Pancakes vs Crepes vs Pikelets
Everyone loves a good pancake. But then there’s crepes. And something called a pikelet. Are they the same? Are they different? In today’s post i’ll take a look at pancakes vs crepes vs pikelets and show you why they’re different and how to make each one. There’s a couple of recipe suggestions as well.
Most often you’ll find that the differences between pancakes vs crepres vs pikelets come from the different regions or countries where the recipes were originally from. Pancakes are American, crepes are French and pikelets are from the United Kingdom (with its origins being Welsh).
There’s also differences based on how people changed the recipe to suit their own tastes and shared their version with others. Families pass on recipes or chefs reinvented an older more traditional recipe. It could just be that ingredients are sold slightly differently in different parts of the world so you end up making the dish a different way. A great example of this is the types of flours used by ancient peoples, as each region had its own types of grain that were milled. Therefore some recipes use wheat flour, others use buckwheat and some use rye flour, for example.
What are pancakes?
They are most often made from wheat flour, like in this traditional pancake recipe. You can also make buckwheat pancakes and other types such as the Banana Oat Blender pancakes (which I now make all the time). Often people also make pancakes using buttermilk instead of regular milk as it provides a slightly different taste that is preferable in pancakes.
How do I cook them?
Generally, pancake batter is thick because you don’t want it to slide around the pan too much. You want to pop the batter into the centre of the pan and let it cook through until bubbles appear on the top, then flip it over. If the batter is too thin (it runs around the pan too easily) then you’re really making crepes. I usually use about a 1/2 cup of batter per pancake.
When making pancakes you want to see air bubbles forming and popping in the top of the batter. Pancakes can be heavy so if you’re not sure if they’re ready to flip, look for lots of bubbles. Leave them cooking for a minute or two longer before you flip if you’re not sure. If you flip too early you run the risk of sending the spatula through the pancake or slopping batter off to the sides and all over your cooktop.
Keep the heat on medium high. A high heat scorches the pancakes, but get it too low and they’ll never firm up. This is particularly important when you’re using flours other than wheat flour. If you have added any sugar or honey to help glue the pancake batter together (in your non-gluten versions) the pancake will brown faster so keep the heat low.
The main difference between pancakes vs crepes vs pikelets is that pancakes have a raising agent included in them, such as baking powder. You should be using self-raising flour to make pancakes because it has baking powder in it. Or use plain flour and add 1-2 teaspoons of baking powder if you don’t have any self-raising on hand. Add baking powder to the non-wheat versions too.
What are crepes?
Crepes are a much thinner and usually larger version of a pancake. Crepes are often served in France as a dessert rather than at breakfast like pancakes. Because crepes are thin they are usually easy to roll or fold so are served with many different things inside them. Some are savoury, some are sweet.
How do I cook them?
Crepe batter needs to be very thin, so extra milk and/or water is added. This means the batter is quite runny, and will easily run around the pan. When making a crepe you put the batter in the middle of the pan, then swirl the pan around in clockwise or anticlockwise direction so that the batter spreads to the sides of the pan. This will give a dinner plate size crepe.
Because crepes are much thinner they will usually cook faster. To turn over a crepe you need to wait until the top has changed from being runny to firm. The sides of the crepe often come away from the sides of the pan too, so look out for this as another clue. Before flipping give the pan a few shakes so the crepe loosens from the bottom of the pan, making it easier to get the spatula in and under the crepe.
Make crepes with plain flour because they don’t need to rise. Here is the basic crepe recipe (thought I reckon you’ll need to add more milk to make the batter thinner). This recipe uses the traditional sugar and lemon juice topping (you can skip the brandy if you don’t like it or want it). Here’s a list of ideas for making both sweet and savoury crepes. You’ve got everything there from medium rare steak, to crepe cakes, to scrambled eggs and bacon in crepes and crepes with honey and peaches.
No matter whether you’re making pancakes, crepes or pikelets always remember to gradually add the flour to the liquid so that you don’t get a lumpy consistency. A little bit of care now makes for a far better result later (especially with crepes because they’re so thin).
What are pikelets?
Pikelets are like mini pancakes because they are thick like pancakes, but much smaller. Pikelets are usually small circles about the diameter of a coffee mug. They are also usually eaten for afternoon tea with jam and cream, or butter and honey.
Because pikelets are smaller you can eat more of them. You can also use them like smaller pieces of toast, so you can really serve them with anything. You could make them savoury canapes at a party covered with cream cheese, smoked salmon and capers. Or keep them sweet for when friends come over for morning or afternoon tea.
Other names for pikelets include griddle cakes or drop scones (depending on country or region). No matter what you call them though pikelets are great eaten hot or cold. Add them to kids’ lunch boxes for something fun to take to school, or make fairybread with them for a kids’ party.
How do I cook them?
Pikelets should be made with self-raising flour so they can puff up. You’ll also want a thick batter like pancakes so that they don’t spread when you pour the batter into the frypan. Because they are served small, pikelets only need a small amount of batter, so I’d use about 2-3 tbs of mixture per pikelet. Cook them like pancakes, waiting for the air bubbles to appear and then flip.
Here’s a recipe for the basic pikelet mixture, but here’s an apple pikelet and a cinnamon pikelet version too. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to flavour combinations. Google other recipes if you’re interested in making pikelets and I’m sure you’ll find all sorts of amazingly yummy ideas.
Which are your favourites? The pancakes? Crepes? Or Pikelets?