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Around the World in 17 Pancakes

pancake-earth

In the UK we need little excuse to celebrate food. We love fish and chips on a Friday, pizzas and kebabs on a Saturday (or Sunday, depending on what time the pub is kicking out), roast dinners on a Sunday and curry on…well any day of the week.

A particular Tuesday in February is extra special, though. For this day – regardless of diet or eating habits – is when we embrace our fondness of pancakes.

Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day) is the day preceding Ash Wednesday – the first day of Lent. With 40 days of fasting ahead, Shrove Tuesday is traditionally the last blowout – a chance to eat whatever you want and as much of it as you can possibly handle…so long as it's pancakes, of course.

Incidentally, the reason pancakes are the meal of choice on February 9th is because of a need to get rid of all the eggs, milk and sugar in the kitchen before Lent. Whisked together and cooked in pan, those ingredients (along with flour) just so happen to result in a flat, round batter cake.

With Pancake Day just around the corner, we’ve decided to track down some of the best pancake recipes from around the world. And when you’re scouring the world for recipes, what better route to take than Michael Palin’s iconic trip around the world in 80 days?

Whether your trip around the globe hinges on the quality of pancakes found in different countries, or you wish to indulge in some exotic recipes this Shrove Tuesday, let us take you on a journey of exploration – around the world in 17 sweet and savoury recipes.

United Kingdom

Made using plain flour, eggs and milk, we Brits tend to like our pancakes topped with sugar and lemon juice. Syrup is also a popular choice of topping, as is banana, pecan nuts and maple apple. 

marry-berry-pancakes

Photo: Telegraph

Easy pancakes by Mary Berry

France

Across the English Channel in France, pancakes are known as crepes – they’re sometimes known as that in the UK too, if you visit the right places. Crepes are as tasty with sweet fillings such as jam, fruit, chocolate or whipped cream, as they are with cheese and sautéed vegetables.

french-crepes

Photo: All Recipes

Delicious crepes recipe 

Switzerland

Across the Alps we go to the land of chocolate and watches. A larger and slightly thicker version of French crepes, the Swiss pancake can be enjoyed plain, but is best served folded with a tasty jam or chocolate filling. 

swiss-pancakes

Photo: Perfect Pancake

Swiss pancakes in 13 minutes

Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein, it would seem, has declined the opportunity to create a batter-based pancake recipe of its own. The pancake of choice in this here fairytale country is made from potatoes, vinegar and garlic. Not the sort of thing you’d serve with whipped cream and chocolate but tasty nonetheless and they go surprisingly well with cinnamon and stewed fruit. 

potato-pancakes

Photo: Food Network

Yukon potato pancakes recipe

Austria

You just know that Austria has some killer pancakes – do you think Mozart, Sigmund Freud and Strauss would settle for anything less?! The Austrian version of a pancake is called Kaiserschmarrn after Kaiser Franz Joseph I of Austria, who apparently couldn’t get enough of them. They’re fluffy, caramelised and served with raisins, nuts and apples – very moreish.

kaiserschmarrn

Photo: Food52.com

Kaiserschmarrn – The Emperor’s Breakfast

Italy

On to Italy and a return to the more traditional pancake recipe. Pancakes here are typically eaten with with left-over food and are popular all-year round, not just at Mardi Gras. Serve these with anything you want – sweet or savoury.

italian-pancakes

Photo: Channel 4

Italian-style pancakes recipe

Greece

As with many things from Greece, the pancake dish ‘tiganites’ is thought to be the first documented pancake in the world. If it was, it set the bar pretty high in terms of taste. You can have a plate of these made in less than half-an-hour and ready to serve with warm honey and walnuts.

greek-pancakes

Photo: My Greek Dish

Homemade tiganites recipe

Egypt

Right, that’s Europe done, time to sample the delights of Northern Africa and the Middle East. Pancakes in Egypt are hard to come by, but ‘So You Think You Can Pancake’ managed to find one appetising recipe. These croissant-like pancakes are best served with honey and powdered sugar.

