Making Pancakes

Making Pancakes

It was Shrove Tuesday yesterday, so the majority of people will have treated themselves to a plate of pancakes, be it sweet or savoury. A simple pancake batter of eggs, flour and milk is very easy to make and I do this regularly myself. It can be flavoured with cinnamon, cocoa or vanilla, sweetened with banana or honey, made savoury with the addition of cheese, higher in fibre by adding oats, more filling by adding flaked almonds, coconut or peanut butter, more fruity by adding blueberries. Basically you can do anything with a pancake batter if you feel so inclined.

Pancakes aren’t only for Shrove Tuesday, myself and Neil regularly have them for breakfast on our rest days. For a while we also went through a phase of making ones using whey protein powder instead of flour. Yes these were higher in protein, and great for a breakfast while in training, but they also didn’t taste anywhere near as good, so we gave up after a while and went back to just making ones we enjoyed eating more.

Growing up we rarely had pancakes, literally once a year on pancake day. I used to get so excited about them. My nan would come over and make them for us. She would make a very traditional thin batter, more like the French crepe style, using plain flour, eggs and milk. Then top them with sugar and lemon juice. She would use so much sugar that when you  rolled them up and bit in to them they crunched. It was always my nan’s job to make pancakes, never my mum’s. I remember asking my mum on many occasion why she never made them and she would patiently explain that it was because she struggled to flip them. 

Crepe Suzette – Thin pancake with orange marmalade and flaming grand mariner.

This is the one real difficulty of making pancakes when you can’t see. Making the batter is the easy part. If you can see, then cooking them is also really quick and straightforward. Simply pour a spoonful of the batter in to a hot pan, swirl it so that the batter spreads out thinly across the bottom, cook it for a minute or so, until bubbles start to form on the surface and then flip and cook for the same amount of time on the other side. There are several parts to this that are slightly tricky if you are blind. Firstly, knowing that the batter is evenly spread is difficult without touching it and this would disturb the batter. Watching for bubbles to form is definitely not going to happen, and you can’t hear the bubbles forming like you can with boiling water. You could just work around this by simply working to a time, but this would be a little hit and miss as the cooking time is very much dependent on the consistency of the batter. I don’t know about you. but even if I weigh out my ingredients exactly each time, my batter never seems to be exactly the same thickness. Both of these problems I could work around if I needed to, but the trickiest part of making pancakes is the flipping. I know many people with sight that struggle with this step, It often causes Neil to swear a lot when he is doing it, but next time you are making them I challenge you to close your eyes and do it. Turning something over in a pan that is still part liquid and very thin and delicate requires hand-eye coordination and its just not worth me attempting. I now appreciate a lot more why my mum wouldn’t make pancakes for me when growing up and would rely on my nan to make them. I know that if pushed, I could rustle something up that would be edible, but I would probably cause one hell of a mess and burn my fingers in the process. Its just not worth it.

I have however recently discovered a work around for making pancakes. Instead of cooking them on the hob, I bake them in the oven. I know arguably that they are no longer a pancake as they aren’t in a pan, but if I put the batter in a frying pan and place it in the oven, then technically they are. It does mean that instead of making multiple small pancakes you get one big one, which you can cut up to share. This definitely works well with the thicker American style pancakes which use a rising agent, but I’ve not yet tried it with the thinner French style crepes. Since testing out the baking method of making pancakes, I have come up with a couple of options, including this baked peanut butter and jam pancake and this blueberry and banana one. I’ve not yet attempted to make a savoury pancake in this style yet, but I can’t see why this cheese and sweetcorn pancake I made last year for Shrove Tuesday with the assistance of Neil wouldn’t work. I would have done something like this for yesterday but we decided to go out for our pancakes instead. This of course is another option for if you don’t want to, or feel like you can’t make your own, but of course this is more expensive.

Buckwheat pancake stack with bacon, brie, cranberry reilish and truffle honey.

I would love to be able to make the really thin and delicate crepe pancakes like the ones we had in Paris, but I’m afraid this might just be beyond my capabilities as a bind cook. If people have any suggestions on how to attempt this, then I would appreciate your input. Perhaps if there is anyone reading this who is blind and has mastered cooking them on the hob, then I would love to hear from you as to how you do it. In the mean time I will continue to bake mine. I hope that if you are visually impaired and reading this then you have been inspired to try making your own pancakes as well and next pancake day will feel like you can more easily take part. Thank you for reading and speak soon.

