New recipes and updates

Get new recipes
in your inbox

Cuisine Fiend

Find a recipe by ingredient

Traditional pancakes

Sat, 10 February, 2024

Foolproof, failsafe and classic – my recipe for pancakes aka crêpes. Eaten as English tradition dictates: with lemon and sugar.

traditional pancakes

Trouble with pancakes

The eternal issue: what to call them? It used to be very easy: we had pancakes, and on the other side of the Channel the French had their crêpes. Both pretty much the same thing: flat (as a proverbial pancake) and made with milk, eggs and flour.

In Britain it would be austerely spattered with sugar and lemon juice while the French, of course, would souse it with Grand Marnier and set it on fire.

But then the Dutch had to enter and introduce a bizarre confection: a savoury pancake. Whatever next!

On top of that, it turned out that in Brittany they’d been putting ham, cheese and egg on theirs for centuries, only using an alias of ‘galette’. Like the Dutch, they also made them with wrong flour: buckwheat, which is not even a cereal but rhubarb. WTAF?

And then, like all that wasn’t enough, the Americans marched in with their ‘pancakes’ which, as everyone knows, are not pancakes but blinis, puffy, risen and ridiculously small. They serve them with bacon (what?), maple syrup (no!) and blueberries (oh dear), and eat them every day for breakfast instead of once a year on Pancake Day.

british pancakes with lemon and sugar

My pancake is a crêpe

All joking aside, I am faithful to European pancakes, flat as… well, you know already.

Thin and lacey, whether they are made from wheat or buckwheat, spelt or even rice flour as it was allegedly the case in the siege of Paris scarcity.

There is no leavening agent (you hear, America?!) because that would be against the very principle of the dish (which is fla… ehm). I’m not even going to mention Dutch babies that the Americans also call pancakes, even though they are blatantly obviously Yorkshire puddings.

traditional crepes

Shroves on Shrove Tuesday

I’m actually telling a lie: my pancake isn’t a crêpe or even a pancake.

In my house they are called shroves, following The Weather Man’s unfaltering logic: Shrove Tuesday = Pancake Day; shrove = pancake. He won’t accept that ‘shrove’ comes from ‘shriven’ meaning repentant and forgiven of sins because who cares about sins when you have pancakes in perspective? I admit he has a point.

English pancakes

Pancake batter

And finally, after all my chatter, to the kitchen. Pancake batter is very easy to mix and involves half a cup (125ml) watered-down milk per one egg and about 50g flour (6 tablespoons in American metrics). Multiply as needed, because the above amount will only make 3 large ones.

pancake ingredients

If you don’t own scales, measure out a cup, tumbler, small mug of flour, add 2 eggs and beat in the same measuring vessel of milk plus about a quarter of water. Also, buy scales.

Batter doesn’t need to stand or rest, as long as it’s lump-free. A nonstick pan is handy, a crêpe pan even better but I have very successfully fried pancakes on cast iron and carbon steel.

making pancake batter

The secret of non-sticking

Get your frying pan really hot. The easiest way to know when it’s ready is to add a splash of water to it at the beginning, over high heat. When the water is nearly gone, add a splash of general purpose vegetable oil and spread it thinly with a scrunched-up paper towel.

Butter is no good – it will make the pancake taste lovely but it will burn and you’ll have to wash the pan after each pancake. You’re better off gently toasting a folded pancake in butter just before serving.

Use a ladle or a mug to pour batter into the pan – that way you’ll soon get the required amount right. Tilt the pan around to spread the batter and wait.

When the pancake is ready to turn, you’ll be able to slide a palette knife easily around and underneath it to lift and turn it over. Flipping is vastly overrated.

frying pancakes

Depending on your pan, you might need to oil it every time or every other or third pancake. If it looks too dry, like parchment, it needs oiling.

I usually stack the pancakes, then reheat a couple in butter, as mentioned, folded into a triangle. You can also dot one with butter, fold it and give it a 30 second microwave blast. And then, you just need sugar and lemon.

best old fashioned pancakes

What other toppings for pancakes?

Contrary to what I preach at the start, of course savoury pancakes are delicious. Spinach and cheese, ham and cheese, avocado, cooked mushrooms, leftover roast chicken, baked beans.

And my favourite sweet version, apart from the sugar and lemon, is butter and maple syrup. Gorgeous!

More pancake recipes

American style buttermilk pancakes, with optional blueberries, served with bacon and maple syrup. It’s an easy recipe for an indulgent weekend breakfast.

Galettes au sarrasin, buckwheat crêpes, with a classic topping of ham, cheese and an egg. The type of pancakes best suited to savoury toppings, galettes from Brittany are healthy and easy to make.

Spinach and blue cheese pancakes aka crêpes. European pancakes are thin and - you guessed it - flat as a pancake. The savoury pancake filling is easy and makes a gorgeous dinner not just dessert.

european pancakes aka crepes

Traditional pancakes

Servings: makes 10 large pancakesTime: 30 minutes


  • 400ml (134 cups) whole milk
  • 150ml (23 cup) water
  • 220g (2 cups minus 1 tbsp) plain flour
  • a large pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs
  • oil for frying
  • lemon and sugar to serve


1. Mix the milk and water in a jug. Place the flour, salt and eggs in a bowl. Start whisking, adding a little liquid at first to get thick batter and get rid of the lumps, then gradually add the rest of the milk/water mix, whisking all the time. You should achieve the consistency of single cream. You might have to add some water to the batter halfway through frying, as it will thicken as it stands.

2. Heat up a crêpe pan, a large non-stick pan or a flat griddle until very hot. Pour in a little oil and spread it all over the bottom of the pan with a paper towel. Pour or ladle in about a cupful of the batter, depending on the size of the pan, and tilt the pan sideways so that it spreads evenly.

3. Leave it to cook for a minute, insert a metal spatula or a palette knife carefully underneath to see if the pancake bottom is dry. If it is, slide the spatula under the middle of the pancake and flip decisively. Cook for another minute on the other side, then slide off onto a plate. You probably won’t need to oil the pan more often than for every third pancake.

NEW recipe finder

Ingredients lying around and no idea what to cook with them? Then use my NEW Recipe Finder for inspiration!

Recipe Finder

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published

Characters left 800
Recipe rating
Email address*
Web site name
Be notified by email when a comment is posted

* required

Cuisine Fiend's

most recent

About me

Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


Sign up to receive the weekly recipes updates

Follow Fiend