When I was around seven years old, we were invited to my parents’ friends’ house for brunch. I had never heard of brunch before and was intrigued by the explanation that it was a cross between breakfast and lunch and was apparently an ‘American’ thing. I can’t remember much about what exactly was served, aside from some amazing blueberry pancakes. I don’t think I’d ever had blueberry pancakes before (I might have come across a blueberry muffin or two, but blueberries weren’t something I commonly encountered). Pancakes weren’t something my mum cooked often (her recipe was a lengthy process that involved leaving the batter to stand for a set period of time, but we sometimes had chicken and mushroom pancakes as a special dinner). I was surprised when the maker of the blueberry pancakes told me that they were really easy to make, and that she thought I could make them myself and invited me to the kitchen to copy down the recipe. I tested out the recipe the next weekend (without the blueberries as we didn’t have any), and proceeded to make pancakes almost every weekend thereafter.
In my parents’ house, I cooked pancakes on a large electric frying pan, placed on the kitchen table so I could reach it. It was easy to get a consistent temperature, you could cook lots at once, and it was easy to wipe clean afterwards. I don’t have an electric frying pan now (we have enough other appliances), so we just cook them in a frying pan on the stove and my children stand on a step stool/kitchen helper tower (‘learning tower’). They can also be cooked on a barbecue hotplate.
Both of my children enjoy cooking and eating pancakes, they’re nice and soft for toddlers who don’t yet have all of their teeth, and leftover ones make an easy snack. Whilst my usual recipe is pretty simple, we now have an even simpler ‘3 ingredient’ version I use for a quick weekday lunch or snack, that young children can make themselves (or I can make whilst holding a baby/accepting the assistance of multiple hungry children). The quick ones are fluffier/thicker, so not as good for rolling (they’re a different style of pancake).
My preferred toppings are either maple syrup or lemon and sugar (fresh lemon squeezed over a sprinkling of brown sugar), although my children also like jam or cream cheese, and I have been known to make savoury fillings and serve them up for dinner. I believe the original blueberry pancakes in my story used tinned blueberries, and I don’t recall how they were meant to be added in, but if you want to try with fresh blueberries it’s best to dot them in individually after you’ve poured the batter into the pan. Grated apple and cinnamon is another tasty option, otherwise just experiment with whatever takes your fancy.
Blueberry pancakes without blueberries
2 cups Plain flour
½ teaspoon Bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon Cream of tartar
2 cups Milk
2 tablespoons Sugar (I usually leave this out)
Butter, for cooking
1 Put all ingredients in bowl
2 Mix together with a wooden spoon/whisk until smooth
3 Heat pan, add a small amount of butter (maybe a teaspoon?) and allow to melt.
4 Use a ladle to add batter to the middle of the pan (or spread small pancakes around the pan). You can ‘swirl’ the pan to spread the batter more, but I skip this with little kids.
5 Once bubbles pop and surface appears mostly ‘dry’, flip pancake and cook on the other side for 30 seconds or so. If the pancakes are dark brown, turn down the heat, you want them to be ‘golden’.
Proceed to cook as many more pancakes as you need. I find I need to add more butter after about 3 pancakes (they start to stick), but that probably depends on your pan. You can cook all the batter and keep any leftovers as snacks, or keep extra batter in a covered container in the fridge for a day or two (it separates and may look a bit ‘grey’, but if you mix it together it cooks fine).
Quick pancakes for kids
1 cup Self raising flour
1 cup Milk
Mix together and cook as above.