This Tuesday is pancake day, or Shrove Tuesday as it is formally known, and households across the country will be rooting around in cupboards and pulling out half-used bags of flour in preparation for that once-a-year pancake feast. I always laugh at how popular this day, centred on using up simple ingredients to prepare for lent, has come to be. It *is* possible to make pancakes any day of the year, but we all love a bit of tradition.
I’ve teamed up with Bonne Maman this pancake day to create recipes using their delicious range of jams, sauces and conserves. We’ve been eating Bonne Maman jam as a family for as long as I can remember – the gingham-topped jars making a regular appearance at our breakfast table. Jams are fantastic as they capture flavour from seasons past. This recipe for Blackcurrant Ricotta Berry Crepes has Bonne Maman blackcurrant jam right at the heart, as blackcurrants can be tricky to source in early spring. The jam brings all that rich flavour and add a beautiful colour to the crepe filling too.
You’ll love this pancake recipe as it is so simple to remember: the 1-2-3 method. The crepe batter is formed by whisking together 100g flour with 2 eggs and 300ml milk; and that’s it! This method makes around 12 pancakes, so double or triple it if you’re flipping for a crowd! I like to have all the toppings on the table, surrounding a plate piled high with fresh pancakes so that people can dive in a create their own.
Chances are, as people dust off their aprons and get pancaking, your Instagram and Facebook feeds will be flooded with beautiful stacks and delicious-looking creations. Starting out as a home-baker, I’ve had to hone my food styling skills in order to produce images that stand out. I’m still a relative novice in this area, but thought I’d share a few top tips to help get those images making an impact.
Good lighting is absolutely key to good food photography. You could create the prettiest plate in the world, but if you try to photograph it under yellow-tinged kitchen spotlights, it simply won’t look appetising! Natural lighting is best, so find a spot near a window (not too close or your images will come out too bright) to take your images. The best spot might not be in the kitchen, so get creative as to where you decide to set up. My kitchen doesn’t get much light at all, so I currently take all my images (including these) on the coffee table in the lounge!
Whether you’ve got a fancy camera or simply use your smartphone (I’m currently using a Google Pixel 2), no amount of retouching or editing can make food look fresher or better cooked! Try to source the best quality ingredients you can afford. It is always lovely to have a few raw ingredients in your images, so when you are cooking, keep an eye out for any particularly pleasing berries or herbs and save them for garnishing. The food should be the star and everything else you place around the food should enhance it, not take away from it.
When cookery books and magazine images are shot, a props stylist sources hordes of beautiful crockery, linens and tableware in all manner of colours to suit the dish being shot. Obviously, this isn’t an option for us shooting at home, which means we have to be creative with what we place around our food. That wedding crockery you eat off each day with a distinctive pattern isn’t always the best choice, as it is often quite busy and can take away from the delicious food you’ve cooked. Likewise, anything too shiny, like cutlery and glassware, creates reflections which can sometimes include you, the photographer, so are best avoided! So where do you find appropriate props? You have to keep your eyes peeled! Charity shops are where I find most of my pieces, and are often super cheap. These pieces of cutlery were about 15p each. Look out for unique but versatile items that can be used multiple times. Stick to fairly neutral colours too, so the food can be the star.
Don’t be afraid to embrace the mess! A smudge of jam, scatter of flour or smear of chocolate make your images look authentic. Remember to take a few pictures as you begin to eat too, as some foods look better with a bite or two out of them.
Feeling inspired to create your own pancake masterpieces? Find my recipe below or a whole load more delicious pancake recipes over on the Bonne Maman website here.