Vegetarian food blog featuring delicious and nutritious whole food recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

Wholemeal Pancakes and Lots of Topping Ideas

Wholemeal Pancake topped with sticky blood oranges.

Pancakes & Waffles | 18th February 2020 | By

Traditional British pancakes are different to American style ones. They’re similar to French crêpes in that they’re large and thin with crispy edges. Add your topping of choice and then fold or roll them up. Wholemeal pancakes taste just as good if not better than those made with plain flour.

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The world loves a pancake and there are many different kinds. In Europe they’re traditionally eaten on Shrove Tuesday, known as Mardi Gras in France. Nowadays we tend to refer to this as Pancake Day here in the UK. Of course, we can eat pancakes on whatever day of the year we like and we frequently do. But it’s almost obligatory to eat them on Pancake Day.

Why Eat Pancakes on Shrove Tuesday?

Shrove Tuesday falls in February and is the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of Lent. The idea is to clear the house of all the fattening foods, such as eggs, milk and sugar before the forty day lenten fast begins. The tradition of eating pancakes continues, whether or not we observe Lent.

But Shrove Tuesday didn’t originally have anything to do with pancakes. It comes from the Christian practice to ‘shrive’, or do penance for one’s sins before Lent.

Pancake Day falls on the 25th of February this year.

Wholemeal Pancakes

I’ve only ever made wholemeal pancakes. This is mostly because they’re delicious and easy to prepare. But they’re also much better for you as the wholemeal flour contains fibre and is rich in vitamins and minerals. I usually, but not always, use wholemeal spelt flour.

And so to the method. Start by sieving the flour into a large bowl. I tend to throw any extra large bits of bran left in the sieve into the compost, but you can just tip them into the bowl with the flour if you prefer. Add the salt.

Make a well in the flour and break in the eggs. Stir from the inside out, adding the milk as you go until everything is well  mixed. Stir in the oil or melted butter. Rest the batter.

Heat a pan over a moderate heat and brush with melted butter or oil. I always use butter for frying pancakes. It just tastes better.

Pour in just enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan. You’ll need to swirl it around to cover it completely. But be careful, as you only need a thin layer.

Leave to cook for about three minutes. When it’s done, it should come loose when you give the pan a good shake. Either turn the pancake over with a wide spatula or toss it in the air. Just make sure you catch it. I highly recommend the first method. It will only need around thirty seconds to cook on the second side.

Depending on how nonstick your pan is, you may or may not need to brush it with butter or oil again. I always do, just to be on the safe side. Repeat the process.

Wholemeal Pancakes – Top Tips

The pancake batter doesn’t take long to make, but it’s best if it stands for thirty minutes before you actually start making the pancakes. This allows the glutens to develop which makes the batter more stable and the pancakes lighter. You don’t have to rest the batter before cooking, but it helps to stop the pancakes tearing or breaking up if you do.

How many pancakes you get will depend on the size of the pan you use. For eight pancakes, use a standard sized frying pan measuring around 24-26 cm. I’m not sure why but measurements for frying pans are taken on the diameter of the upper rim. Doesn’t really make much sense to me as it’s the bottom of the pan where you do the cooking. Mine measures 18cm, (7″) on the bottom.

The first side will look very different to the second side. So you can take your pick as to which side you want to show off.

Although it doesn’t take long to mix the batter, it will take a while to cook the pancakes as you have to do them one by one. It should take about half an hour to cook all eight pancakes. As soon as one is done, put it on a plate in a warm oven whilst you get on with the next one. Place the next one directly on top of the first one and continue until you’ve used up all the batter. You can then serve the pancakes all together.

Stack of British Wholemeal Pancakes.

Alternatively, serve each one as you cook them and let the recipient put their toppings on themselves.

Make Your Wholemeal Pancakes in a Blender

Although it’s really easy to make wholemeal pancakes by hand, you might find it even easier and faster to use a blender. There’s less washing up too. Just throw everything into the jug and blitz for thirty seconds or so. It’s still better to let the batter rest if you can though.

My glass jugged Froothie Evolve* is just brilliant. It can handle pancakes and pretty much anything else you care to throw at it. If you’re interested in finding out more about this amazing power blender, here’s a link to my Froothie Evolve review.

Can You Freeze Wholemeal Pancakes?

Pancakes will keep in the fridge for a few days, but they also freeze really well. Just line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Lay the pancakes on it individually and freeze for an hour or until fully frozen. Then stack together and place inside a freezer bag. Best eaten within two months.

When you want to use them, defrost, then heat each one briefly in a hot nonstick frying pan.

What’s The Difference Between American, French and British Pancakes?

American Style Pancakes

American pancakes are very similar to drop scones or Scotch pancakes. They’re small, thick and fluffy and are usually served for breakfast. You need a raising agent to make them and they usually contain sugar in the batter.

