I tried to eat one massive pancake per minute every minute, for 12 minutes, and it didn’t end well.
Heading down to the Breakfast Club in Canary Wharf, London on a particularly grey Shrove Tuesday, I tried to complete the Pancake Challenge.
The brief is simple – celebrate the start of Jesus’s 40 days of fasting in the desert by eating a stack of American-style breakfast pancakes complete with a dollop of vanilla cream, raspberries, strawberries and a splash of maple syrup.
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That “splash” of sweet sweet Canadian nectar is actually a problem, in that it really is just a small drizzle for taste.
In informal office strategy meetings about my approach before the challenge, maple syrup had featured as a primary weapon in the fight against the dryness of the stack.
But on arrival, incredibly helpful staff (they really were) told us in no uncertain terms that a single ramakin was all I’d be allowed.
As the timer got going I went in with a plan – leave the stack standing and cut down from the top as if it were all just a single cake.
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But best-laid plans and all that, because after I’d removed just a single triangle of the teetering tower it lost its stability and crashed down on the plate – and table.
The vanilla cream was everywhere and here began a far-from-dignified effort to eat the tower as it lay on its side.
Regardless I cantered off out of the blocks at a decent lick having not eaten since the night before and with a decent appetite built up.
But what I didn’t account for was the sugar. The enforced dryness from the lack of maple syrup meant that you couldn't just gulp the food down and instead had to sit there with it in your mouth chewing and thinking about what you were really doing.
By pancake six the enormity of what I’d signed up for hit me, the sweet, sticky pudding food creating an almost instant sickliness and – despite not even being halfway through the time on the clock – knew I’d been defeated.
The next six or seven minutes passed in a sort of humiliating lap of defeat as my bites got slower and more laboured.
Were this a gladiatorial duel the pancake, clearly knowing it had won, would have been toying with me using a giant net and poking me with a trident, occasionally glancing up at the emperor waiting for him to give the big thumbs down.
The writing was on the wall and as the last few seconds passed a genuine sense of relief washed over me as I settled for a slightly generous eight cakes down – and a sudden realisation that I was more of a toast man.
As I trudged out defeated, a huge whoop and cheer came from upstairs – someone had just defeated the stack, the record for doing so just three minutes.
This challenge is a lot of fun and the food is genuinely very tasty so if you find yourself in the neighbourhood next year I strongly recommend giving it a try – see if you can beat eight.
The Breakfast Club 12 Pancakes in 12 minutes challenge is available for £20 on Shrove Tuesday.
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