Thursday, 7 February 2013

Pancakes with Lemon & Thyme Sugar


Next Tuesday, the 12th of February, is Pancake Day (a.k.a. Shrove Tuesday). Pancake Day is the only food holiday that I never miss.

I tend to call pancakes crêpes here, to avoid confusion with American pancakes. But Crêpe Day sounds silly (and a bit pretentious), so today they're pancakes.


There are many ways to eat a pancake.

If I'm ordering one at a fair, I tend to go for a slathering of Nutella that bubbles and pales as it warms on the circular hot plate.

Sometimes, at home, I swirl double cream and maple syrup in the middle, then roll it up into a tube. Each slice drips as you eat it, so you have to sweep it up with the next slice - just for the same thing to happen again.

Recently I made a version of this unusual food52 recipe: pancake parcels filled with a ricotta-mascarpone mixture, topped with a honey and blood orange sauce.


Today I cooked a banana with a tablespoon of butter, a tablespoon of maple syrup and a pinch of salt until the slices were caramelised and soft. Piled onto two hot pancakes with a splash of double cream and a touch more maple syrup, they made an oozy, sweet and filling pudding.


But, to be honest, I usually eat pancakes flipped onto a plate straight from the pan, soaked with lemon, sprinkled with sugar straight from the packet and eaten with my fingers, standing in the kitchen, while they're still hot and crispy around the edges. They're perfect as they are - I certainly don't blame you if you never try them with anything other than lemon and sugar.

However. Sometime around the beginning of the year, mum and I were making pancakes when I noticed some leftover thyme on the counter. On a whim, I crushed a few leaves into the sugar with my fingers. It adds a background herbal note that gives it a little edge.

How do you eat your pancakes on Pancake Day?


Pancakes with Lemon & Thyme Sugar
(adapted many years ago from Delia's Complete Cookery Course)

15g unsalted butter
55g plain flour
pinch of fine sea salt
1 egg
100ml milk
25ml water
a lemon
a few spoonfuls of sugar
a few springs of thyme

Melt the butter in a large, sturdy frying pan. Keep heating until the foam dies down and the butter is full of rusty flecks (see brown butter foundation for more guidance). Pour into a bowl to cool.

Tip the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and whisk together. Make a well in the middle then break the egg into it. Whisk in, incorporating some of the flour. Pour in a bit of the milk and whisk in, slowly incorporating all the flour and milk. Add most of the water, reserving a dash to change the consistency if needed - it should be around double cream. Whisk in the butter. Scrape the batter into the milk measuring jug, to make pouring easier (or use a ladle). Leave to sit for a few minutes while you organise the fillings - in this case, slice up the lemon and briefly rub the thyme leaves into the sugar.

Heat the pan up over a high heat - once you can feel a strong heat when you hold your hand a few inches above the pan, turn the heat down a bit and add a small knob of butter and swirl around (if the pan is hot enough, the butter browns almost immediately after it melts). Holding the pan at an angle, pour a bit of the batter into the pan and swirl into a thin layer. When it starts to brown around the edges, flip. Once that side is done, remove to a plate and serve immediately with the lemon and sugar (or stack on a plate with kitchen paper in between, then reheat when you serve). Adjust the consistency if the pancake is too thick and repeat, melting a little butter in the pan each time. The batter keeps in the fridge for a day (whisk it back together before using).

(Makes 5-6 pancakes, easily multiplied up)


A few more posts about crêpes pancakes:
2012: Crêpes Suzette
2011: Dusky Caramel and Raspberry Crêpe Cake
2010: Wholemeal Crêpes

51 comments:

  1. Lemon & sugar, just how I love my pancakes! Thanks for posting this, I live in NZ now and often miss Pancake Day, but now I'll be prepared for Tuesday. My husband thinks I'm mad sprinking sugar and lemon on pancakes, he prefers your first method of banana and maple syrup. Looking forward to an evening of pancakes :)

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  2. Snap Amy W - I'm from New Zealand and maybe it's your husband who's the unusual one because everyone I know back home loves pancakes with lemon and sugar! ;) It's my favourite. Living in France at the moment, just finished with the galettes des rois, now bring on the crepes! Here they often eat them with salted butter and jam or chestnut cream =)

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  3. These are gorgeous! And so unique. Love this combo of flavours :)

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  4. thecitygourmand7 February 2013 22:50

    I love the rustic feel of the dish. Thyme sounds like an interesting addition!

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  5. mmm a lovely variation on standard pancakes!


    Black & Gold Laura xx

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  6. lemon and sugar, hot and crispy around the edges, standing in the kitchen - oh yes!!

