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A pancake is a flat batter cake, fried in butter or oil on a griddle or pan. It can be eaten both hot and cold. Its origins extend to antiquity, and it has been featured in cookbooks since at least 1439.

Pancakes are cooked one side at a time, being flipped by the cook halfway through. The process of tossing or flipping them is, to many people, part of the essence of the pancake, and one of the skills that separates the experienced cook from the beginner.

There are sweet varieties, for example cooked with raisins inside, and savoury ones, such as with cheese or bacon. The latter may also be sweetened, after cooking, by adding syrup or powdered sugar.

In the United States, the pancake is usually a breakfast food, but it is so popular that a franchised restaurant called International House of Pancakes, commonly called IHOP, has more than 1,000 restaurants. In Great Britain, pancakes are celebrated on 'Pancake Day' (also known as Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras). According to tradition, this was in order to use up the last of the fat before the Lent season.

In the Netherlands pancakes are eaten as dinner. Pancake restaurants are popular family restaurants and serve many varieties of sweet, savoury, and stuffed pancakes.

A common recipe for pancake batter:

4 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 pkg. dry yeast
4 cups milk
1/2 cup butter
6 eggs

Combine and beat until smooth. Lightly grease griddle and pour 1/4 cup batter onto hot surface for each pancake. Turn when edges look cooked and bubbles begin to break on surface.

For extra light pancakes, mix some beer in with the batter.

It is also possible to follow a simpler recipe, without exact measurements. First, break an egg into a bowl. Mix in plain white flour until a smooth paste is formed and then dilute with milk until the consistency is suitable for pouring. Heat a small amount of some kind of cooking fat or cooking oil in a small frying pan and pour in enough mixture to thinly cover the base of the pan (leaving a little room round the edge). When the mixture appears to be reasonably cooked on the base (the top side will change in appearance), either turn or flip the pancake to cook the reverse.

See also: waffle