Batter heaven at the Café at Field & Fawcett
- Credit: Archant
If you’re flippin’ fed up of your usual pancakes, here are a few other batter-related bits and bobs to get your teeth into.
February is a month that requires copious amounts of comfort food. The days are short, the weather’s dank but, on the plus side, at least there are only 28 sleeps until spring starts to make its presence known.
Shrove Tuesday is, frankly, a blessed highlight, combining comforting rounds of buttery batter with something tooth-achingly sweet on top. Heaven. But do we really have to wait until February 28th slowly grinds round to enjoy a hit of spirit-lifting comfort?
Of course not. Pancake Day is not the only batter-related celebration we’ve got to look forward to in February. There’s also British Yorkshire Pudding Day on February 5th and Batter Appreciation Week (which is something we’ve just made up so we can have fish and chips on a daily basis).
It might not be the healthiest choice on the menu or, indeed, something we’d recommend you indulge in every day but, as an occasional treat, you really can’t beat a good coating of batter on, well, pretty much anything.
Cathryn Fawcett, who runs The Café at Field & Fawcett on the outskirts of York, knows a thing or two about batter. She works alongside chef Lee Milnes to create home-cooked, classic dishes, including pancakes (both sweet and savoury), battered haddock, onion rings and impressive Yorkshire puddings that tower over the plate like batter monuments.
‘We like our batter to be light and fresh, so we regularly make a batch and use it that same day,’ said Cathryn. ‘Yorkshire pudding batter is best rested for a minimum of 30 minutes or up to a day, but pancake batter makes the most fluffy and delicious pancakes when used after a few minutes.
‘While we don’t measure every Yorkshire pudding that leaves the kitchen, we endeavour to work with a rule of thumb that a good pudding should achieve around four inches in height. It brings a bit of drama to a meal and we do enjoy the spontaneous appreciation we get from our customers when we put a fabulous roast with a towering Yorkshire in front of them.’
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Field & Fawcett started out ten years ago as an award-winning wine merchant and deli, run by Cathryn and her husband Peter at Grimston Bar on Hull Road. They opened The Café last summer, serving fresh, seasonal food from early morning until late afternoon.
‘This is our first February at The Café and I’m looking forward to celebrating the month with a menu that’s both comforting and satisfying,’ said Cathryn. ‘For me, that means batter dishes that are light and delicate in flavour.’
If your batter doesn’t tend to rise to the occasion (barely topping four millimetres, never mind four inches), she recommends using only the freshest ingredients and utilising a few essential pieces of inexpensive kitchen kit.
‘We only use large free range eggs, as these are ideal for a great batter,’ she said. ‘For fish batter, a large metal balloon whisk is essential because you want to try and draw the sieved flour into the mixture briskly.
‘Lee’s beer batter is fast gaining a name for itself. A key piece of advice from him is to always use chilled beer. We always team it with sustainably sourced haddock too because its slightly sweeter flavour works well with the beer.’
Now that we’ve got your tummy well and truly rumbling, here are a few recipes from Cathryn and Lee to ensure your batter is better (if not the best).
The Café at Field & Fawcett is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm and on Saturday from 9am to 4pm. For further details, visit fieldandfawcett.co.uk
Let’s make a batter world
Pancake Day, Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday (blunt but fair) is celebrated all around the world with fun, games and extraordinary amounts of batter.
In Australia, pancakes are thick and quite dense (more like crumpets than their flatter, thinner British cousins) and are generally served with butter, jam or cream.
The Danes indulge on the Sunday before Lent on a day known as Fastelavn. Instead of pancakes, they favour buns with the middle scooped out and filled with cream and jam. Everyone dresses up, enjoys hot chocolate (occasionally the adults partake in something a little stronger) and meet up to play ‘hit the cat out of the barrel’, which is not as brutal as it used to be (the moggy has now been replaced by sweets).
In Sweden, Shrove Tuesday is known as Fettisdagen (Fat Tuesday), which is understandable as people fill their faces with round icing sugar-covered buns filled to bursting with marzipan and whipped cream.
Canadians like to bake symbolic objects – coins, wedding rings, buttons and the odd bit of string – into their Shrove Tuesday pancakes in the hope of finding wealth, a partner, new clothes or, who knows, perhaps a kite? Typical toppings include syrup, sausages and partridgeberry jam.
In France, Shrove Tuesday is part of Mardi Gras and is also known as Fat Tuesday, referring to an ancient custom of parading a fat ox through Paris to remind residents not to eat meat during Lent (although you could argue that the sight of a fat ox is counterproductive as it makes you long for a juicy steak all the more).
The French also eat pancakes on Candlemas Day, accompanied by a traditional saying: ‘Eating crepes on Candlemas Day will bring a year of happiness’.
Pancake Day in Poland is more commonly known as Sledziowka (sledz are herring, so no prizes for guessing what the Poles like to eat).
How do you celebrate Pancake Day and, more importantly, what’s your favourite topping? Share your thoughts with us at email@example.com or on Twitter @Yorkshire_Life.