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  7. The last time I ate pancakes, I had them with plain yogurt and apples sauteed with cinnamon and sugar. Of course, mine were firmly American pancakes -- I think I'd eat these beautiful crepes with lemon and sugar too!

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  8. Yes, yes, and yes. I'll take them!

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  9. Paula @ Vintage Kitchen8 February 2013 09:40

    We eat a lot of pancakes here in Argentina filled with dulce de leche, but I never heard the lemon sugar idea. It sounds wonderful, especially with thyme!

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  10. Pancake day is just not the same without that trusty old Delia recipe is it? Thyme sounds like a wonderfully fragrant addition.

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  11. poiresauchocolat8 February 2013 12:27

    I thought it might remind a few people, it's so early this year. There's something so simple and satisfying about lemon and sugar, isn't there.

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  12. poiresauchocolat8 February 2013 12:32

    Hehe - it's always fascinating to hear about cultural differences. Chestnut cream sounds amazing. I had some wonderful buckwheat crêpes with caramel beurre salé when I was in Brittany a few years ago.

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  13. poiresauchocolat8 February 2013 12:33

    Glad you like them - though I'm pretty sure I can't claim they're unique!

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  14. poiresauchocolat8 February 2013 12:35

    It gives it a herbal note that mellows out the sharp/sweet - just something a bit different. Nice for a change!

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  15. poiresauchocolat8 February 2013 12:41

    I'm always on the lookout for pancake recipes - glad you like the ideas.

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  16. poiresauchocolat8 February 2013 12:42

    So good. I think they're one of the only foods I actually eat standing up rather than properly sitting at a table!

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  17. poiresauchocolat8 February 2013 12:43

    I bet a crepe would be yummy filled with apples and yogurt too. I wish I was better at making American pancakes - I've had a lot of trouble with them over the years. Which seems a bit silly!

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  18. poiresauchocolat8 February 2013 12:43

    Hehe! I don't think they'd post well ;)

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  19. poiresauchocolat8 February 2013 12:44

    Oh wow, dulce de leche must be wonderful. I love that stuff - I'll have to try it.

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  20. poiresauchocolat8 February 2013 12:44

    Thank you! Glad you like them.

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  21. poiresauchocolat8 February 2013 12:51

    Nope! Delia all the way. It's a nice change - a little revitalisation.

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  22. When I was little we'd do rounds of pancakes for supper on Shrove Tuesday - filled with cheese and cherry tomatoes first then round after round of lemon and sugar ones. I think the cheese version was just my mum's way of pretending we weren't just eating sugar for supper ;-)

    Lemon thyme sugar sounds like the perfect twist - I love the addition of thyme or rosemary to desserts.

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  23. poiresauchocolat8 February 2013 14:22

    I remember having savoury ones as a child too, with my extended family - I have a memory of pancakes with curry in? Sounds a bit weird now, maybe that's a bit hazy! I love cooking rounds of them - especially when you can take turns doing the cooking and eating with another person.

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  24. Abbe@This is How I Cook8 February 2013 15:21

    Well, I grew up in Illinois and Feburary 12 was Abraham Lincoln's birthday for which there is no food associated. I think I like the idea of pancakes and I'm sure honest Abe would approve.

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  25. lemon and sugar is the only way to eat pancakes in my house! I love the addition of lemon thyme it sounds like a sophisticated twist on a classic!

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  26. What an interesting twist on the classic lemon and sugar topping for pancakes (although, being German, I did not discover lemon and sugar on pancakes until I moved to the UK for school aged 16 - at home it was all about jam, nutella, honey or maple syrup for sweet pancakes!).



    Hoping to make it out of work at a decent time next Tuesday for a round of pancakes to celebrate Shrove Tuesday - a tradition I have embraced open-armed ever since first discovering it!

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  27. aw, crepes and pancakes are so different though! i know what you mean, a pancake sounds more humble, but my husband showed me how humble and spectacular a crepe can be, too. your recipe looks lovely. :)

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  28. Love your flavour combination.

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  29. This is really cool. I saw that Artisan du chocolat makes chocolates with a filling of lemon and thyme ganache, as well as banana and thyme ganache. Bit of an odd combination I thought initially but it works.

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  30. poiresauchocolat11 February 2013 16:49

    That's cool, I didn't know that. I like the idea that you could merge them. Though next year the dates won't be the same!

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  31. poiresauchocolat11 February 2013 17:17

    It's nice to have a house tradition. I used normal thyme - I bet lemon thyme would be really good!

