Cooking Experiences

USA or UK for pancake day?

Given that pancake day is meant to be about getting rid of your leftovers, it is a touch ironic that nowadays pancake day is considered one of the most glutenous days of the year! No, it doesn’t match up with Christmas or Easter as a day for pure indulgence and allowing all dignity to depart but it is still a day of greed! As a result of this I decided to go the whole hog this year and have a ‘face off’ between a USA style pancake stack and a more traditional classic UK pancake.

Pancake ingredients

The ingredients

If we’re honest, classic UK style pancakes are not exactly hugely tricky to cook. That said, an undercooked, not well mixed, or even sour pancake is not easily forgotten. With this in mind, getting the basics right in terms of getting good quality ingredients and putting a shift in when mixing the classic UK pancake batter is essential. For the USA style pancakes, a similar story is true, but you do have to be prepared to put in a bit more of a shift working the butter into the mix as well as ensuring that you get a very good, thick consistency. It takes a lot more work getting the batter nice and smooth.

pancake batter mixed

Smooth batter

I personally subscribe to the notion that allowing the batter to rest is not worth it. Yes, it might do a tiny amount to make your pancakes a bit more fluffy but I really don’t think this is necessary. For USA style pancakes the addition of baking powder means that there is not even a debate about needing a rest: just get on with it!

Regular pancake batter

Regular pancake batter

One you have decided to get frying, you need to factor in two things. You will need different fats and the different pancakes take a dramatically different amount of time to cook. For the USA style pancakes, you need butter in the pan and they take at least 3 minutes on either side to cook. With the UK pancakes you are talking about veg oil, poured onto a kitchen towel and then wiped around a thinner pan, and a cooking time of about a minute and a half per pancake.

Of course the best part of any pancake cooking session should be and really must be the flipping of the pancake. Sadly, the USA style pancake does not really offer this option as you have to just use a utensil to get them turned over after three minutes of cooking. As well as this, they need to look a bit more presentable and to keep them round I used an egg holder that keeps fried eggs circular. A touch excessive but it does the trick!

Pancake batter cooking

Getting my fry on!

Once you have flipped, or turned the USA pancakes, this is where for most of you the fun part starts! For my wife Charlotte, pancakes are all about Nutella and therefore she absolutely lathers both styles in the chocolaty spread. I personally go for the traditional sugar and lemon juice approach for the UK pancake and the golden syrup and blueberry approach for the USA style.

Pancake batter cooking

Pancake batter cooking

Both are very different in taste and for me it was very hard to pick a favourite. Yes, the UK style is quicker to make and you get a lot more of them much faster. Despite this, the thinner style does not offer as much interest in terms of texture in my opinion. That said, I know that the USA style could come across as being a bit too heavy for some people, especially with the added syrup that doesn’t exactly scream diet!

American Pancake

USA more than okay!

Overall, I enjoyed a different take on pancake night and now feel that I might not be as dependent on going to IHOP next time I go to the USA. That said, my faith in the greatness of the traditional and still somewhat humble classic UK pancake remains!

A UK pancake with nutella

Too much nutella!?

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