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British style pancakes, but not as you know them! Fluffy pancake batter baked into pancake cupcakes, topped with mini pancakes, zesty lemon buttercream frosting and a thick lemon sugar syrup. A new and delicious way to enjoy pancakes this Pancake Day!
Pancake Day, Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras… whatever you call it, it’s a day celebrated and marked across the world. It comes the day before Ash Wednesday, the day that Lent starts, and this year it falls in February 28th – this coming Tuesday. Traditionally it’s the day you get ready for fasting by using up all your staples in your kitchen and one last chance to gorge on what you will be giving up for Lent. In the UK, we traditionally have pancakes because it’s a simple way to use up eggs, flour and sugar – hence why we call it “Pancake Day”. Of course, it’s not entirely necessary these days as most people don’t fully fast for Lent, rather we just give up one of our vices, but traditions are still fun to have right?
Pancakes in the UK are quite different to those you will find in the US. Instead of thick, fluffy pancakes drenched in maple syrup, British pancakes are thin like crepes. The traditional topping, at least in my experience, is always lemon juice and sugar. So simple, yet so delicious. Other favourites include golden syrup, Nutella, fruits and whipped cream. Lemon juice and sugar will always be my favourite though, and it is that what I based these amazing Pancake Cupcakes on. I’m a sucker for tradition, but I do love to give it a little twist too. These Pancake Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Frosting and Syrup have all the delicious flavours of a traditional British Pancake Day, but in cupcake form. So much fun!
We love Pancake Day in the UK, we may not have a carnival like Mardi Gras but we still celebrate in style. To get myself ready for Pancake Day I popped down to my local Tesco to grab the ingredients I needed for these Pancake Cupcakes, and you can find them all in their fun Pancake Day display – it was hard not to grab a bit of everything and make various types of pancakes. Just like traditional British pancakes, it usual all simple ingredients – most of which you will already have in your kitchen. Anything you don’t have on hand will be easily found in the Pancake Day display. And don’t forget the lemons!
These Pancake Cupcakes are not your regular cupcake, they’re made from my favourite pancake batter rather than a sponge batter. This gives them a denser crumb than a light, fluffy sponge, and it works beautifully. I used an American style pancake batter for them as it makes for a fluffier batter, with all the same yummy flavour of a British pancake. I adapted my favourite American style pancake recipe for these and I couldn’t be happier with how they came out. You use the same batter for the cupcakes as the adorable mini pancakes you put on top too, no need to mix up separate batters, nobody has time for that!
Because it’s not your regular cupcake, the Pancake Cupcake sponge is not as sweet as you’d expect from a cake sponge – the sweet and zesty Lemon Buttercream and thick Lemon Sugar Syrup balance that perfectly. It also means these are the perfect excuse to eat a cupcake for breakfast, I mean they are Pancake Cupcakes after all! Or, breakfast for dessert! If you’ve never tried the British tradition of lemon juice and sugar on pancakes, I have to say this is a great way to start –not that I am bias or anything! But I have very fond memories of impatiently waiting for my mum to serve up misshapen pancakes, then smothering them in in lemon juice and sugar, and eating as many as I possibly can without exploding, and these Pancake Cupcakes capture those memories, with a twist, just perfectly.
They’re really quick and easy to make. The batter is a mixture of gluten free flour (or regular flour if you don’t have gluten free dietary requirements), a little sugar, some baking powder and baking soda to get that good rise, melted butter, egg yolks and whipped egg whites. You fill the cupcake cases with your pancake batter and bake them as you would a regular cupcake – they will crack on the top like a muffin, but that’s all good! You’ll have some batter left over, which you will fry into tiny, adorable pancakes while the cupcakes bake. You’ll also want to make up your Lemon Sugar Syrup while the cupcakes bake, but don’t worry too much if the cupcakes are done first. The syrup is really simple, it’s just sugar, water, lemon juice and corn flour cooked together. Once the cupcakes come out of the oven, you just spoon a little of the hot syrup on top to infused them with some of the sweet, lemony flavour and then leave it to cool completely.
The Lemon Buttercream Frosting is adapted from my favourite easy buttercream recipe, it couldn’t be easier and it’s so delicious and creamy. You just need to whip butter for at least 5 minutes, until it’s pale and creamy, and then beat in the sugar and lemon juice until you have fluffy, delicious Lemon Buttercream Frosting. Pipe big piles on top of your cooled cupcakes, top with a couple cute mini pancakes and drizzle with syrup. Totally easy, totally delicious and a totally awesome new way to enjoy pancakes this pancake day!
