Novelist and SW Resident columnist Louise Candlish flips out about Pancake Day – 13 years of motherhood, and those delicious spheres of batter continue to elude her…
One of the many ways in which I fall short as a mother – and a human, frankly – is in my inability to make pancakes. They were on Bake Off last year, after all, in an impossible intricate lacy form that made my hands sweat just watching.
Pancake Day is important, I know, at least it is during Act I of life. As a child, I didn’t know Shrove Tuesday was what we were marking – or even that it was a Tuesday. My mum was a brilliant pancake chef, even if the way of the 70s was that dads went first and kids had to wait for them to polish off their pile before moving up the queue.
For years after leaving home I didn’t ‘do’ Pancake Day, encountering our flat friends only on hungover mornings in Amsterdam or maybe, once in while, on a nostalgic pitstop at My Old Dutch on the King’s Road.
There was even a decade-long abstention following inadvertent aversion therapy in New York, where my friends and I binged on what the restaurant called pancakes, but were in fact full-sized sponge cakes. (We had three each.) Then, as I say, motherhood.
There have been 13 years so far and not a single one when the pancakes have worked. One year they were a big ball of mush in the middle of the pan, another they were small balls of mush around the outside.
Even ready-made batter and a new non-stick pan went wrong – one of our infant guests was absolutely convinced they were eating vegetarian toad-in-the-hole.
Then there was the year we just completely forgot and our daughter was the only one in the world who didn’t get them (bar the 800 million-odd poor souls the UN cites as hungry, you understand).
There have been 13 years of motherhood so far and not a single one when the pancakes have worked
In a totally unrelated trend, for the next three years she went to friends’ houses, where not only was golden perfection guaranteed, but they’d probably mastered the aforementioned lacework before it was even a (complicated) twinkle in Paul Hollywood’s eye.
Well, this year is going to be different. I decided weeks ago I would book a table somewhere posh and have an expert do the tossing for me, but when I asked my friends for recommendations, I drew a blank.
‘There’s that great place in Spitalfields?’
‘No, I want south of the river.’
‘What about that bar in Battersea, where you can get a whole stack for £1?’
‘Not posh enough. I want the loving, handmade ritual of it.’
‘Er, maybe Pizza Express could help you out?’
So if you read this before the 28th, please do tweet me your best crêpe secrets (a rare pun: none of us is immune). Otherwise, just assume it all went pear-shaped.
Probably literally. Hopefully not fatally.