One batter, 7 ways: From quick comfort food suppers to mouthwatering desserts

From quick comfort food suppers to mouthwatering desserts, Annie Bell’s super-versatile batter recipe can be adapted whichever way you like.

Basic batter recipe

batter recipe
Chris Alack

1 medium egg
150ml skimmed milk
pinch of sea salt
60g plain flour
10g unsalted butter, melted

1. Place the egg, milk and salt in a blender, add the flour and whiz until smooth. Scrape down any flour clinging to the sides, whiz again, then stir in the butter. You can also use a bowl and hand blender.

OR

2. It may be easier to make a small quantity of batter (for the Pear Fritters or Sea Bass Goujons) by hand: whisk the egg in a small bowl, then sift and stir in the flour. Add the salt, mix to a lumpy dough. Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth and stir in the melted butter.

3. Now use it to create all these sweet and savoury dishes.

Chipolata toad in the hole

chipolata toad in the hole
Chris Alack

Crisp on the base and around the outside but creamy within, this version comes laced with leeks and mustard. Gravy or chilli jam are my favourite additions.

SERVES 4

vegetable or groundnut oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
2 x batter recipe (see above)
200g leeks (trimmed weight), sliced
1 heaped tsp thyme leaves
sea salt and black pepper
400g chipolata sausages

1. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Place two tablespoons of oil in a large roasting pan (around 37cm x 25cm) and heat in the oven for 10 minutes.

2. Add the mustards and some seasoning to the batter when blending.

3. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the leeks then fry, stirring frequently, for 5-8 minutes until nicely coloured at the edges, adding half the thyme and seasoning just before the end. Remove the leeks to a bowl.

4. Add a little more oil (around 2 teaspoons) to the pan and colour the sausages, stirring frequently to ensure they colour evenly on all sides. They should be a nice golden shade, but not too dark as they will colour further in the oven.

5. Pour the batter into the hot dish, scatter over the leeks, then the sausages and the rest of the thyme. Place the toad in the hole in the oven to cook for 30-35 minutes until the batter is risen and golden. Serve straight away.

Sea bass goujons with tartare sauce

sea bass goujons
Chris Alack

Eat as an indulgent warm sandwich or a light supper with a salad.

SERVES 4

sea salt and black pepper
batter recipe (see above), made with 75ml milk, omitting the butter, adding 1 tsp baking powder with the flour
vegetable or groundnut oil for shallow-frying
2 x 100g seabass fillets, halved lengthways
125g button mushrooms, stalks trimmed and halved

TARTARE SAUCE

100g mayonnaise
50g soured cream
1 tbsp finely chopped small capers (such as nonpareille)
1 tbsp finely chopped cocktail

GHERKINS

1 heaped tbsp finely chopped
flat-leaf parsley, plus extra to serve

1. Season the batter well in a medium bowl and place the oil, to a depth of 1cm, in a large frying pan over a medium heat.

2. Once a drop of batter sizzles, dip the fish in the batter and shallow fry for about 4 minutes, until golden and crispy on each side. Remove and place them on a double thickness of kitchen paper.

3. Stir the mushrooms into the remaining batter to coat and fry until they are golden and crisp.

4. Combine all the ingredients for the tartare sauce in a bowl.

5. Serve the goujons with tartare sauce, scattered with the extra parsley

GET AHEAD The sauce can be prepared a day in advance, in which case cover and chill.

GOUJONS IN A ROLL

For a treat of a sandwich, fill warm plain or wholemeal pittas with shredded lettuce, the goujons, mushrooms and tartare sauce.

Spinach and parmesan pancakes

spinach and parmesan pancakes
Chris Alack

Creamy and tender, spinach with parmesan is a winning combination. These are delicious dished up with crispy pancetta.

SERVES 4 (MAKES AROUND 12)

300g-350g spinach, washed
batter recipe (see above)
50g freshly grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
grated nutmeg
sea salt and black pepper
rapeseed oil

1. Place the spinach in a large saucepan, cover and cook over a low heat for 10-15 minutes or until it has wilted, stirring halfway through.

2. Drain using a colander and press out the excess liquid as thoroughly as possible, then coarsely chop on a board.

3. Combine the spinach with the batter in a large bowl, then stir in the parmesan and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

4. Heat a large nonstick frying pan over a medium heat, add a teaspoon of oil then drop in rounded tablespoons of the mixture, spreading them out evenly into thick pancakes about 8cm in size.

