HAPPY PANCAKE DAY!
I’m a big fan of pancake day, of everything it stands for and the pancakes themselves. Shrove Tuesday came about as a way to use up all the fats and dairy before Ash Wednesday, when people would traditionally start their fast for lent. I do try and give up something every year for lent, however last year I was pregnant so it seemed mean and unfair to deprive myself! I knew if I couldn’t have something I’d just crave it more. This year however I do want to give something up. It’s hard as I’m not a huge chocolate eater (obvious choice), or drinker, so I’m not sure what to do. I’ve given up cheese before, that was hard (I should probably do it again). My other weakness is caffeine, so maybe this year I’ll do that, give up coffee for lent?! I feel sorry for Pete… this is going to be worse for him than me I fear. I’ll keep you posted.
Tonight we have a few friends coming over for pancakes and to be honest I’m keeping it old school. Lemon and sugar, and some savoury cheesy ones (with spinach and ham). However last spring I made this bad boy for a Jamie Magazine feature, and it went down a storm. So if you fancy something a little different this pancake day (or any day) give it a whirl. I promise it won’t disappoint.
MAPLE AND CARAMELISED PANCETTA CREPE CAKE
- 450g plain flour
- 8 large eggs
- 800ml milk
- 25g butter, cubed, plus extra for frying
- 18 slices of pancetta
- 4–5 tbsp maple syrup
- 200g pecans, toasted
- 250g golden caster sugar
- 150g butter
- 250g icing sugar
- 4 tbsp maple syrup
Sift the flour into a large bowl. In a second bowl, whisk together the eggs and the milk until combined, then stir in 300ml of water. Mix the liquid into the flour until you have a smooth batter (be careful not to over-mix it) and stir in a pinch of salt.
Melt the butter in a 26cm frying pan over a low–medium heat, then pour it into your crêpe batter and whisk to combine.
Using the same pan, ladle in just enough mixture to coat the base. Cook for 1 minute, until golden, then flip it and cook for 1 minute on the other side. Transfer the crêpe to a plate.
Repeat until you’ve used up all of the mixture, brushing the pan with a little extra butter if needs be – it should make around 30 crêpes in total. Set them aside to cool.
Line a board with greaseproof paper. In the frying pan, fry the pancetta in batches of four over a medium heat for about 2 minutes, or until crisp, turning halfway through. Then drizzle on 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and fry for a few more minutes, until caramelised – transfer to the lined board. Repeat with the rest of the pancetta.
Save a couple of rashers to serve, then roughly chop the rest and set aside until you’re ready to use them.
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and scatter over the pecans. Again using the same frying pan, melt the sugar over a low–medium heat for 10 minutes, or until it’s a golden caramel – don’t stir, just swirl the pan.
Quickly pour the caramel over the pecans to coat, then set aside to harden. Once set, break the pecan praline into large pieces. Reserve one-third for the topping and smash the rest into coarse granules using a pestle and mortar. Set aside while you make the buttercream.
Cream the butter and icing sugar in the bowl of a free-standing mixer for 5 minutes, until pale and smooth. Beat in the maple syrup and set aside.
Now assemble your cake. Spread each crêpe with a thin layer of buttercream and sprinkle the praline or chopped pancetta over every other one. Then pile them up on a serving board or cake stand.
Finish with a layer of buttercream and the reserved pecans and pancetta. Pop the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes to set, then serve