I ate way too much this summer. Glossy magazines always tend to suggest that you'll get firmer and slimmer over the summer, partly because you'll permanently be on one of their "get bikini fabulous" diets and partly because summer is the season of salads and Atkins-friendly barbecues. I say b******s to that: summer is the season of ice-cream, cold white wine and holidays where one throws dietary caution to the wind. I also reckon that I ate more in June and July because I was on a serious Bikram yoga trip which meant that I was able to persuade myself that the extra slice of pizza (or in fact any pizza) was permissible because, you know, I'd done a serious workout. As we now know, exercise won't make us thin because it messes with our minds in this way - check this out.
So now what am I doing now to counteract the effects of the past few months? Why, I am doing something which I know deep down is a bad idea, but which has been espoused by the two great dietetic influences in my life: Liz Hurley and my friend Kathleen. I am skipping breakfast.
And you know what? It's gone ok over the past week or so. I was a bit hungry by lunchtime, but no more than I usually am when I've had breakfast. The big skinny coffee that I have in the morning does seem to tide me over. Obviously I wouldn't recommend this if you're pregnant or if you do serious manual labour or if you are training for the Olympics or anything like that, but when you spend most of your working day hunched over a desk I really don't think that you're going to be putting your life at risk by trying it. If you want.
But I draw the line at skipping breakfast at the weekend. On Sunday just gone I made these apple pancakes for Mr. F and me, and they were really something.
Makes four big pancakes (enough for two greedy people)
For the batter
150 g of plain flour (although I used half plain wholemeal and half tipo "00", which I would recommend)
1 and a half tbsps of caster sugar
Half a teaspoon of salt
Half a teaspoon of cinnamon
A teaspoon of bicarbinate of soda
100ml of milk
Half a teaspoon of vanilla extract
For the other bits
2 eating apples (I used Braeburn), peeled and cored and cut into slices no more than 5mm thick
2 teaspoons of butter for frying
(I make these pancakes in two small frying pans which speeds up the process considerably.)
Firstly, melt half a teaspoon of butter in a little frying pan over a medium heat. Neatly arrange the apply segments in an attractive pattern, like this:
Let the segments fry for about four minutes, until they start to turn caramel-coloured around the edges.
Whilst they are cooking make the batter. Start by tipping the flour, salt, sugar, cinnamon and bicarb into a bowl, making a well in the middle and then cracking the egg into the centre. Whisk the egg and begin to draw the flour in. When it becomes too thick to whisk gradually add the milk into which you've stirred the vanilla extrat. The mixture should be slightly thicker than the consistency of double cream. (You can make the batter in advance. Many people will tell you it makes a better batter. I don't know about that, but if you do I would leave out the bicarb and only add it just before you're about the cook the pancakes.)
When the apples have cooked for the aforementioned four minutes carefully pour about 1 quarter of the batter over the slices, ensuring that you fill the hole in the middle. Don't worry - there will be enough batter for the four pancakes that you're aiming to make. Let the pancakes cook until bubbles/little holes start to appear in the raw batter. Flip the pancakes and cook for a further two to three minutes, or until golden on the other side. Transfer to a warmed plate and cover with a tea towel if you're going to make a batch to serve. Otherwise, eat with maple syrup and plain yoghurt whilst standing in the kitchen wearing manky pyjamas and an embarrassing pair of fluffy slippers.