Blini-esque American-style pancakes (made with a touch of leaven)

Some people worry about being wasteful when discarding old leaven at each and every refreshment. This simple solution may not suit you on a daily basis, but it’s a delicious way to use up something you might otherwise have thrown away.

Makes 6 large thick pancakes

125g plain flour (not strong white flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tablespoons caster sugar
4 eggs (60g size), separated
50g – 100g leaven
175g milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted

1. In a small bowl mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and sugar). In a small jug whisk together the egg yolks, leaven and milk. Then add the melted butter, and finally mix the liquid through the dry ingredients, beating well, until you have a soft thick batter. Keep the egg whites refrigerated until needed.

2. Cover and leave in the refrigerator for at least an hour (or overnight, if you want them for breakfast, in which case you might want to reduce the amount of sour starter, as the mixture will ferment slightly and develop a stronger taste. That’s great for a savoury pancake, maybe with kippers and butter sauce, but if you do this, remember to reduce the sugar by half).

3. Heat your flat griddle, or non-stick frying pan, until it is hot, and lightly grease it with a little melted butter brushed over the surface. As with all pancake making, you’ll need to test the pan with the first dollop of batter. Sometimes you get it right first-time, other days, well…

4. Beat the egg whites with a whisk until they form soft peaks (when you lift the whisk out of the bowl). Fold them through the batter mixture until they have evenly dispersed. With a ladle, pour a dollop of the batter into the centre of the frying pan (or griddle) and leave it to cook for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. You should see small air bubble form on the surface, and the upper edge of the pancake should have very slightly set.

5. Now is the moment of truth. Slide a clean spatula (or a fish slice) under the pancake. With a deft flick of the wrist, flip the pancake over. The cooked side of the pancake should be a good golden brown. If it is too dark, reduce the heat. If it is very light (or if the pancake sticks) it could be that the temperature is too low. Cautiously increase the heat, and try another one. When the temperature is correct, you should be able to bake 3 or 4 at once (not too big, though).

6. Then taste it. Make any adjustments (sweetness, moistness of the batter) to the recipe, as this will vary according to the condition of your sour, and the type of flour you choose to use. Sometimes, a punnet of blueberries stirred through before baking makes them a bit special. But save that for those days on your own, or together with a friend.