egyptian-pancakes

Photo: Think Pancake

Pancake like an Egyptian 

Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Arabians know a good pancake when they see one…well, going by this recipe they do. The key ingredients here are ground cardamom and roasted almonds. Serve with butter-flavoured syrup and a fresh mug of Arabic coffee and you’ve got a winning breakfast.

arabic-pancake-mix

Photo: Group Recipes

Arabic almond pancakes recipe

Qatar

A treat of choice during Ramadan, Atayef are simple pancakes that are typically stuffed with cream, dipped in ground pistachios and drizzled with syrup. Atayef or atayef asafiri (a mini version) are unique in that are only cooked on one side, leaving the flip side all bubbly and velvety. Delicious!

chef-in-disguise-atayef

Photo: Chef in Disguise

The ultimate Arabic pancake recipe

UAE

It will be a struggle to part yourself from the Arabian Peninsula after sampling some of the pancakes on offer here. A sweet pudding to be eaten after a Middle-Eastern-inspired dinner, these orange-flower syrup and pistachio adorned pancakes by Nigella offer the perfect treat. 

orange-syrup-pancakes

Photo: Nigella

After-dinner pancake treat recipe

India

If you’re looking for a pancake with a difference, uttapam could be the recipe of choice. It’s the extra ingredients that make this unique; without them uttapam is just a larger, thicker version of a standard pancake. Onions, tomatoes, chillies, vegetables and coriander leaves are all added during cooking to create a full-blown meal of a pancake.

uttapam

Photo: Food Viva

Uttapam pancakes recipe

Singapore

Time to travel across the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea to the island city-state of Singapore, where pancakes are a popular afternoon tea snack. Roti Jala, or ‘net bread’ is a soft and chewy pancake that goes well with curries and Asian stews. Roll them up or fold into triangles, choose a good dip and you’ve got a wonderful treat. 

roti-jala-net-bread

Photo: QL Kitchen

Roti Jala pancakes recipe

Hong Kong

Okay, so they don’t look like pancakes, but let us assure you they taste very much like them. Egg cakes, egg waffles, eggettes, Hong Kong pancakes – call them what you want, these semi-spherical, egg-based batter shapes might well become your new favourite food. Hong Kong’s number one street food snack, egg cakes are best served hot. No fillings or toppings needed – they’re that good!

egg-cakes

Photo: Ginger and Scotch

Chinese egg cakes recipe

China

You won’t ever see these on the menu at your local Chinese takeaway, but rest assured the People’s Republic love them some pancakes. Scallion pancakes are crispy, but not in the Findus sense. They are like a flatbread that's made from dough rather than batter and are best served with a generous helping of soy sauce.

chinese-pancakes

Photo: Zesty South Indian Kitchen

Chinese Scallion pancakes recipe

Japan

If you’ve ever watched Takeshi’s Castle you’ll know that Japan has a unique way of doing things.  Okonomiyaki, which literally means “grilled as you like it”, is pancake-like batter mixed with shredded cabbage. From there it’s a free-for-all, anything goes. Choose a topping and slap it on.

okonomiyaki-pancakes

Photo: No Recipes

Grilled as you like recipe

USA

What better way to finish a round the world pancake trip than good ol’ US of A – the home of pancakes. Thick and fluffy in texture, thanks to the not-that-surprising key ingredient of baking powder, stack these high and serve them with butter, syrup and - somewhat strangely to us Brits -bacon.

buttermilk-pancakes

Photo: Cooking Classy

American-style buttermilk pancakes recipe

What are your favourite pancake recipes? Let us know in the comments.

In the UK we need little excuse to celebrate food. We love fish and chips on a Friday, pizzas and kebabs on a Saturday (or Sunday, depending what time the pub is kicking out), roast dinners on a Sunday and curry on…well any day of the week really.

A particular Tuesday in February is extra special, though. For this day – regardless of diet or eating habits – is when we embrace our fondness of pancakes.