The World’s Best Pancakes
It’s that time of year again: the last Tuesday before Lent, Shrove Tuesday, aka, Pancake Day. All across the country, families will be whipping up batches of pancakes and attempting to flip them without making a mess. In honour of the day, we’ve scoured the globe for the very best pancakes you’ll ever taste. Think lashings of maple syrup, meats and vegetables (though not all at once), or perhaps you prefer the simple lemon and sugar variety? Whatever your preference, we hope you enjoy our selection of the world’s best pancakes.
Buttermilk pancakes, USA and Canada
North Americans love to eat pancakes for breakfast. Forget the thin British versions, here pancakes are thick, fluffy, and often served in giant stacks. Baking powder is added to give them volume, plus buttermilk and sometimes pieces of fruit dropped into the batter itself. Popular varieties include blueberry pancakes, and they’re often accompanied by huge dollops of butter, fruit, peanut butter or bacon. Cinnamon sugar is a decadent addition too, as is ice cream and chocolate syrup, especially when the pancake is served as a dessert. Try them anywhere in the USA and Canada, although the Denny’s restaurant chain comes highly recommended by our Experts.
Crêpes in France
Did you even go to France if you didn’t sample a crêpe or two while you were there? These ultra-thin pancakes are sold on almost every street corner in the country, where they’re freshly made right in front of you using a circular hotplate and a specially-designed wooden batter spreader. They’re then folded up with all manner of fillings inside, from fresh fruit, cream and jam to cheese, eggs and ham, with popular choices being crêpes Suzette (flambéed with butter, orange juice and Grand Marnier) and the French favourite Nutella, which melts inside the pancake, making for a gooey chocolatey treat.
Poffertjes in the Netherlands
I tucked into these mini morsels, known as Poffertjes, in Café T’Smalle, one of Amsterdam’s famous, and very atmospheric ‘brown cafés’. Cooked up in a special cast iron pan called a poffertjespan, containing small holes which are filled with batter, Poffertjes contain yeast, giving them a soft, light texture. I had mine served with melted butter and icing sugar (and a beer!), but they can also be sprinkled with Gouda cheese – the perfect accompaniment to your morning coffee.
Kimchijeon in South Korea
Otherwise known as kimchi pancakes, Kimchijeon have sliced kimchi (spiced pickled vegetables, often cabbage or radish) added to a flour and egg batter and fried in a skillet until crispy. Sometimes, other ingredients such as pork, scallions or chilli are added. This is a slightly sour, savoury dish, usually eaten as a snack or a starter and served with a soy and vinegar-based dipping sauce. Kimchi pancakes are very common, with most restaurants in South Korea serving them in some form.
Banana pancake in Thailand
If you’ve ever been to Thailand, or pretty much anywhere in Southeast Asia, you’ll probably have tried a banana pancake. This ubiquitous dish features on every breakfast menu going, and is a common find at street-food stalls too, mainly because it’s super cheap and easy and everyone loves it. Made from a simple batter, spread thinly, filled with chopped banana and egg and folded, these pancakes taste even better when slathered in chocolate sauce.
Pancakes with maple syrup, Canada
Yes, pancakes with maple syrup gets its very own entry, purely so I can share another mouth-watering photo. You simply wouldn’t be in Canada if you didn’t cover your pancake in maple syrup; our Expert Alex tucked into these beauties onboard Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer. The cake-like texture of Canadian pancakes soaks up the maple syrup a treat, and tastes even better if you offset the sweetness with a few rashers of bacon. Mmmm.
Okonomiyaki in Japan
A Japanese savoury pancake made with flour, egg and cabbage, Okonomiyaki translates as “how you like” (okonomi) and “grill” (yaki), which means you can top it with anything you fancy. Added ingredients vary from region to region, but the Kansai version is the most common, with yam, dashi, shredded cabbage, onion, pork belly, octopus, squid, vegetables and cheese added to the batter. The cooked pancake is then served with okonomiyaki sauce (a thick and sweet sauce made with oyster sauce, Worcester sauce and sugar), seaweed flakes, bonito flakes, Japanese mayonnaise and pickled ginger.
Blini in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus
Made from buckwheat flour, soured milk and yeast, which makes them a little thicker than a crêpe, blini are often served with sour cream, caviar or butter, and accompanied by a vodka or two. They come in all shapes and sizes but my favourite is the bite-size version, topped with cream cheese and smoked salmon. Each year in Russia, in the week before Lent, blini are celebrated in Maslenitsa, also known as Pancake Week, when they are eaten in abundance.
Appam in India
India serves up a list of pancakes as long as your arm. Sometimes made with sugar, sometimes gram flour, pancakes can be sweet or savoury. Popular options include uttapam, a thick pancake made with fermented rice and black lentil mixed with spices and chopped onions, dosa, which is paper-thin and often stuffed with spiced potato or paneer, and appam, which is made from coconut milk and popular in Kerala, where it is used to mop up the sauce from your curry.
Pancakes with lemon and sugar, UK
There may be thousands of combinations of pancake topping out there, but in Britain, the most popular of all is simply sprinkled with sugar and drizzled in lemon juice. Here, our pancakes are made with flour, eggs and milk whisked into a thin batter, then fried in a hot pan on one side. The pancake is then flipped over to cook the other side – the difficulty of flipping the pancake without dropping it or sticking it to the ceiling is all part of the fun!