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Tin can pancakes

Make your own mini stove and whip up a batch of delicious but tiny pancakes.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Tin cans
  • Tin openers
  • Screwdrivers
  • Tea lights
  • Matches
  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Spoons
  • Knives
  • Ingredients, see below
  • Heat-proof gloves

Before you begin

  • Make sure you’ve risk assessed your meeting, and also have a COVID-19 safe risk assessment that’s been agreed by your line manager. You can check out more detailed guidance here
  • If you’re meeting online, it’s probably best for this activity to be done between meetings with support from an adult. Anyone that takes on the challenge can share photos of their completed tin can stoves (and their mini pancakes) at the next meeting. 

Safety checklist

Use the Safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity.  Additional coronavirus-related controls to think about may include: 

  • Set up a hand washing station that you can use throughout the session.
  • You’ll need enough equipment for everyone so people don’t have to share. You could ask people to bring an empty tin, tin opener (or hammer and thick nail), and screwdriver from home.
  • Think about how you’ll hand equipment like tea lights out – it won’t work for everyone to help themselves from one big pile.
  • Think about how you’ll make the pancake batter while staying distanced. We’ve included some suggestions below.

Make a tin can stove

  1. Make sure the tin can is empty, clean and dry. Take off any labels and check there’s no coating on the inside.
  1. Use the tin opener (or hammer and nail) to carefully punch some holes in the side of the can near the top (the end that’s still covered). Punch the holes all the way around.
  1. Gently place the screwdriver into each hole and wiggle it to make the holes a bit bigger.
  1. Repeat steps two and three at the bottom of the can.
  2. Put the tea light on a plate and put the tin can stove over the tea light.

Make pancake batter


  • 200g flour
  • Three tablespoons brown sugar
  • One teaspoon baking powder
  • 375-500ml milk
  • One tablespoon oil
  • One teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

It’s up to you how you make this work socially distanced. One person could make a batch of the mixture, split it into small portions, and leave it two metres away from each young person for them to collect. Alternatively, you could give everyone a scaled down version of the ingredients so they can mix their own or they could make their own mixture at home and bring it to the meeting in a container.

  1. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl, then add the oil (and vanilla extract, if you’re using it).
  2. Gradually add the milk and mix it in. You may not need all of it – keep mixing and stop adding the milk when the batter’s the perfect consistency.

Cook the pancakes

  1. Use the matches to light the tea light and gently put the tin can stove on top.
  2. Add some oil to the top of the can and let it heat up.
  1. Test whether the oil’s hot enough by putting a dot of batter onto the tin can. If the oil’s ready, the dot of batter will start to cook. Remove it with a table knife.
  2. Pour about a teaspoon of batter onto the top of the tin can stove. Once bubbles come to the surface, work the table knife around the edges of the pancake to loosen it so you can flip it over.
  1. Continue to flip the pancake over to make sure it cooks evenly on both sides. Once the pancake’s cooked, use the table knife to remove it.


Learning how to cook simple recipes that don’t use many ingredients or much equipment is a great skill for any budding adventurer. Why might this knowledge be helpful on expeditions or nights away? People could think about the importance of being able to create as many different and tasty meals as possible from a small amount of food and equipment. This makes it easier to pack lightly when camping or trekking.

Being able to cook basic meals is also an important step towards independence. Cooking with a limited number of ingredients can help people develop their creativity. Everyone should get into small groups and chat about other meals they could cook with the equipment and ingredients they have (and two or three added extras). Could they put these ideas to the test into an upcoming session?


All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.


Check for allergies before you begin and read the guidance on food safety. Make sure you have suitable areas for storing and preparing food and avoid cross contamination of different foods.

Flammable items

Always take care when using flammable items (especially if you’re near fire). Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Sharp objects

Teach young people how to use sharp objects safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.


Teach young people how to use cooking equipment safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Make sure it’s safe to use and follow manufacturers’ guidelines for use.

Fires and stoves

Make sure anyone using fires and stoves is doing so safely. Check that the equipment and area are suitable and have plenty of ventilation. Follow the gas safety guidance. Have a safe way to extinguish the fire in an emergency.