Daily Archives: February 3, 2021

Of Groundhogs and Pancakes

2 February is not just Groundhog Day. If like me you’re from Belgium, you also know it’s pancake day: traditionally celebrated on Candlemas. Belgian/European pancakes are different from the US variety: I guess you’d call them crepes here to differentiate. (We just don’t know yours are different, and if we do, we call them American pancakes.)

So of course I had to make pancakes, because everyone on the What’sApp family group was telling me all about theirs. And it turns out you can make them with one hand if you have a good cast iron pan. A heavy pan does not slide around so you don’t need a second hand to stabilize it or keep it in place.

I even managed to crack an egg with one hand. I admit that was the most risky aspect of the whole business. But I was prepared to risk a very messy kitchen for some real homemade pancakes. Here’s the basic recipe (link in Dutch) I use for one hungry Belgian:

  • one egg
  • 250 mL milk
  • 100 gram flour
  • pinch of salt
  • chunk of butter, unsalted (melted if possible; 10g, or eyeball it)

Mix all these ingredients in a blender, and heat a cast-iron pan that you only use for making pancakes. Oil the pan with some standard non-flavored oil (preferably not olive oil in other words), and when the pan is nice and hot pour in a thin layer of batter. When the batter is no longer liquid on the top, flip the pancake. The hotter your pan, the crispier the pancakes will be.

You can experiment with thicknes. Thicker pancakes sometimes are also called egg cakes in my family, but I think we make that batter with less milk. In spring we sometimes added dandelion leaves, and you can also add rolled oats.

If you have guests, you can multiply this recipe easily by just adding more eggs and adjusting the other quantities proportionally. Most blenders can handle up to 1 L of milk with the other ingredients.

Image of a pancake/crepe with golden brown crispy colouring, in a black cast iron pan.
Crispy golden pancake, darn near perfect.

Once I had my pancakes, the real question was how I would eat them. I still cannot eat with a knife and fork. But I found an ingenious solution, even if I say so myself: the pizza wheel! Maybe not your traditional Flemish little rolled pancake with brown sugar, these look more like Korean pajeon, but they were very tasty, and went down very well with the hot chocolate (which conveniently came out of the little packet from Trader Joe’s).

Pieces of a pancake with brown sugar sprinkled on the plate, cut with a pizza wheel, like pizza slices. All the right edge of the picture Facebook can be seen, in the top right corner the pizza will rests on the plate.
Pizza wheel to the rescue!

Apparently the groundhog has predicted another six weeks of winter. As long as someone can every now and then bring me a bottle of milk, I should be fine.

A car covered with snow, the snow comes up to the side of the car almost to the level of the rearview mirrors. You can barely see the car under the snow cover.
Clearly I’m not going anywhere for a while. Also, I can’t drive due to being functionally single-armed for the moment.