SW Resident’s celebrated food writer Sudi Pigott loves pancakes so much that she wrote a book about the vast culinary world beyond the lemon-and-sugar variety…
Who doesn’t love pancakes? They are a simple, honest, universally loved comfort food and in times of austerity, Brexit and Trump, it is no coincidence that pancakes, with their cosy evocations of home, are very much back in vogue, albeit fused with modern and global food trends.
Pancakes make us happy and the ritual of cooking and flipping the batter merely adds to their appeal. What I love most is that every culture has their own pancake tradition talked about with great affection. My own fondest pancake memories are of competing with my brother to flip pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, though our attempts didn’t ever come close to the Australian Guinness world record flipper (who miraculously managed 140 flips in a minute!).
I look back nostalgically to long walks on Hampstead Heath with the promise of creamy garlicky mushroom-filled crepes from a street stall afterwards, long before street food became hip. I’ll never forget my first experience of crepes suzettes at The Ritz either, flambéed with great ceremony.
No wonder I decided to write a book about pancakes: Flipping Good. To me, pancakes in all their delicious diversity have long been one of the most pleasurable, life-affirming foods. I wanted to vividly demonstrate that there is a world beyond pancakes eaten with lemon and sugar, that there’s a whole culinary world for the gastronomically curious to explore.
The most Instagrammed pancakes right now are dramatically fluffy ‘Dutch babies’, baked in the oven and served either savoury with goat’s cheese or sweet with apples, berries and cream
What makes pancakes so on trend right now is that so many recipes from around the globe use gluten-free flours: from quinoa to coconut. They don’t even have to be made exclusively from grains – think chestnut and chickpea.
Simple variations on lemon and sugar pancakes for Shrove Tuesday I especially recommend include maple syrup, butter and squares of good plain chocolate; cinnamon and lime tossed pineapple with pomegranates and toasted coconut; and mixed berry compote with crushed meringues.
I relished, too, experimenting with different kit such as an appam pan (easy to find in Tooting) for making Hoppers, and a special cast-iron aebelskiver pan with little hollows for producing distinctive puffy, spherical pancakes, traditionally turned with knitting needles.
The most Instagrammed pancakes right now are dramatically fluffy ‘Dutch babies’, baked in the oven and served either savoury with goat’s cheese or sweet with apples, berries and cream.
Reflecting the massive popularity of all-day brunch menus, more and more restaurants are featuring pancakes on their year round menu too: pancakes are no longer just for Shrove Tuesday.
In fact, the scope for pancakes is flipping unstoppable.
Flipping Good: Pancakes from Around the World £12.99 is published by Kyle Books
SOUTH WEST LONDON’S
MOST ORIGINAL PANCAKES
Savoury pancakes made with buckwheat flour, originally from Brittany, given a Brazilian twist at Brixton Village’s Senzala, which also has a good selection of vegan galettes.
Osaka-style Japanese pancakes made with a special flour containing dashi and bonito, cabbage and a choice of fillings (okonomi means ‘as you like it’) including pork, squid or kimchi, plus special housemade okonomi, which is like a spicy brown sauce
Chickpea pancakes found especially around Nice where they are served with olive or anchovy tapenade. Closer to home, new Pear Tree Café in Battersea Park serves chickpea pancakes with aubergine, labneh and mint.
Syrian pancakes filled with ricotta and pistachio and flavoured with orange water. They are usually just cooked on one side and a great favourite after Ramadan. Find them at Meza in Tooting.
Fermented Sri Lankan pancakes made with rice flour and coconut. Jaffna House in Tooting serves the best I’ve come across alongside South East Indian specialities including masala dosa, made from fermented rice and lentils ground to a flour and most often filled with a spicy potato mix.
90 Tooting High Street SW17 0RN