Pancakes are breakfast heroes. They are typically a weekend treat, often an indulgent highlight on a brunch menu and the ultimate grand finale of a (three course) breakfast buffet.
Yet pancakes aren’t always super sweet and sugary, they can be served savoury or made healthily. There are simple banana pancakes, as Jack Johnson suggests, and all kinds of vegan or gluten-free twists on classic recipes. What’s more, pancakes take on different forms in different cultures and we can be eternally thankful that three of the world’s best pancake varieties can be sampled right here in London.
With history on their side, delicate French crêpes are what usually spring to mind when we think of pancakes. The classic batter we try to flip in our kitchens at home; the snack we seek from roadside vendors in Paris; the treat we spent all our Euros on during that school trip to France (just me?). The North London hotspot La Crêperie de Hampstead offers a whole array of toppings from an authentically French roadside stall. Visit Hampstead high street for their ‘Classic French’ crêpe Suzette, with butter, sugar, lemon, orange and crème marnier (cream liqueur), or the ‘Banana Maple Cream Dream’ – the most popular item on their menu, now in its 26thyear.
Beyond France? The more batter the better. American pancakes have become international sensations, they are fluffy in texture, ultra absorbent, best served piled high and drizzled in syrup. While maple syrup is the obvious choice, American pancakes take on any flavour like a delicious sponge, as Southwark’s ultimate pancake destination Where the Pancakes Are proves. Their menu boasts two types of batter: buttermilk or dairy-free with highlights including ‘The Pulled Beef Pastrami’– two pancakes served with slow-cooked brisket, cheddar cheese and sauerkraut and ‘The Hummingbird’ – topped with cinnamon poached pineapple, cream, lime and pomegranate. Delicious.
New to London are the sumo wrestlers of the pancake world. Japanese pancakes are big but agile, they may look thick and substantial but are amazingly light and airy; they even jiggle around when the plate is wobbled, making them the perfect candidate for an instagram boomerang. Fuwa Fuwa (meaning ‘fluffy’) has recently popped up near Russell Square and serves soufflé-like pancakes with whipped cream and a selection of toppings, from matcha ice cream to honeycomb butter.
So, with less than six months until Shrove Tuesday it’s time to get fully acquainted with your new favourite pancake spots. Do you like your pancakes classically continental, big, bold and American or soft and cloud-like? Let us know below…