5. Fry for about 1 minute on the first side, then flip and cook for a further 30-60 seconds. Place on a double thickness of kitchen paper and cook the remaining mixture, adding a drop more oil to the pan if necessary.

6. Serve the pancakes dusted with a little extra parmesan.

Breakfast pancakes

batter recipe breakfast pancakes
Chris Alack

You could make these in advance – they will keep well for several days. Once the pancakes are cool, simply cover and chill them. Reheat by placing them in a dry frying pan and warming briefly on each side.

SERVES 2-4 (MAKES AROUND 8)

2 x batter recipe (see above) with 1 heaped teaspoon of caster sugar

1. Place a 24cm nonstick frying pan over a medium-high heat for several minutes. When the pan is hot enough, the pancake mixture should sizzle as it goes in.

2. Ladle in just enough batter to coat the base, tipping the pan so that the batter runs evenly over the surface. Cook for 30 seconds until the top appears dry and lacey at the edges and the pancake is golden underneath. Loosen the edges using a palette knife or nonstick spatula and flip the pancake.

3. Cook for another 30 seconds then slip it on to a plate.

4. Repeat for the remainder of the batter.

5. Serve either as they are cooked, or pile the pancakes on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. I always have to discard the first one – it never seems to work properly.

LITTLE EXTRAS

  • Berries and greek yogurt
  • Apple purée and cinnamon
  • Mashed banana and raisins

Pear fritters

pear fritters
Chris Alack

Indulgent but simple, these are delicious at any time – but you might need to wait until a little later if you’re drizzling over the rum!

SERVES 4

vegetable or groundnut oil
2 large ripe pears, peeled, quartered, cored and cut into long strips around 1cm wide batter recipe (see above), made with 75ml milk, omitting the butter
icing sugar for dusting
dark rum to serve

1. Add a couple of tablespoons of oil to a nonstick frying pan and place over a medium heat.

2. Add half the pear strips to the batter and stir to coat, then put them in the pan, spacing them a little apart. Don’t worry about any drizzles of batter, they will turn deliciously crispy. Fry for 1 minute on each side or until golden, then place on a double thickness of kitchen paper.

3. Cook the remainder, adding another tablespoon of oil to the pan.

4. Divide the fritters between four plates and liberally dust with icing sugar and splash with a few drops of rum.

Cheat’s berry clafoutis

cheats berry clafoutis
Chris Alack

You can whisk up this frying-pan take on a clafoutis in minutes. It’s especially good doused in a river of cream.

SERVES 4 

batter recipe (see above) made with 25g golden caster sugar, plus extra for dusting, and 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
5g unsalted butter
40g raspberries
40g blackberries
pouring cream to serve

1. When making the batter mixture, include the sugar and vanilla with the milk and egg.

2. Place a 24cm nonstick frying pan with a heatproof handle over a medium heat, then set an overhead grill to high.

3. Add the butter to the pan and swirl it around as it melts then pour in the batter. Scatter over the berries and cook for 3 minutes.

4. Dust with caster sugar and pop under the grill for a further 3-4 minutes until the batter is golden and puffy.

5. Serve straight away with cream.

Banana pancakes with maple syrup

batter recipe banana pancakes
Chris Alack

An ideal way to use up any slightly blackened bananas in the bowl – the riper the fruit, the sweeter and headier these pancakes will be. You can top with a syrup of your choice – my favourites are maple and date or a resinous honey.

SERVES 4

2 very ripe small bananas
batter recipe (see above)
5g unsalted butter
greek yogurt or soured cream
maple or date syrup
finely chopped walnuts

1. Mash the bananas in a bowl, then gradually pour in the batter and blend.

2. Place a 24cm nonstick frying pan over a medium heat, add the butter and swirl it around the pan to melt.

3. Pour in a quarter of the pancake mixture and tip the pan to spread it over the base. Fry for about 1 minute until the underside is golden, then flip and fry the other side for another 30-60 seconds. Slip on to a plate and repeat for the remaining batter to make three more pancakes.

4. Serve with a dollop of yogurt or soured cream spread in the middle and drizzle with plenty of syrup then scatter with nuts.

For more recipe ideas go to anniebell.net and @anniebellcook