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  32. poiresauchocolat11 February 2013 17:19

    How interesting - I didn't know lemon/sugar was an especially British thing. Jam/nutella/honey/maple doesn't sound too shabby, though!


    It's such a great tradition, I love it. Hope you get time tomorrow!

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  33. poiresauchocolat11 February 2013 17:21

    I would normally call them pancakes at home, though - crepes and pancakes are the same thing in my mind! It does get a bit confusing, though, especially as so many readers are American and now their style of pancake is everywhere. Though we had drop scones when I was little that are very like American pancakes.

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  34. poiresauchocolat11 February 2013 17:21

    Thanks Amy - I hope you have a good Pancake Day tomorrow.

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  35. poiresauchocolat11 February 2013 17:22

    I can get my head around lemon/thyme/chocolate but banana/thyme/chocolate takes a bit more thought! I'll have to get some of their truffles and give it a go.

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  36. A massive thank you for this post! This is the first pancake day where I am not at my parents house to uphold my lunchtime tradition on pancake day for a massive plate of these from the Delia Smith book, so thanks for the recipe; and suitable for one person, too! Also, I added the thyme to my sugar bowl; what an amazing addition which I have now made part of my tradition! http://instagram.com/p/VpOqQ1SPm8/ (Also, an update on the vanilla bean biscuits in a blender experiment. EPIC fail, just so you know!)

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  37. Thank you for the lemon and thyme idea - it was a huge hit. It's a combination I love and use often in savoury things, but had never thought about using in sweet. We had a complete pancake-fest yesterday, starting the day with American breakfast pancakes (Nigella's from Domestic Goddess) with fruit/Greek yoghurt/maple syrup/honey/jam/Nutella, followed by 'ski pancakes' for dinner (French buckwheat galettes with ham and cheese, like we get from little huts half way up the mountain when we're skiing - though sadly not quite as good!) and finished with a batch of Delia's classic pancakes with lemon, sugar and, of course, thyme. Never let it be said that we don't make the most of the day!

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  38. disqus_py7YJc52oF14 February 2013 21:37

    These are gorge. How do you feel about souffle pancakes? Bit much, natch?
    The little blackened crispy bit in the first photo is almost too much for me. Nom nom nom

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  39. poiresauchocolat15 February 2013 15:03

    I'm so pleased I could hand on the Delia (though I have fiddled a bit, sorry Delia) and you liked the thyme. The photo looks delicious. Sorry to hear the blender didn't work - I was a bit skeptical! But worth a try & good to know.

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  40. poiresauchocolat15 February 2013 15:59

    What a feast! So pleased the thyme was a hit.

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  41. poiresauchocolat15 February 2013 16:00

    I hadn't heard of souffle pancakes - souffles, yes, and dutch baby pancakes - but not a souffle pancake. From a quick google they look intriguing, though possibly not something to replace a good old lemon-sugar with... & the crispy brown bits at the edge are the best.

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  42. I decided not to risk it in the end and made pancakes for breakfast in the end ... made banana pancakes topped with peanut butter and blueberry jam ... one my favourite ways of eating pancakes in the morning.

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  43. poiresauchocolat15 February 2013 16:06

    Sounds delicious - were they American style pancakes?

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  44. Hey, in my book anyone by Mary Berry can be fiddled with. And I don't think my view on that has much to do with her recipes (which are fantastic, though) and everything to do with the fact that I watch way too much Great British Bake Off!


    And to be honest I was a bit skeptical too, but ever since a anchovy pesto from Nigelissima worked in there when it really should not I have been just going ahead and trying things anyway, you never know! Well, if this year will teach me anything, it is to appreciate a fully kitted out kitchen...

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  45. Mmm.. this sounds so fabulous! Thyme sounds like a perfect addition to these pancakes.

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  46. Yes - not sure why but it never occurred to me to make German style pancakes (big and very thin, similar to British style pancakes) for breakfast, maybe because it is not something we eat for breakfast in Germany!

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  47. éva-mona aprilfourteenth26 February 2013 13:51

    Hello! Crêpes Day actually exists: it's called "Chandeleur" and it's the day in the year when everybody makes crêpes here, in France! Just discovered your blog and I love it (and I also graduated in English Language and Literature so that's one more thing in common apart from the love of food!) ;)

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  48. poiresauchocolat28 February 2013 08:27

    Thanks Rachel - it's a nice change!

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  49. poiresauchocolat28 February 2013 08:27

    I guess it's quite a British thing, having lemon and sugar on crepes. Hope you enjoy them if you get around to trying them.

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  50. poiresauchocolat28 February 2013 08:28

    How interesting, I didn't know that! What date is it? So pleased you like it (especially as an English graduate).

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