Holy crepe, Pancake Day is upon us again my friends! Every Shrove Tuesday, I put out a pancake day guide and I’ll be updating it annually with links to the best pancake races, pancakes and crepes across London. Scroll down for a fool-proof pancake recipe if you want to get tossing in your own kitchen!
PANCAKE DAY LONDON EVENTS
Crepe tossers from across the city converge on Pancake Day at Old Truman Brewery for the Great Spitalfields Pancake Race. The annual race has teams of 4 flipping pancakes up and down Dray Walk, raising funds for London Air Ambulance. 91 Brick Lane, E1 6QL (Shoreditch High St overground) 12.15pm for 12.30pm start, FREE (Feb 28)
City of London
Teams from the City Livery Company of Poulters, the Old Bailey, Mansion House and Guildhall and Old Bailey compete in teams of four, wearing a mix of fancy dress and full regalia, to win a commemorative frying pan. Funds raised for the Lord Mayor’s Charity. 12pm at Guildhall Yard, EC2V 5AA (Bank/St Paul’s tube); FREE (Feb 28)
Once again, the Leadenhall Market Pancake Race sets 4 teams against each other in a rush to the finish. Winners get a free meal and frying pan trophy. Spectators win too with all you can eat pancakes at the Lamb Tavern. From 11am, race starts 1pm at the Lamb Tavern, 10-12 Leadenhall Market St, EC3V 1LR (Feb 28)
MPs, Lords and media darlings compete at the annual Pancake Day Rehab Parliamentary Pancake Race, just outside Houses of Parliament, Victoria Tower Gardens, SW1P 3JA. Go find out which MP will be named tosser of the year! From 10am, FREE (Feb 28)
The Better Bankside Pancake Day race takes place from Marlborough Sports Playground, SE1 (Borough/London Bridge tube) with teams racing to raise funds for the charity Painting in Hospitals. Look out for food stalls and fun activities scheduled for the day. And if you’re not too full of fluffy pancakes, scope out Borough Market for foodie treats afterwards. 12.30pm-2pm, FREE (Feb 28)
Head to Here East in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for an all-day pancake fiesta at Canalside. Taste a variety of unusual pancake mixtures flipped up by Mother, Gotto Trattoria, Shane’s, Mason & Co and the Breakfast Club; take part in pancake races, try your hand at pancake tossing, special kids activities (2pm-5pm) and more. At East Bay Lane, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, E20 3BS (Hackney Wick). 12pm-7pm; FREE (Feb 28)
Whizz down to the Scoop at More London for The Flipping Marvellous Charity Pancake race. A host of businesses from SE1 and SE16 are sending representatives on a day that combines pancake race and scavenger hunt, all in name of raising funds for London Bubble’s Young Theatre Makers programme. Between London Bridge and Tower Bridge, SE1 2DB (London Bridge tube). From 12.30pm-2pm, FREE (Feb 28)
PANCAKE DAY MENUS
The staple restaurant for traditional crepes (soft and crispy style) and galettes made with 100% buckwheat flour. Indulge yourself further with waffles and homemade ice cream! At Kensington’s Cafe Creperie on 2-6 Exhibition Rd, SW7 2HF (South Kensington tube).
Hoxton (and multiple locations)
Ultra cool spot The Breakfast Club on 2-4 Rufus St, N1 6PE holds its annual Pancake Eating Challenge (Feb 28), where contenders attempt to eat 12 pancakes in 12 minutes or less. Take it at a slower pace with regular Breakfast Club classic American pancakes, or a limited edition menu (Feb 27-Mar 3). Pancake Races also at branches in Hoxton, Canary Wharf and Battersea. Pancakes available 8am until late, pancake races from 7.30pm (Old St tube)
Go east to the Water Poet in Spitalfields where you can get battered between dry January and Lent, with savoury and sweet crepes. At The Water Poet, 9-11 Folgate St, E1 6BX (Liverpool St tube). Served 12-9.30pm (Feb 28)
Shop yourself silly, then fill your belly with fluffy pancakes from Crêpeaffaire in Westfield Stratford City or branches also in Islington, Box Park Shoreditch, Wimbledon, Chiswick, Westfield White City, Soho, Spitalfields and Stanstead Airport.
We love The Diner on 21 Essex Road, N1 2SA (more branches in Shoreditch, Soho, Camden, Kensal Rise) where you can order from their all-day Pancake Day menu, featuring buttermilk pancakes and a range of yummy toppings. (Angel tube)
King’s Road institution My Old Dutch has been serving the neighbourhood for over 54 years. Flip out for crepes, galettes and American pancakes, as well as Dutch mini pancakes or poffertjes (yum!). Visit branches in Kensington and Holborn or stick with the original restaurant at 221 Kings Rd, SW3 5EJ (Sloane Square tube)
Stay in Chelsea to explore bar/restaurant No 11 Pimlico, SW1W 8NA (Sloane Square tube), that offers a delicious sounding line-up for Pancake Day. Select from options including blueberry ricotta pancakes with maple crème fraiche and syrup, banana and butterscotch, or smoked salmon, crushed avocado and dill. It’s a matching menu at sister branches No 32 The Old Town (Clapham) and No 1 Duke Street (Richmond) and No 197 Chiswick Fire Station (Chiswick).
Easy Pancake Recipe
I cobbled this recipe together through a process of trial and error, after checking out different ones online. Essentially, pancakes rely on 3 ingredients and the best advice is to ‘launch in beta’ (i.e. allow for the first couple of pancakes not to work out) before you hit on the right formula.
Feel free to adjust the measurements below depending on how many pancakes you’re making. You can cook these in a standard frying pan, a heavy bottomed pan or a fancy shmancy crepe maker.
125g (about 1 mug) plain flour
1 mug of milk (about 250ml)
2 tablespoons of melted butter
Pinch of salt (optional)
Sift the flour into a bowl, making a well in the centre. Whisk egg and part of the milk together then add this to the flour, whisking steadily as you go. Add the rest of milk, along with some of melted butter and keep mixing until the batter is a consistency between single and double cream. At this point, I add a drop of vanilla essence.
They say you should let the batter stand for 30 minutes minimum, although I don’t think we’ve ever had the patience for this!
Heat your crepe maker or your pan (brushed with the rest of the butter).
Ladle 2-3 tablespoons of batter onto the crepe maker and spread it round with a spatula, or pour into the pan and tilt until it’s evenly spread. Let it cook until you see tiny bubbles on the surface and the edges begin to curl up. Use the spatula to turn it or have a go at flipping it in the pan (flipping is much more fun for the kids!). Cook on the other side briefly (30 seconds) until golden, then serve.
What toppings do you like on your pancakes? We love Nutella, orange or lemon juice and sugar, maple syrup (or golden syrup if we’re being naughty), bananas or strawberries plus vanilla ice cream with toffee or chocolate sauce!
Pancake race photo by Pedro Figueiredo, via Wikimedia Commons