Pancake recipes you will really want to try

With just a few days to go before Shrove Tuesday, February 21, is Shrove Tuesday, KATE RYAN of shares some history behind the tradition and tasty recipes
Pancake recipes you will really want to try

Banana Pancakes with Maple Whipped Cream and Pecans. Picture: Kate Ryan

SHROVE Tuesday is fast approaching, but what was once a big day of feasting ahead of the Lenten fast of 40 days and nights has morphed into something quite different for most of us.

The day remains important for those who observe Catholic traditions of fasting and feasting. In times past, it may have felt as though the former happened with more frequency than the latter. Every Friday was, and is still for some, considered a fast day when the consumption of meat is forbidden, and why we still associate eating fish with Fridays.

Shrove Tuesday was about using up foods that could lead to temptation during Lent. Many of its ingredients were not allowed and so it was a good excuse to use up all the sugar, butter and eggs so they wouldn’t go to waste; turn them into pancakes and scoff the lot – just to be sure!

Kate Ryan making pancakes at Glandore School. Picture: John Beasley
Kate Ryan making pancakes at Glandore School. Picture: John Beasley

Of course, pancakes are ubiquitous. As we fall ever more in love with brunching, so too does a stack of fluffy pancakes lashed with melting butter, dripping with maple syrup with a side of crispy rashers become a normal bill of fare all year round.

But, if we can get them anytime, anywhere, why do we still look forward to Pancake Day? I like to think it’s because it still holds the same kind of nostalgic charm for foods with a sense of festival about them, like only eating mince pies at Christmas or hot cross buns at Easter.

Or maybe we just like to have an easy excuse for eating more pancakes than we probably should, with as many delicious toppings and fillings as we dare to take on!

As a kid growing up in the 1980s, pancakes were thin, crispy at the edges and sprinkled with too much white granulated sugar, tempered by the sharp hit of too much lemon juice. 

And by lemon juice, I mean those squeezy Jif lemon-shaped plastic dispensers of concentrated lemon-flavoured citric acid. The absolute height of sophistication!

Those thin pancakes that are so perfect for some dramatic flipping action are universally known as crêpes (yes, they were always called crêpes – I know!), with pancakes now keenly associated with the smaller, thicker, fluffier American-style pancakes – or what used to be known as drop scones.

But what pancakes are isn’t limited to these. There are as many types of them around the world as there are countries.

From buckwheat Blinis served with Champagne and smoked salmon to Indian Dosa for breakfast; from the Dutch Baby baked in the oven and pancakes indigenous to Japan, Vietnam and Africa, all the way back to Ireland and the classic Boxty pancake made with potatoes.

For all their simplicity, pancakes are an ideal food for feasting: easy to make, plentiful, crowd pleasing and the perfect base for elevating to something far more sumptuous and decadent.

Blueberry Pancake ingredients. Picture: John Beasley
Blueberry Pancake ingredients. Picture: John Beasley

Although these differing pancakes of the world may not carry the same religious connotations as in Ireland, there’s no denying that we all view pancakes as satisfying, filling and comforting. Little wonder we look forward to the one day a year when we can indulge our taste for them unapologetically.

While dosa may be my favourite pancake of all (a throwback to when I spent a considerable amount of time in India), I don’t have the skill to make them at home (happily, Iyers is back open again and this is the place to go for incredible dosa).

Instead, at home, we make either crêpes or American-style pancakes. My better half is the King of Crêpes, while I am the Queen of American Pancakes. Find below our failproof recipes for both.

Top Tip: The secret to any good pancake recipe is to rest the batter for at least half an hour before cooking. If you can leave it in the fridge overnight, even better, just allow it to come up to room temperature before cooking. Think of it like proving the batter the same way you would prove a bread dough.

American style Blueberry and Honey Pancakes. Picture: Kate Ryan
American style Blueberry and Honey Pancakes. Picture: Kate Ryan

American-style Blueberry and Honey Pancakes

Don’t flip these pancakes until you see little bubbles forming on top, a bit like crumpets. That will tell you the bottom half of the pancake has cooked and set enough to be flipped without causing a mess in the pan.


150 g of flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

2 tbsp honey

130 ml whole milk

2 medium free-range eggs

2 tbsp of melted butter, cooled slightly

Blueberries and local honey


  • Melt the butter in a pan.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
  • In a separate jug, whisk together the eggs, milk and honey, then the butter.
  • Pour the milk mix into the flour mix and whisk with a fork.
  • Leave to rest for at least half an hour.
  • Melt a small knob of butter in a pan. When hot enough, pour in ½ ladle of batter mix per pancake (3 per pan) and add a couple of blueberries to each.
  • Cook for a couple of minutes, turn over and cook for another minute or two.
  • Transfer to a warmed plate in a low oven and repeat until all the mixture is used.
  • Stack the pancakes on a plate and drizzle with honey.
  • Serve with extra blueberries on the side, and maybe some whipped cream.

Plain Crepes. Picture: Kate Ryan
Plain Crepes. Picture: Kate Ryan

Flipping Great Crêpes

We use a cup measure for these pancakes because it’s easier to get equal quantities without weighing the ingredients.

If you have a lightweight pancake pan, this is ideal for some dramatic flipping action. If not, a wide spatula or fish slice is useful for flipping over the pancakes.


1 cup plain flour

1 cup whole milk

2 medium free-range eggs

Pinch of salt



  • In a bowl, add flour, milk, eggs and salt.
  • Whisk until the batter comes together and is a consistency that coats the back of a spoon.
  • Leave to rest for half an hour.
  • Add a knob of butter to the pan, allow to melt.
  • Pour in a ladle-full of the batter mix, and gently swirl it around to fill the base of the pan.
  • Allow to cook long enough for the pancake to set at the bottom and turn a light golden brown. Flip the pancake and cook for another minute or so.
  • Transfer to a warmed plate in a low oven and repeat until all the pancake batter has been used.

Milk Kefir Pancakes with Honeyed Figs Picture: Kate Ryan
Milk Kefir Pancakes with Honeyed Figs Picture: Kate Ryan

Toppings and Fillings

There will always be a special place in my heart for sugar and lemon juice on a crêpe, but that doesn’t mean I’ll always be true to it.

I love experimenting with flavours and textures, so these are some of my suggestions for sweet and savoury pancake toppings and fillings that will turn any Pancake Day treat into a real feast!

I’ve focused on crêpes, American pancakes and dosa here because they are my favourites but mix and match flavours to suit your preference on any kind of pancake – wherever you are!

For Crêpes

• Nutshed chocolate peanut butter with crushed raspberries and icing sugar.

• Tahini, sea salt and crushed banana.

• Bacon and maple syrup.

• Strawberry jam and elderflower cordial whipped cream.

• Lemon juice and sugar.

• Smoked salmon, dill and lemon sour crème.

American style pancakes with Cherry Jam and Whipped Cream. Picture: Kate Ryan
American style pancakes with Cherry Jam and Whipped Cream. Picture: Kate Ryan

For American-style pancakes

• Maple whipped cream and pecans.

• Pumpkin spice butter.

• Maple and chilli glazed baked streaky bacon rashers.

• Blueberries and raw honey.

• Poached rhubarb and vanilla custard.

For Dosas

• Chilli-spiked scrambled eggs.

• Mattar masala (pea curry)

• Tomato, chilli and egg curry.

• Bombay aloo (potato curry).

• Coconut and lime cream, fresh mango, crushed salted peanuts.

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