The English Student Cooks: Souffle Cheese and Broccoli Pancakes

I’m currently cooking my way through Mary Berry’s Complete Cook Book, which the Pragmatist gave/lent to me when I moved out for my first full-time job. I wanted to document the experience as a kind of cooking diary, and so “The English Student Cooks” was born. This will be an irregular feature, as I only cook when I’m home on my days off, which is Not That Often.

Souffle Cheese and Broccoli Pancakes

Method: I started off by making the pancake batter in the usual way: making a well in 85g flour and adding one beaten egg and a bit of milk and mixing them together, and then adding 85ml milk and 85ml water and stirring. Then I put that aside to stand.

Next, the broccoli: 30g of tiny broccoli florets got boiled for a minute and drained and put aside.

The next thing was cheese sauce, which went horribly wrong the only other time I’ve made it, so I was justifiably nervous. I melted 10g butter (I was quartering all the measurements, which proved challenging – I dare you to measure out 10g of anything on analogue scales) and stirred in 10g plain flour and cooked this roux for a minute, and then added 75ml milk, slowly, so it was smooth; and then brought the mixture to the boil until it went all thick and lovely. It was a good moment, realising that it had actually worked!

The sauce came off the heat and I added 20g Cheddar and some mustard, and then about 20g more Cheddar because, frankly, I like my cheese sauce cheesy and not bland.

At this point I made two pancakes with the pancake batter, frying them in hot oil for a minute each side.

I separated an egg (just about – I tend to start doing things and then realise I haven’t thought them through at all, which is not good when you are wandering around with an eggshell full of yolk), and beat the yolk into the cheese sauce before whisking up the whites (with a handheld electronic beater, having tried whisking egg whites by hand before and not being foolish enough to try that twice) until they formed soft peaks – or, in practice, until I got bored.

The egg whites got folded into the cheese sauce mixture along with the broccoli, and the mixture went in the middle of the pancakes, which I’d put on a buttered baking tray. The pancakes were folded up, Parmesan was grated over them, and they went in the oven at 200 degrees for 15 minutes.

Substitutions/alterations: As I’ve said, I quartered the recipe, not being in need of 8 pancakes.

Verdict: The pancakes came out of the oven all right, which was a miracle in itself, and they tasted approximately correct. I wanted them to be cheesier, though.

All in all, it was quite a satisfying recipe to cook – fiddly, but not overly so, and full of things that felt like little triumphs (white sauce, soufflé mixture). If I tried it again – which I won’t rule out – I’d cook them for more people than just me, and add more cheese.

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