A very hungry little boy desperate for his lunch – and hence a slightly frenetic daddy – means that this may not be our smoothest video and you will quite possibly be left with two key questions when watching it. Firstly, exactly how many times does Archie say “more ham” in the video? And quite what was going on with the string pull in my zip-up top?!
As for the pancakes themselves, I lived in France for many years and to this day still use the exact same recipe that I was randomly given by a charming old lady when I was 20 years old and thumbing through cookbooks in a large book store in Lille. I wanted to make proper French pancakes for my French girlfriend at the time (I know, snow to the Eskimos and all that!), and had two books open on crèpe recipes. She tapped me on my shoulder and told me to keep it simple. “Cinq,trois, trois”, she said. 500ml milk, 300g flour and 3 eggs. Sixteen years on and the urban myth in my head says she disappeared in a puff of smoke. Even allowing for exaggeration, the reality is that her simple recipe has stood me in very good stead ever since.
Pancakes are surprisingly quick and easy to make and offer a very interesting alternative to simple sandwiches. They can, of course, be filled pretty well however you want to fill them and are also extremely easy to chew, making them ideal even for younger babies. This batter makes six pancakes. The intention is always to freeze one or two plain ones(they do freeze very well) but somehow the lure of using them in a sweet dessert usually means that their attempted journey from pan to freezer is a futile one.
Ham, cheese and spinach pancakes
Preparation time around 10 minutes. Allow 3 or 4 minutes to cook each pancake.
The batter mix here is for 6 large (25cm) pancakes. I am being slightly vague about the quantities of ham, cheese and spinach as this is a little bit down to personal taste.
340ml milk (I have made these with Alpro soya milk when Archie was dairy allergic and they worked extremely well).
200g plain flour
2 large eggs
Cooked spinach (I also use fresh if I have it. It wilts quickly in the heat of the pancake).
Good quality cooked ham.
Grated mature or extra-mature cheese.
A little butter for cooking
You will need a large (22-25cm/ 8-9 inch) non-stick frying pan
- In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, flour and egg until you get a very smooth batter with no lumps in it. Add a drop of vegetable oil. This helps prevent the pancakes from sticking in the pan.
- Heat your pan on a high heat. When it is very hot, add a drop of oil and a small cube of butter. As soon as the butter has melted, swirl the oil round the pan. Do not let the butter burn.
- Immediately pour in some batter into the middle of the pan, using a ladel, a small glass or a measuring jug (approximately 135ml).
- Swirl the batter around the pan until it covers the entire base of the pan.
- Put the pan on the heat and cook until the pancake starts to go golden brown underneath (probably around 45 seconds).
- Turn the pancake over and cook for a further 30 – 45 seconds.
- Turn the pancake back over (this means that the “prettier” side will be on the outside of the pancake.
- Sprinkle on a good amount of grated cheese and add the spinach and ham.
- Fold the pancake into a square “envelope” by folding four straight edges around the pancake filling (this is easier to understand on the video!!).
- Leave the pancake cook for a further 30 seconds while the cheese melts then turn it over for a further 30 seconds.
- Your pancake is now cooked. Serve immediately.