French Style Pancakes

Called crêpes in France, these pancakes are large, thin and flat. They contain no sugar, nor raising agent so are very different to American ones. They’re often made with buckwheat flour, rather than wheat flour. This is particularly true in Brittany where they’re sometimes called galettes.

British Style Pancakes

As stated at the beginning British pancakes are similar to French crêpes, but they’re not as large nor quite as fine and lacy. They’re crispy around the edges, but pliable and quite substantial which makes them ideal for rolling up or folding into halves or even quarters. They’re not, traditionally eaten for breakfast, but are generally made for tea, dessert or as part of the evening meal. And most people would expect to get two pancakes.

English Wholemeal Pancakes

Wholemeal Pancake Fillings and Toppings

Traditionally we Brits like to top our pancakes with a sprinkling of sugar and a squeeze of lemon. We roll them up tight, then tuck into them with a knife and fork or eat with our hands. But, good as this is, don’t feel it’s the only way to go.

Wholemeal Pancake topped with sticky blood oranges.

The possibilities for fillings and toppings are endless and it’s not all about the sweet stuff either. Savoury pancakes are just as good. When I was growing up, we’d often have savoury pancakes for our main course followed by sugar and lemon ones for pudding.

I’d love to know what your favourite fillings are. But meanwhile here are a few suggestions for you.

Sweet Fillings

Three rolled chocolate, honey and cream pancakes on a plate.

Savoury Fillings

Pancake wraps with spicy dhal.

Keep in Touch

Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make these wholemeal pancakes, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them. And let us know what your favourite toppings are.

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Sticky Blood Orange Wholemeal Pancakes. PIN IT.

Sticky Blood Orange Wholemeal Pancake.

Wholemeal Pancakes with Sticky Blood Oranges – The Recipe

Wholemeal Pancake topped with sticky blood oranges.
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5 from 3 votes

British Style Wholemeal Pancakes with Optional Sticky Blood Orange

Traditional pancakes made with wholemeal spelt flour. They're easy to make and taste just as good if not better than those made with plain flour. Add your filling or topping of choice or try this sticky blood orange instead.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Resting Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr 5 mins
Course: Afternoon Tea, Dessert
Cuisine: British
Keyword: blood oranges, pancakes, wholemeal flour, wholemeal spelt flour
Servings: 8 pancakes
Calories: 103kcal

Ingredients

Pancakes

  • 115 g (4oz) wholemeal spelt flour
  • pinch fine sea or rock salt
  • 2 eggs - medium to large
  • 240 ml (8 fl oz) milk
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • a little unsalted butter or oil for frying (optional) this will depend on how nonstick your nonstick pan is

Sticky Blood Orange (for one)

  • 1 blood oranges
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

Instructions

  • Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl. Discard any extra large bits of bran left in the sieve if liked. Otherwise, throw them into the bowl.
  • Make a well in the centre and break in the eggs.
  • Stir from the inside out, adding the milk as you go along until all of the flour is mixed in.
  • Add the oil and whisk thoroughly.
  • Leave to stand for 30 minutes.
  • Turn the oven on to its lowest setting and place a plate inside to warm up.
  • Warm a medium sized frying pan (mine is 18cm (7") measured at the base) on a medium heat (I set mine to 3 out of a possible 5).
  • Depending on how good a non-stick pan it is, you may or may not want to brush it with a little oil. I add a tiny peice of butter to mine.
  • Pour in 3-4 tablespoons of batter. You want just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Tilt the pan so the batter covers the bottom in a thin layer.
  • Cook for about three minutes, then turn the pancake over with a wide spatula and cook on the other side for a further 30 seconds.
  • Turn out onto the warm plate and put back in the oven. Alternativley you can serve it immediately and let the recipient put the toppings on.
  • Repeat the process until all the batter is used up, stacking the cooked pancakes on top of each other. You should get eight pancakes if you make them in a medium sized pan.

Sticky Blood Oranges (optional)

  • Cut the peel away from the orange so that no pith remains. Then segment it, taking away as much of the skin and any remaining pith as you can. Do this over a bowl so that you catch any escaping juice.
  • Place the orange segments with any remaining juice in a pan along with the maple syrup. Cook over a moderate heat, stirring occassionally until most of the syrup has disappeared and you're left with a delicoius sticky mess. This will take about five minutes.

Notes

Aim for two pancakes per person, though this will obviously depend on what else, if anything is going to be eaten.
 
Scale the sticky blood oranges up to the number of people who want them on their pancakes. It's one orange per pancake.
 
You don't have to rest the batter for 30 minutes before cooking, but it helps to stop the pancakes tearing or breaking up if you do. It allows the glutens to develop which hold the batter together.
 
Although it's really easy to make wholemeal pancakes by hand, you might find it even easier and faster to use a blender. There's less washing up too. Just throw everything into the jug and blitz for thirty seconds or so. It's still better to let the batter rest if you can though.
 
