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.
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.
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.