It was such a treat to visit Michelin-starred chef Paul Foster at his restaurant Salt which lies in the beautiful and historic town of Stratford-Upon-Avon, a stones throw from the hustle and bustle of the town centre. Salt opened its doors in March of 2017 and within a year and a half had received a Michelin star, the first ever for the town.
At the beginning of 2020, they opened Salt Cookery School located in the stunning and wonderfully bright space above the restaurant. This is where we met Paul and cookery school leader Brett Connor and it provided the perfect background for photographing the three pancake recipes they have so generously shared with us.
Our aim of the day, to see our pans in action, capture some photos of Paul using our stainless steel tri-ply range and get some top pancake making tips to share with you. This stunning range of cookware is already being used by up-and-coming chefs in the cookery school kitchen at Salt.
Most American style pancake recipes include buttermilk, but why buttermilk specifically?
The acid in the buttermilk brings more flavour and greater rise so that when it reacts with the baking soda it yields that extra fluff we expect when making American pancakes. What about substituting the buttermilk for something else? The two commonly used substitutes are plain yogurt with a touch of vinegar or lemon juice but Paul and Brett both think this will change the final flavour of the pancakes and make them more acidic.
Clarified butter is used for frying the pancakes, but what is it?
Often used in Indian cooking it’s the clear oil that is generated when butter is slowly melted allowing the milk solids to separate from the transparent golden liquid. Cooking with clarified butter has a few benefits for example you can cook at higher temperatures without it burning. Milk solids, which are separated off when making clarified butter, are what cause butter to smoke and burn whilst cooking. They also cause the butter to spoil or become rancid so clarifying it will make it last longer. In the restaurant they tend to make their own because it’s more cost effective, but they also use salted butter in all their recipes.
Paul loves his Salt, they use salted butter for everything in their restaurant, hence the name of the restaurant.
How much milk you use can vary based on the flour you have, or even on the day, given that the moisture content in the flour can fluctuate on a day-to-day basis. You don’t want to overwork the batter, so minimize the amount of mixing you do. It should drop out of the ladle when poured and fall nicely like a cake batter would.
They used a spatula to turn these pancakes.
It’s time to turn the pancake over when it’s nearly set on the top and a nice golden brown on the bottom so have a peak by lifting the pancake slightly with a spatula/turner. You don’t want the batter too runny before turning them.
Paul used a smaller ProWare Stainless Steel Tri-ply 20cm non-stick frying pan, because this way you can fill it, so one pancake per pan. Make sure not to heat the pan too high. A good, gentle, medium heat will do. If your pan is too hot the pancake will brown too quickly. They preheated the pans gently with a touch of clarified butter before adding the batter.
American pancakes wouldn’t seem the same without copious amounts of bacon and maple syrup.
They source their bacon from Aubrey Allen Wholesalers, based in Leamington Spa. Paul explained the best bacon comes from Suffolk due to the vast amount of flat land they have. They used a delicious smoky streaky variety.
Dark rum – Any dark rum will due that you have to hand such as Captain Morgan’s.
When putting it into the pan always start with less than you think you’ll need as with crêpes a little batter goes a long way. You can always fill in any holes as you go with a touch more batter if needed.
Usually you can toss crêpes, however there was one pancake that it was clear it just wasn’t going to work for. The crêpe needs to move around the pan before you can flip it, so pick up the frying pan by the handle and see if it loosens in one piece and moves freely around the pan. If you can do this then just go for it and give it a toss! If not, resort to turning these ones with a spatula or turner.
Paul used a large ProWare Stainless Steel Tri-ply 28cm non-stick frying pan gently heated over a medium heat with a touch of clarified butter moving around the pan, then using some kitchen roll make sure there isn’t too much excess butter before adding the batter.
For the orange sauce, Paul used a large ProWare 28cm stainless steel interior pan for this as non-stick is not needed. We took some great bubbling photos of them reducing this on the hob.
Paul and Brett suggest putting the crêpes in the pan to soak up the juice before plating them then pour a little extra juice over top.
In the restaurant they make all their own ice cream, however for this recipe they used Jude’s vanilla ice cream. Brett also mentioned how good the Jude’s vegan ice cream is too. You can’t even tell it’s vegan.
Are you slightly daunted as to what type of caviar to use? Don’t worry, any will do! Lumpfish or Harrods if you can splurge to it. Also a good budget variety is smoked herring row, which isn’t actually eggs, but made from fish milt and often referred to as soft roe rather than hard roe.
Use straight away after mixing so that the batter stays aerated. The amount of batter for each blini is about the size of a 50 pence piece. It will spread out slightly from this as it cooks.
It’s a good idea to pipe the blini’s in the shape of a clock face so that you can tell which one you did first and therefore you know which one to flip first. They used a spatula to flip the blini’s.
These are best made in a ProWare medium sized Stainless Steel Tri-ply 24cm non-stick frying pan using the same medium heat as previous pancake recipes to ensure they don’t brown too quickly although this time you add a touch more oil or butter to the pan for frying.
If you pipe the mixture into the pan it yields neater blini’s, however you can spoon them in as well, they just aren’t as consistent.
You can prep the blini’s ahead of time and warm them slightly in the oven before serving.