Please note: calories and other nutritional information are per pancake. They're approximate and will depend on exact ingredients used. Sticky blood orange not included.

Nutrition

Calories: 103kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 29mg | Potassium: 107mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 124IU | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 1mg

Sharing

I’m sharing these wholemeal pancakes with A Strong Coffee for #CookBlogShare.

This post contains affiliate links to Froothie Optimum products*. Links are marked with an *. If you buy through a link it won’t cost you any more, but I’ll get a small commission. Thanks to my readers for supporting the brands and organisations that help to keep Tin and Thyme blithe and blogging.

20 Comments

  1. Marcelle

    18th February 2020 at 7:06 pm

    So many fillings, so little time! Your British-style pancakes look fantastic and they are used like tortillas or crepes here in the U.S. I will definitely try these. Savory pancakes filled with chickpeas, eggplant and tomatoes sounds amazing!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      19th February 2020 at 7:57 am

      Yes absolutely used like tortillas, only with a few more calories in them! Savoury pancakes are my favourite.

      Reply
  2. angiesrecipes

    19th February 2020 at 3:40 am

    I too also made some pancakes for breakfast. Love this healthier version with wholemeal and I love to load mine with lots of seasonal fruit.

    Reply
    • Choclette

      19th February 2020 at 7:58 am

      Fruit is always a good topping for pancakes, especially if you have them for breakfast.

      Reply
  3. sherry

    19th February 2020 at 4:17 am

    yes i like my pancakes thin and crispy. so yes like french crepes really. i’ve never really cottoned on to those thick american style pancakes…

    Reply
    • Choclette

      19th February 2020 at 8:00 am

      Oh, they’re definitely worth trying Sherry. We call them drop scones or scotch pancakes and though they’re slightly different to the American ones, they’re close enough.

      Reply
  4. annette

    19th February 2020 at 12:41 pm

    would it work replacing some of the wholemeal spelt with buckwheat a la galettes ?

    Reply
    • Choclette

      19th February 2020 at 5:19 pm

      Yes it absolutely would. I sometimes use 100% buckwheat flour, so I’m pretty sure any mix would be fine. But do let me know.

      Reply
  5. Leslie

    19th February 2020 at 7:23 pm

    We would make crêpes all the time in my French class in high school and they were delicious! I didn’t know they were similar to British style pancakes. Makes sense. Would love to try these!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      20th February 2020 at 7:10 am

      Now that sounds like a really fun French class. Wish we’d done something like that.

      Reply
  6. Cheese Curd In Paradise

    20th February 2020 at 4:22 am

    I love these thin pancakes! The blood orange filling is delicious and the citrus flavors are a perfect match with these pancakes for breakfast!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      20th February 2020 at 7:11 am

      It’s funny how traditions vary. These sorts of pancakes are something we’re more likely to have in the evening than the morning.

      Reply
  7. Guy R

    22nd February 2020 at 4:42 am

    If you sieve out the bran they’re not really wholemeal are they? They’re what we used to call 85%.

    Reply
    • Choclette

      22nd February 2020 at 11:59 am

      Good point Guy. I only sieve out the really big bits because I use stoneground flour which tends not to grind it as fine most wholemeal flours. So it’s more like 98% wholemeal. But it’s entirely optional and very much depends on the type of bake I make. For example, large pieces of bran tend to inhibit cakes from rising. Having said that, I made a batch of brownies the other day and dumped the whole lot in.

      I probably need to clarify.

      Reply
  8. Michelle - Lost in Food

    24th February 2020 at 4:50 pm

    So many pancake recipes to try! Must add these to my list to work my way through them – hardship I know!:-) I do love the addition of blood oranges, such a short season but so good. Thanks for linking up to #CookBlogShare. Michelle

    Reply
    • Choclette

      25th February 2020 at 5:15 am

      So many indeed. I’m just now wondering what to have in our pancakes tonight. And I’m also hoping to post another blood orange pancake recipe this morning.

      Reply
  9. Louise Fairweather

    24th February 2020 at 8:04 pm

    Love the ideas for savoury pancakes. I never know what to do and stick to cheese and ham – no more! Thanks for sharing #cookblogshare

    Reply
    • Choclette

      25th February 2020 at 5:17 am

      I’m thinking black bean, sweet potato and broccoli for tonight’s pancakes. But haven’t made a final decision yet.

      Reply
  10. Eb Gargano | Easy Peasy Foodie

    25th February 2020 at 1:31 pm

    I love wholemeal pancakes! I do tend to make the traditional refined white flour pancakes for pancake day, but I particularly like wholemeal pancakes with savoury fillings. I especially love them with mushroom and gruyere or spicy beans! Eb x

    Reply
    • Choclette

      25th February 2020 at 1:45 pm

      Savoury pancakes are my favourite and definitely with wholemeal pancakes. Strangely I was planning on spicy beans for tonight’s pancakes, but now I’m very tempted by your mushroom and gruyere.

      Reply

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