- 3 eggs
- Pinch of salt
- 100g plain flour
- 100mls full fat milk and 100mls water mixed together
- 1 tbsp light olive oil
For the custard filling:
- 350mls milk
- 4 strips lemon zest, removed with a potato peeler, taking care that no pith remains on the zest
- 75g golden caster sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 heaped tbsp plain flour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
To finish the pancakes:
- A little beaten egg
- A thin slice of butter, or two
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- A sprinkle or two of golden caster sugar
- A good glug or two of dark rum
- To make the batter, put the flour into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle to add the eggs and salt to. Whisk together and once it becomes almost too difficult to work, start to pour in a little of the milk/water mix to thin the batter. Continue whisking until both liquids and flour are used up.
- Whisk in the oil and put to one side for at least 30 minutes; the batter may be made up to 6 hours in advance if you want to get ahead.
- For the pancakes, use a 20cm frying pan [non-stick if you are a novice at pancake making. Add the oil and wipe around the pan with a piece of kitchen paper, leaving a thin film of oil behind. Now, pour in enough batter to thinly cover the base of the pan, flip it over with a palette knife when it is turning golden at the edges and cook the other side for about 30 seconds. Continue in this mode for subsequent pancakes; you may happily stack them together on a plate, once finished. And don't worry, they won't stick together.
- To make the custard filling, warm the milk in a pan with the strips of lemon zest. Once the milk is scalded, put on a lid and leave to infuse. Put the egg yolks into a bowl and whisk together with the 75g of sugar until well blended and pale coloured. Add the flour and beat this in too.
- Now, strain the lemon-scented milk over this [don't wash the pan] and whisk all together until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and return to the pan [don't wash the bowl, either] and heat over a very low light, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it slowly begins to thicken. This should take about ten minutes.
- Alternate, now, between the spoon and a sturdy whisk, as the custard will soon begin to thicken dramatically; the difference between a simple egg custard and this one [essentially the thick French custard known as 'crème patissière'] is that the addition of flour will stabilise the mixture as it cooks and, unusually, one can actually allow it to enjoy the occasional simmering blip as it thickens, without worrying about the egg scrambling. And it must eventually thicken to something resembling the consistency of a thick white sauce.
- Once this has been achieved, take a spatula and scrape out the custard back into the bowl. Lay a sheet of Clingfilm directly onto the surface of the custard [this prevents a skin forming] and allow to cool.
Assembling the dish
- To assemble and finish the custard pancakes, take one pancake, lay it on a work surface and then brush a little beaten egg over the top edge furthest away from you. Now place a tablespoon of the custard in the centre of the pancake, roll up the pancake half way to cover it, then tuck in the sides and finish rolling up to seal; it will resemble a plump spring roll. Make three more of these. Note: do not roll them too tightly.
- Melt a little butter in a non-stick frying pan large enough to easily accommodate four custard pancakes, and allow it to gently heat. Now lay in the pancakes, sealed side down, and leave to quietly sizzle for about 30 seconds. Using a palette knife, deftly flip them over. Sprinkle with a tiny amount of sugar, then flip them over once more. Sprinkle with more sugar on this buttery side, then flip over again. Repeat this process once more; the time taken should be about 5 minutes, during which time the pancakes will have puffed and swelled somewhat [the reason for not rolling up the pancakes up too tightly] and become lightly crusted with sugar.
- Remove the pancakes to a warmed serving dish. Add a touch more sugar to the pan, now over a slightly higher heat, together with a scrap of butter. Let it sizzle a bit, then add two healthy glugs of rum and let the mixture bubble and amalgamate into what resembles a modicum of butterscotch sauce. Quickly pour this over the pancakes and serve without delay