Pancake Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Frosting and Syrup
Yield 12 Cupcakes
Fluffy pancake batter baked in cupcake form, topped with zesty lemon buttercream frosting and mini pancakes, drizzled with thick lemon syrup. Can be made gluten free or not!
For the cupcakes (and mini pancakes):
- 2 3/4 cups (435g) all purpose flour (gluten free blend or regular)
- 1/2 cup (100g) caster sugar (fine white sugar)
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 1.5 tsp bicarb (baking soda)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 large eggs, separated, room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups (420ml) buttermilk*
- 2.5 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 stick + 3 tbsp (150g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temp
For the syrup:
- 1 cup (200g) sugar
- 1 cup (240ml) water
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (approx one lemon)
- 2 tbsp cornflour (corn starch)
For the frosting:
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp (250g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 cups (500g) icing sugar (confectioners/powdered)
- 4-5 tbsp lemon juice (approx two large lemons)
- 12 count muffin/cupcake tin
- 2 mixing bowls
- stand mixer or electric handheld beater
- small saucepan
- griddle or frying pan
- piping bag
- star piping nozzle
To make the cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 170C/350F and line a 12 count muffin tin with cupcake liners
- Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb and salt into a bowl and whisk together to combine and remove any lumps. Set aside
- Put the egg yolks, buttermilk and vanilla in another mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside
- Put the egg whites into a clean bowl, and whip until soft peaks form (egg whites hold their shape, but "peaks" folder over when whisk lifted out) - stand mixer with whisk attachment or handheld electric beater are the easiest way to do this.
- Pour the flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture and whisk to combine, until smooth and no lumps.
- Spoon 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the batter and use a metal spoon to fold in. Add the remaining whites and use the metal spoon to gently fold until fully combined.
- Spoon into cupcake liners, until 3/4 full. Remaining batter will be used for the mini pancakes.
- Bake for 26-30 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. The cupcakes will crack on top so don't worry
- Cool in tin for 5 mins then turn out onto wire rack and spoon 1-2 tsp of syrup over the top while they are still warm (you can make the syrup while cupcakes are baking).
To make the syrup:
- While the cupcakes are baking, put the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Reduce to a simmer and remove 3 tbsp of syrup into a small heatproof bowl. Add the the 2 tbsp cornflour and stir to combine. Pour mixture back into syrup.
- Simmer for another 5 minutes, then remove from heat and leave to cool completely. You can spoon onto cupcakes while it is still warm/hot
To make the mini pancakes:
- You can make these while the cupcakes are baking and alongside syrup (just be sure to keep eye on pancakes at all time, they cook very quickly)
- Heat a griddle or non-stick frying pan to a medium heat
- Using the remaining cupcake batter, spoon 1/2 tbsp of batter into the hot griddle/pan and cook for approx 30 seconds, until bubbles start to form. Flip and cook for about 20 seconds or so.
- Repeat until batter is used up. I recommend only cooking no more than 3 pancakes at a time or you risk burning them since they're so tiny. Leave to cool.
To make the frosting:
- Put the butter in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric beater) and beat the butter on medium-high until creamy and very pale - will take 5-10 minutes, beat for a minimum of 5 minutes.
- Add the icing sugar and beat on lowest speed to combine. Add 4 tbsp lemon juice and turn up to medium high speed. Add the other 1tbsp lemon juice if mixture is still thick. I used the full 5 tbsp, but you may not need to.
- Beat for 3-5 more minutes, until fluffy.
To assemble cupcakes:
- Spoon the frosting into a piping bag fitted with star tip. Pipe tall swirls on top. (if you don't have a star piping tip, you can just snip off the end)
- Place 2-3 mini pancakes on top of the swirl, press in a little.
- Drizzle with about 1-2 tsp of the lemon syrup when ready to serve.
Store in airtight container in fridge for 3 days. Bring back to room temperature before eating.
*Use store bought buttermilk or easily make your own at home by adding 1.5 tbsp of white wine vinegar or lemon juice to your jug, and topping up to recipe amount with regular milk. Whisk together and leave to sit for 5 minutes.
What’s your favourite way to top your pancakes? Will you be giving up anything for lent?