Lora



3 thoughts on “Making Pancakes”

  • Hi Laura, I make pancakes often and while I’m finally OK at flipping, one suggestion is to use two large flippers. one to push under prior to flipping and the second to place over the top of the soon-to-be flipped pancake. Then, clutch both flippers and turn over followed by laying it back down in the pan and removing what has now become the bottom flipper. An alternative device is called “The Perfect Pancake” frying pan which is essentially two frying pans with a hinge joining them. You just flip the entire pan over and boom!

  • Hi Laura. I make pancakes for my kids as they love them so much. It took me a few goes to master it to an edible level, but it is doable when blind😁
    A few things to bear in mind are: 1 the pan needs to be non-stick, 2 butter works better than oil, 3 you can mix the batter in the blender to make sure the consistency is the same for each batch, 4 you can flip them over with a fish slice without having to do that ridiculous tossing that sighted people do. Also, I often use an egg ring as a cutter after making each pancake, so I can get them nice and round. Alternatively, go down the supermarket and buy them😂😂😂

  • I am blind and really appreciate your writing this entry. I found some approaches to this dilemma.

    One is to make your batter from scratch, and use wheat flour.. that one gives them a subtle taste… you can then put a bit of vanilla and probably some cinnamon in the batter to enhance them. Of course, use a measuring cup, (I recommend the self leveling ones by dreamfarm) to scoop and put the batter in. That will make it much more consistent without needlessly spreading it or whatever. I also recommend the non stick pan from eslite life. Probably combining the words easy and elite, this one really lives up to its name… nothing I have done sticks to it… not even scrambled eggs without a single drop of oil! if things stick it means I did not stir that well and part of what I made burned a bit.
    It does not matter if you buy a pre made store mix or make your own, you can skip the rules, because you want the batter to be more on the solid side, it should feel just a little bit more liquid than mud, it should feel a bit thick when mixing. This will also prevent it from disturbing if you decide to touch it. If you are working with a timer, then now most stoves have a tactile dial… so you could mark the position that best works for you.

    Searing: You want the pan to be hot, hot, hot.
    Whatever you should put in it should sizzle. instantly. A simple test can do this… get your hands wet and shake them vigorously but carefully over the pan. A drop should fall and make the sound you are looking for. If it does not then the pan needs to warm up some more.
    Using a spatula… You want the spatula to be thin, and when you are going to flip, you ensure that the pan handle faces you. You want so start from the edge also closest to you, slide the spatula at a diagonal downward angle and then try to straighten it up as you move forward. Now, here is where you need to coordinate both hands. You want to help the spatula a bit by pulling the handle down, so that the pan curves a bit towards you… this should actually mount your pancake into the spatula. You should raise the spatula and if you feel that it has some weight on it, you got it. If this fails, you can keep on moving forward, carefully, and eventually whatever you are scooping will meet the other edge of the pan and hopefully climb onto the spatula… or just back up and try again. At this point its important to know that you can dial the temperature to the minimum so you have then plenty of time to try and try. Trust me, it gets easier over time. More solid foods, such as burger patties are a better practice food than this one, but that doesn’t make this impossible.
    So, you raised it and voila, got some weight on your spatula! the next move is to find the opposite edge of the pan, so if you flip to the right, find the left edge so you have the greatest surface area. You then want to turn the spatula on its edge (normally less than 90 degrees will be more than enough) and toss, but more toss than turn, in one quick motion. If you did this successfully, you will hear the sizzling sound again, probably a little softer than the first one. If you hear no sizzling at all, sorry but you have to repeat the procedure. If you heard but still want to double check then its OK to touch with the spatula first as a guide,then holding it in place and sliding your finger downward until you reach the bottom and feel what you are cooking. Then it does not get any easier… especially with this pan I recommended. You wait at most a couple of minutes, torn the heat off and find a plate, then literally turn the pan over the plate. The pancake will slide right off.

    If you want thin thin ones, I guess air fryer and accessories come to mind, or there are dedicated gadgets that make them. The flip over pans or double pans are also a good idea, but I find that I use them less and less.
    Best of luck and keep us posted on how you do!

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