Apple And Pear Pikelets
What is it about pikelets that is so homely and comforting? I can never cook a batch without thinking of my mum, and smiling as I do so, for I can so clearly remember her showing us how to make them when we were young. She would tie tea-towels around us as aprons, put out all the ingredients and within no time we would be enveloped in a cloud of flour as we busily whisked, stirred and chatted ninety to the dozen. We would make big batches of them, happily devouring them and licking our sticky fingers as we went.
Makes 16-20 pikelets.
- 1 cup (150g) self-raising flour
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar
- 1 free-range egg
- 1 cup (250mls) buttermilk (or regular plain yoghurt)
- 20g unsalted butter, melted and cooled a little
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 medium-sized (about 130g) sweet apple, peeled and grated
- About 40g unsalted butter, for cooking
- 2 small, just-ripe pears (or apples)
- Icing sugar, for dusting
- Lightly whipped cream, to serve, optional
Tip the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and sugar into a medium-sized bowl. Whisk them together with a balloon whisk for 40 seconds. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, buttermilk (or yoghurt), melted butter and vanilla until they’re combined, then stir in the grated apple. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk mixture. Stir them together just until they form a batter, then leave it to sit for 5 minutes, gently stirring occasionally.
Heat a large non-stick frying pan over low heat. Melt a small nugget of butter in the pan then use a thick wad of paper towel to swizzle the butter all over the base. Slice the pears (or apples) crossways into very thin rings, and remove any seeds. Put 5 or 6 rings into the pan (or however many fit comfortably with a gap between them as the pikelets will spread a little.) Cook them for 30 seconds, then drop a heaped dessertspoonful of batter onto each ring. Use the back of the spoon to swirl the batter a little to make it round – it will be a bit uneven but that’s part of a pikelet’s charm.
Cook the pikelets gently for 2-3 minutes until small bubbles appear all over the surface. Take a peek underneath – if they’re golden-brown, use an egg slice to turn them over. Cook them for another minute or two on this side until they’re done. (Turning them over may feel a little awkward as the tops are still uncooked, but you soon get the hang of it.). You will probably need to adjust the heat as you go so they continue to brown evenly.
When they’re done, scoop the pikelets onto a plate. Continue making pikelets with the remaining pear rings and batter, swishing a bit more butter around the pan between each batch. When they’re all cooked, dust them with icing sugar. Serve warm or room temperature with cream, if liked.
P.S. Surprisingly, these do reheat rather well in the microwave.