The Ultimate Guide to Pancakes in London
Pancake Day – otherwise known as Shrove Tuesday – comes but once a year; but here at UnderTheDoormat pancakes are always an acceptable food choice, be it a special occasion, brunch, or just Tuesday! In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about pancakes in the UK (do you know your hotcake from your hopper, for example?) as well as recommending some of our favourite London pancake spots.
What is an English Pancake?
Depending on where you’re from in the world, the name ‘pancake’ means something different. And here in the UK we have a plethora of different options, meaning that if you’re at a London restaurant, you might find yourself stumped by the choice on offer! Here’s a rundown of the most popular types of pancakes that you’ll find in the UK.
American pancakes are the stuff of legend. Light, fluffy, and typically made from buttermilk, these thick variations are piled high and eaten with maple syrup and crispy, salty bacon, or with fruit and whipped cream.
A type of pancake that is often found on UK menus, French crêpes are traditionally made in special pans to ensure they’re very thin and delicate. Sweet and savoury versions are common: from chocolate and banana, to ham and cheese.
Somewhere between a crêpe and a thick American pancake, English pancakes are large and relatively thin. This delicious treat became popular during the Middle Ages, when it was customary to prepare for Lent – a time of fasting and penance – by using up all rich larder items, like eggs and butter. The easiest way to purge one's house of indulgent produce on Shrove Tuesday (the last day before Lent) was to throw it all in a pan: hence Pancake Day was born!
Traditional English pancakes are sprinkled with sugar and lemon juice, but more experimental toppings are now common (peanut butter and banana, anyone?).
Yes, you read that right: the UK has more than one type of indigenous pancake! Scotch pancakes, also known as drop scones or hotcakes, are a similar thickness to American pancakes, but they’re much smaller. Serve with jam or cream as a delicious snack.
Buckwheat pancakes – also known as Russian blinis – are traditionally served with sour cream, salmon and caviar. These are yeasted pancakes made from buckwheat flour, giving them a nutty flavour, and are very popular as an appetiser in the UK (mini blinis are great for canapes!).
A relatively new addition to the London food scene, but a very popular one, Hoppers are a type of Sri Lankan street food. A hopper is a large, bowl-shaped pancake made from fermented rice and coconut, which is then traditionally filled with curry. Yum!
Three Top Places for Pancakes in London
Where the Pancakes Are, Southwark Bridge Road, SE1 0NQ
The name says it all: this is the place where the pancakes are. By which we mean pretty much any pancake you can think of! From American-style pancakes topped with maple syrup, blueberries and banana (and bacon, sausage or halloumi, if you’re so inclined), to the English breakfast (two pancakes with traditional English items like baked beans, fried eggs, bacon and sausages), to the intriguingly-named ‘Dutch baby’ (a take on a German classic that’s more like a Yorkshire pudding), there’s no better way to expand your knowledge of batter-related concoctions than by visiting this Southwark gem. There are vegan, wheat-free and dairy-free options at Where the Pancakes Are, too, meaning that there’s an option for every dietary preference and requirement.
Claridge's, Brook Street, W1K 4HR
Claridge’s is a must-visit on any trip to London, regardless of the occasion – but if you happen to snag a breakfast table in their Reading Room on Shrove Tuesday, you’re in for a real treat. Whatever you order, all breakfasts will be served with a batch of delectable crepes, topped with the UK’s obligatory sugar-and-lemon combination. If you’re in the mood for heartier fare, pancakes are a staple on their usual breakfast menu – so why not go for a double portion?! Their standard pancakes are anything but: fluffy clouds topped with your choice of berries, clotted cream and maple syrup; or raspberries, blueberries, and Valrhona chocolate.
The Breakfast Club, various locations
This John-Hughes inspired chain has established a fantastic reputation when it comes to breakfast – unsurprisingly, given the name. Pancakes are one of The Breakfast Club’s most popular menu items, and we’re pleased to report that they’re worth the hype. There’s the gut-busting ‘All American’, which consists of pancakes, eggs, sausage, fried potatoes and maple syrup, pancakes with banana and salted caramel, and even the vegan ‘PB&J’ (gluten-free pancakes with peanut butter, banana, jam and syrup).
In celebration of Shrove Tuesday, The Breakfast Club are adding a few new concoctions to their pancake offering – including ‘Lemon Meringue Mess’ and ‘All The Chocolate’ – and are also running their famous pancake promotion for the fifth year running. The challenge? 12 pancakes in 12 minutes. If you succeed, the meal is on the restaurant; if you lose, you pay £20 and they’ll put the proceeds to charity. Are you ready to attack the stack?