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Whisks at the ready! It’s Pancake Day and Tracy Carroll discusses ‘crêpes’ with French chef Laurent Pacaud from award-winning Warlingham restaurant-with-rooms, Chez Vous.

Laurent Pacaud has fond boyhood memories of celebrating Pancake Day (or ‘Chandeleur’ as it’s called in France) in his native Nantes in South Britanny. 

“Mum used to make pancakes for me, my two brothers and 10 friends. We were known as the pancake house and she used to make about 100 pancakes. It was a really big deal,” he recalls.

Although the chef has lived in Surrey for more than 30 years, Laurent keeps up the family tradition and now enjoys making pancakes for his own children.

“They love the classic ‘crêpe jambon fromage’, which is a pancake filled with ham, cheese and egg,” he explains. “To do this you fry eggs, allowing one per person, then put a pancake back in the frying pan. Add a slice of cheese, some ham and finally top it with an egg. Fold the pancake to make it look like a square with just the yolk appearing in the centre.”

Here, Laurent – who has made thousands of pancakes over the years – shares his top tips:

  • Put a little beer in the mix – it will help make a lighter batter and give flavour to your pancakes.
  • Add 40g of ‘beurre noisette’ to the batter to give it a lovely buttery flavour and help stop the pancakes from sticking. It is simple to make this special butter – just put about 40g of salted butter in a frying pan and warm until it is bubbling and colouring a little. When you add it to your pancake batter, quickly beat it in.
  • To cook pancakes, put some oil in a pot and use a piece of kitchen paper to wipe it around the pan before pouring in the batter. The best cooking oil to use is one which has very little flavour – sunflower or a plain vegetable oil both work well. You can also use butter – wrap a knob of butter in a piece of kitchen paper then wipe this round the warm pan, so the melted butter seeps through the paper. It’s a good way to glaze the pan with butter without overdoing it.
  • Before you start cooking, ensure the pan is hot but not smoking, then pour in a little batter. Turn the pan so the batter covers the base and cook until it is slightly coloured. Flip the pancake and colour the other side.
  • Flipping pancakes takes practice! It’s great for entertaining the kids, but if you want to be sure the pancake lands back in the pan and not on the floor, slide a spatula under the pancake then gently flip it over.

Click here for Laurent's classic French pancake recipe - and don't forget to show us if you make them on Shrove Tuesday!

Tags: surrey food Chez Vous pancakes Shrove Tuesday Pancake Day