Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Pancake Day at House Drummond (AKA Abigail Hangs Out At Home)

Google City Experts London invited me to take part in their Pancake Panel Hangout on Air, and as part of the event they sent me a parcel containing all the necessary ingredients to make good pancakes of my own. I enjoy cooking, but often lack luck when it comes to baking - I've managed to screw up pancakes made with Betty Crocker mix before, don't ask me how - so I was super keen to learn all I could from the pancake experts the Google Local team had invited to answer all our questions. 

Worried about our wonky signal up on the third floor, I hefted my laptop down into our tiny kitchen and kicked AT out just as the panel was starting. Since I was in the kitchen already I thought I'd better get started getting some pancakes ready in time for dessert, so I grabbed all the necessary implements and got to work while watching the discussion. Multitasking! Hooray! It was a little amusing watching the Hangout and seeing myself running around in a little box in the corner while everyone else sat soberly at their desks.  

Which pan is more appropriate? Hmmm...

I'd happily added the instructed amount of water to the pancake mix before Nick from Crème de la Crêpe suggested using buttermilk to help make fluffy American-style pancakes, excatly what I was going for. MF had a third of a cup of the stuff sitting in the fridge with a looming Best Before deadline, so immediately I dumped all of it into the mixing bowl. This necessitated the addition of plain flour to thicken out the mixture somewhat, which led to me throwing in approximately five heaped spoonfuls of the stuff, guesstimating all the way and whisking the mixture up as we discussed Cheddar and Nutella as a potential topping combination. (As it turns out, it doesn't really work

If art is to cooking, then science is to baking, which requires far more exact measurements to guarantee good results. There was absolutely no way of knowing if my uncalled-for improvisation had been an inspired move or a recipe for disaster until I tasted the resulting pancakes, so once the panel ended, I got to firing up the stove. One of the tricks that had been shared was making sure the pan gets really hot before ladling the mixture in, and I followed that to the letter. The first one out didn't look like a pancake at all, and although the texture was about right, it tasted very oddly like prata. By this point, AT, MF & HY were done with their dinner of beef stew, and had come back into the kitchen to watch me play mad scientist. They agreed with my verdict, decided eating similar pancakes wouldn't kill them pronounced the whole enterprise as a rousing success and decided to help me out with the frying, since it had become patently obvious that if I were left in charge everything would come out horrible misshapen.  

As it turned out, Pratacake had been a first-pancake-in-the-pan fluke, and the subsequent stack that we produced looked and tasted very much like normal pancakes. They probably could have used a bit more salt for extra oomph, but they really weren't bad for all their half-baked origins. Thanks to the buttermilk, they were enjoyably moist and fluffy. We decided to go with Nutella as the evening's preferred topping, and set about decimating the stack. We were down to the last piece before we remembered to save something for LT.

MF suggested trying Gordon Ramsay's pancake recipe next time, and since we have a full bottle of Maple Syrup at our disposal, I might just try it. First, I'll master the art of round pancakes. Later, I might even learn how to flip them in the air. And after that, world domination. (Bwahahaha.)

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