Shrove Tuesday is the one day of the year when many of us try and sometimes fail to make homemade pancakes.

[Read more: Meet the classically trained baker determined to make cakes cool again]

If you usually buy a ready-made mix, drop your pancake mid-flop or always manage to produce a thick stodgy mess, we’ve got some top tips from head chef at 5* hotel The Arch London, Gary Durrant. So you really can’t go wrong this year.

Head chef Garry Durrant
Head chef Gary Durrant (The Arch London)

 

Here are his pearls of pancake wisdom.

1. Pick a pancake style

Almost every country and culture has its own version of pancakes, from a Malaysian ‘Lempeng’ made with banana and coconut, to a French crepe, fat Canadian pancake stack, or classic British pancakes served with sugar and lemon.

The mixture for pancakes differs depending on the country’s readily available ingredients, such as corn in Venezuela, cabbage in Japan and rice in Nepal. All types of pancakes are relatively easy to make, so why not consider trying some different kinds to spice up your pancake day?

2. Use enough fat

 

If making traditional English pancakes, make sure to use plenty of fat to get the batter nice and crispy. If you use oil, then I recommend vegetable oil, and if you use butter, then clarified butter works best.

3. Get the timing right

Pancakes should usually only take about 2-3 minutes to cook, but it’s best to ignore the clock and check for bubbles on the top of the pancake which mean it’s ready to flip over. Make sure not to cook it for much longer than 2-3 minutes though, as the batter could dry out.

4. Get creative with your toppings

 

Pancakes are delicious both sweet and savoury, depending on your taste. They go very well with fresh fruit, chocolate and maple syrup, but equally well with ham, cheese and bacon for example. Try using different cheeses such as brie, ricotta, or blue cheese which taste amazing when melted inside a crispy pancake.

5. Use this technique

Don’t just dollop the mixture in with any old kitchen utensil. It’s helpful if you spoon the batter into the pan using a large ladle so it can be poured into the hot pan in one go. As soon as the batter hits the pan, tip it around from side to side to get the base evenly coated with a nice thin layer of batter.