Pancakes are perhaps one of the easiest dishes to make. Easily assembled with a handful of standard household ingredients, the basic batter can be made in minutes. However, what makes the dish shine is not the pancake itself, but the filling. Whether you are a pile-em-high kind of person, or go down the route of roll-and-fill, what you serve with your pancakes is key. Pancakes are versatile in that they can be sweet, or served as something more savoury. The list below takes a look at what to serve with pancakes in order to bring out their best.
Sweet Pancake Fillings
1. Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter and Banana
Sometimes ingredients just click. The combination of chocolate and banana, with a hint of saltiness and crunchy texture given by the peanut butter gives a filling that is both sweet and a little savoury. Whilst not the best for the waistline, these are super as a ‘once in a while’ treat. The filling can be very rich, and there is massive potential for a ‘carb coma’… If you can manage more than 3 we’ll be surprised.
2. Sugar and lemon
Sometimes keeping your filling basic and light touch can be the best option. I really enjoy the zest of lemon with a sprinkle of sugar over my pancakes. Definitely the easiest option but one I thoroughly enjoy. You know what you’re getting every time with this.
3. Blueberry Pancakes
Whilst you can scatter a handful of blueberries as a garnish (along with lashings of syrup of course) The blueberry element is better incorporated within the pancake batter itself, as the pancake fries, the blueberries gently cook, releasing their fruity, jammy goodness. The addition of a teaspoon of baking powder will make your pancakes slightly more ‘puffy’, allowing your fruit to be fully encapsulated within the batter. Whatever weight of flour you have used, add about 30% of this in fresh blueberries to make the ideal ratio. Alternatively, in a pan, heat a cup of sugar with equal amounts of blueberries until they go all mushy for a lovely sticky sauce.
4. Banana and Brazil Nuts
It would appear that nuts and bananas go together quite well. When infused together in a sweet sauce they really shine. Mix two chopped up bananas with half a cup of sugar and throw in a handful of bashed up Brazil nuts. Add to a pan over a medium heat and stir continuously until the sugar melts and begins to turn a light straw colour. Serve directly over the top of a stack of pancakes or build an alternating layer cake and dish up in segments. Watch your fingers, melted sugar can be extremely hot.
5. Rhubarb Compote with Crème Fraiche
Traditionally pancakes are served with lemon juice and sugar, however if you want to add a touch of class and a bit of acidity rhubarb compote is just the ticket, it’s super easy too. Combine chopped rhubarb with some lemon juice and sugar (and maybe a touch of honey), then roast in a preheated oven for around 30 minutes. Once the rhubarb is cooked through and has lost its bite, add it to a pan over a medium heat, juice and all, and slowly stew until you have a thick sauce. Spoon liberally over the top of your pancakes with a good dollop of crème fraiche.
6. Crepe Suzette
Possibly the most famous pancake recipe of all time. The pancakes should ideally be made as thin as possible. The difference is that the citrus elements are combined with sugar and heated to make a slightly thicker sauce. Consider it a slightly more cooked version of the standard ‘lemon juice and sugar’. A mixture of orange juice, lemon and orange zest, sugar, butter and perhaps a spoon (or two) of orange liqueur is all this sauce contains. Heated slowly over a pan until combined should give a little ‘zap’ and citrus explosion.
Savory Pancake Fillings
7. Goat’s Cheese and Rosemary
Now this is what we call savoury. Goats cheese is normally quite strong in flavour and ever so slightly salty. Rosemary compliments the flavours beautifully too. If you mix a few sprigs of rosemary into the batter it will infuse with the other ingredients and the occasionally sprig, making contact with the pan during cooking, will give a lovely toasted flavour as the batter cooks. Fold in small cubes of goats cheese into the batter just before you ladle it into the pan, where it slowly melt and caramelise giving a soft, creamy texture.
8. Tomato and mushroom
This topping is proof that with just a few balanced ingredients you can make something magical. By frying equal amounts of tomatoes and mushrooms, in a tablespoon or so of oil, you can create a really super dish. Add a couple of tablespoons of cream and perhaps a small handful of pine nuts, just after the vegetables go soft (don’t forget the salt and pepper). You can liven this dish up further with some finely chopped onions or spoonful of chives.
9. Arnold Bennet Style
Smoked fish, crisp and creamy cheese, with a hint of onion. Savoury pancake heaven! This isn’t so much of a topping as a pancake bake. Once you have created your pancakes use them to line a baking dish. Spoon your Arnold Bennet filling onto them and top with another layer of pancakes and a little sauce. Bake until the top goes brown. OK, we know its more like a pie, but when you have served this up and are getting ready to tuck in, tell us that you still care.
10. Bacon and Egg Potato Pancakes
Bacon and eggs, with pancakes? Why not? You can opt for normal pancakes, but for something a bit more substantial add a couple of potatoes worth of mash to your batter and mix well. Cook both sides in exactly the same way as you would normal pancakes, until the bottoms are brown and crisp. The only thing you’ll have to decide on is whether you are going for red or brown sauce.
11. Spicy Vegetables Fajitas
Don’t be limited by a lack of wraps. Pancakes make the ideal home for a healthy (and maybe spicy) filling that is packed with flavour and texture. It’s good for vegetarians too. Combining the tang of tomatoes with a small chopped onion and whatever crunchy vegetables you can muster, add a large spoonful of low fat natural yoghurt and some chopped herbs. We won’t advise eating it with your fingers as it is a bit floppy.
Sweet or savoury… take your pick. Gone are the days of boring old jam or a spoonful of syrup to liven up what was once considered frugal food. As we’ve said, pancakes are truly versatile. Hopefully we’ve given you a couple of good ideas to turn something relatively ordinary into something extraordinary. Feel free to experiment, as standard pancakes are fairly neutral in taste, they make the perfect food to adapt with whatever you fancy. Now you know what goes with pancakes.