep in the fridge for 48 hours and in fact should improve with resting.   Or just invite someone over to share your pancakes with you – after all it’s only 4 days till Valentine’s day!

perfect pancakes - savoury








Footnote:   For more about the Spanish custom of Entierro de la sardine contact  Mallorca Farmhouses.

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  1. says

    Bit confused here about 2 days till Valentine’s day, or do you mean from the Pancake day? As I said on my blog the other day every Sunday is a pancake day in our house, lol.
    Interesting story about the sardines, from the title I thought you might use the sardines in the pancake recipe, and was thoroughly intrigued.

    • says

      We used to have pancakes about once a month when I was a kid. But, mum didn’t like cooking and it was an easy dessert after roast beef! After that, I half survived on them at Uni, where we made them because they were cheap! And then, I had a boyfriend from Croatia who made huge trays full of sweet and savoury stuffed pancakes.

      Shrove Tuesday is also called pancake day here though and everyone eats pancakes then!

  2. Pamela Morse says

    I officially hate eating in Spain..sardines especially smell awful to me, and should all be cremated, in my opinion. I will happily go for the pancakes, and even have lemons on the tree. I am a HUGE fan of Carnival, some in Europe but more in Trinidad. I give up nothing for Lent, but do enjoy the party with others who pretend to do so. Party on, Fiona.

    • says

      you need the right consistency batter – thinner than for breakfast pancakes American style. Then, once your pan is medium hot, measure about 2 tablespoons into a ladle, pour all the batter in at once and tilt the pan in a kind of circular motion so the batter spreads out. Main things are the right consistency batter and putting all your pancake batter in the pan at once.

  3. JoJo Young says

    They sound delicious, we tend to only have them once a year at home although my Dad makes them constantly so I should really make more effort!

  4. Heather Haigh says

    My duaghter loves pancekes and would eat them every day – I’ll have no excuse on Tuesday now.