Traditional pancakes, hotcakes, pikelets and crêpes will always have a special and dear place in both our hearts, but there is no denying that making multiple batches is a faff. All too often, the host is a slave to the stove, swearingly juggling pans and preoccupied with turning out individual pancakes for guests, who eat them as fast as they’re cooked and – fair enough – never stop wanting another one. Wendy loves pancakes so much that this was a sacrifice she was prepared to make… until, that is, she discovered the baked pancake, which leaves the host sipping tea and chatting instead of pouring batter and flipping. The puffy pancake employs a similar modus operandi to the Yorkshire pudding, puffs up more than you would think possible, and can be sliced into wedges for everyone to enjoy at the same time. No excuse for not giving it a go, whether for breakfast, or – since it feels quite a celebratory dish – a weeknight treat to mark a good spelling test, a viola exam passed, or just getting to Friday unscathed.
Whizz up the eggs, milk, flour, salt, and sugar using a blender, or just whisk well by hand. However you do it, keep going until you have a nice smooth batter: it should be pourable and quite thin. Set the batter aside for at least an hour at room temperature, or overnight
in the fridge.
To make the syrup, put all the ingredients in a small saucepan and set over low–medium heat until the butter is melted and the mixture starts to froth, then pour into a heatproof jug. (The syrup will keep for a few days in the fridge.)
It is best to have your batter at room temperature, so take it out of the fridge an hour or so before you start to cook. Preheat your oven to 220°C (200°C fan), and put a 22–26 cm ovenproof skillet or frying pan with reasonably deep sides over high heat. When it is hot, add the unfeasible amount of butter prescribed and swirl it around until it starts to bubble; the butter might even get a slight nuttiness and start to brown. Don’t sweat – the most important thing is to have a blisteringly hot pan. Quickly and carefully, pour the batter right into the middle of the pan: the batter should sweep the melted butter out to the sides of the pan to prevent any sticking and also give delicious crisp edges – a small pool of browned butter will gather in the middle of the batter and that is fine. Give the pancake about 30 seconds over high heat for the base to set and then transfer to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until puffed and golden. (If you don’t have an ovenproof frying pan, you could make this in a Pyrex dish with reasonably high sides: heat it in the oven, add the butter, return the dish to the oven so the butter gets really hot, then add the batter and bake in the same way.)
Meanwhile, have the syrup poised for action. Place a bowl of berries or other fruit on the table – and another bowl of yoghurt, if you like. (Or, if a guest asked on accepting the invitation ‘what can I bring?’ and you answered ‘a giant fruit salad thanks’, then you’re all set.)
Get everyone seated and have a big chopping board or plate ready to go. Use your thickest oven gloves to remove the skillet from the oven and, with a bit of a tilt and jiggle, the pancake should slip right out onto your serving board or plate. A dusting of icing sugar is an option here, but that would be mostly about looks rather than necessity – you are about to douse it in syrup, for goodness sake. You have about 30 seconds before the thing starts to deflate, so hurry it to the table and use a bread knife to cut it into wedges (like a pizza).
Let people help themselves to fruit and yoghurt, and pass the syrup around. This is the kind of thing where you should not wait for others to start. Get stuck in!
The honey and orange syrup came about when Wendy realised she was splashing more than ten dollars’ worth of maple syrup on every family-sized puffy pancake at home, so looked for a less spendy option. But if you want to buy yourself a few extra minutes in bed, by all means, go with maple syrup.
Annabel Crabb is one of Australia’s most beloved journalists. She is the ABC’s chief online political writer, writes a weekly opinion column for Fairfax, is the author of the bestselling book The Wife Drought and is a sought-after speaker and presenter. As host of the ABC’s enormously popular series Kitchen Cabinet, Annabel has broken bread with Australia’s most influential political leaders and shared her magnificent desserts in kitchens around the country. As well as being a writer and entertainer, Annabel is a celebrated baker and mother of three. She lives in Sydney.
Try more recipes in Annabel Crabb and Wendy Sharpe’s Special Guest book!