This Valentine’s Day, spoil your loved one with some perfectly chewy and gooey red velvet pancakes and cinnamon rolls!

Published: February 13, 2018

Enjoy these scrumptious recipes and keep spreading the love. Happy Valentine’s Day! PHOTOS: ARHAMA SIDDIQA

This time around when I was writing this blog, for some odd reason, the only thing that kept coming to my mind was the phrase “spreading love”. Last year when I visited the UK, I had a chance to watch the Lion King musical – an absolute breathtaking experience, which can never be replaced and is one of the highlights of my life.

“And can you feel the love tonight? It is where we are
It’s enough for this wide-eyed wanderer that we got this far
And can you feel the love tonight? How it’s laid to rest
It’s enough to make kings and vagabonds believe the very best.”

That last line really had an impact on me and made me realise afterwards that a little bit of love does do wonders.

Recently, when the earthquake struck Islamabad, I was driving around F-11 Markaz after work, and I saw this old Afghani lady sitting on the steps. I had seen her often but maybe it was one of those stress-induced days that I actually approached her. I went to OPTP next door, got some warm food, sat with her and asked her how she was. We talked for more than an hour about life in general, and then I bid her adieu and left. As I was driving away, I saw her in my rear view mirror and could see her toothless smile. I felt something, which I hadn’t been feeling for quite some time. I felt happy.

Rather than repeating the same mantra of  making the day special for your significant other, family and friends, this year I would like to focus on people who need a bit of loving. Don’t get me wrong, celebrating the day with your loved ones is by all means fun and exciting, but I wanted to spread a little happiness among people who can’t fend for themselves.

See those beggars on the streets, those old people who don’t have any family and have been neglected, maybe go sit with one of them. They have a lot to say and every person has a story to tell, so listen to them. Some though have nothing to offer except silent companionship. But sometimes, that is all one wants and needs.

Moreover, I would like to leave one very important message and I hope it doesn’t fall on deaf ears.

If there is one thing I have learned in the past year, it is that always take people’s feelings into account. The slightest of harsh words can leave a mark, so always be considerate of how you make people feel. They may not show you that they are hurt but trust me, it is hurtful. And always remember, karma is a real thing and it will come for you too if you hurt someone else. Avoid instigating those silent tears, which might become the anchor that pulls you down one day.

That was a bit too gloomy but alas rings true!

Moving on to happier things!

This Valentine’s Day, I tried to do something different. I’ll leave you with two desserts: Red velvet pancakes and cinnamon rolls – the former because hey, its Valentine’s Day, and the latter because it’s not mainstream pink and gooey. Both of these dishes are very easy to make, and when  cravings hit hard (especially in winters) and the nearest food saviour is just out of reach (even by Foodpanda standards), then its best to make these little pillows of deliciousness and have them with a cup of warm tea. Also, it’s better to bake something on your own and fill it with love rather than throw money at marketing companies. You can experiment with the glaze that goes on top and even with the filling. Cream cheese, Nutella and sometimes even jam make for a great topping with these amazing fluffy, perfectly chewy and  gooey pancakes and cinnamon rolls.

Red velvet pancakes


All-purpose flour: 2 cups

Cocoa powder: 3 tbsp

Baking powder: 2 tsp

Baking soda: ½ tsp

Salt: ½ tsp

Milk: 2 cups

White vinegar: 2 tbsp

Granulated sugar: ½ cup

Eggs: 2

Red food colouring: 1 ½ tbsp

Vanilla extract: 2 tsp

Salted butter, melted: ⅓ cup


1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and set aside.

2. Measure out milk into a liquid measuring cup and whisk in vinegar, allow mixture to rest for two minutes.

3. Pour milk mixture into a separate large mixing bowl and add in sugar, eggs, red food colouring, vanilla and melted butter.

4. Whisk mixture until well combined. While whisking, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix just until combine. Butter griddle if necessary and pour about a ¼ – ⅓ cup.

5. Cook until bubbles begin to appear on the top surface of the pancakes then flip and cook opposite side until pancake is cooked through.

Cinnamon rolls

Ingredients for dough:

All-purpose/plain flour: 4 cups

Instant yeast: 2 ½ tsp

Granulated sugar: ¼ cup

Margarine or butter: ⅓ cup

Salt: 1 tsp

Eggs: 2

Warm milk: 1 cup

Ingredients for filling:

Packed brown sugar: ½ cup

Cinnamon: 1 tbsp

Margarine/butter, softened: ⅓ cup

Flour: 2 tbsp

Ingredients for Icing

Butter: 2 tbsp

Powdered sugar/icing sugar: ½ cup

Cream cheese: ⅛ cup

Vanilla extract: ¼ tsp

A pinch of salt


1. Knead the dough with all its ingredients until nice and soft. If it’s a bit sticky, don’t worry about it. It will come together later on.

2. Put in a bowl, cover and let it rise in a warm place for about one hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

3. Preheat oven to 180⁰ C.

4. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, until it is approximately 21 inches long by 16 inches wide. It should be approximately ¼ thick.

5. To make filling, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.

6. Spread the butter over the surface of the dough, then sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture evenly over the surface.

7. Press down gently with your hand so the sugar sticks to the dough. Then sprinkle 2 tablespoons of flour using a sieve for light dusting. This will help absorb any extra moisture from the sugar as the cinnamon rolls are baking.

8. Working carefully from the longer side of the rectangle, roll the dough down to the bottom edge, like a Swiss roll.

9. Cut the dough into 1¾ inch slices, and place in a lightly greased baking pan.

10. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until light golden brown.

11. While the rolls are baking, combine the icing ingredients. Beat well with an electric mixer until fluffy. When the rolls are done, pour and spread the icing generously and serve warm! Leftovers warm up beautifully in a mini oven toaster or in the microwave.

Enjoy these scrumptious recipes and keep spreading the love. Happy Valentine’s Day!

All photos: Arhama Siddiqa

Arhama Siddiqa

Arhama Siddiqa

The author is a LUMS and University of Warwick Alumnus and is currently a Research Fellow at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI). She calls herself a bibliophile,a dreamer and an avid foodie. She also has a Instagram food blog: @chakhoous ( . She tweets @arhama_siddiqa (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Patwari

    A resounding AMEN to your prelude, in the blog. Now that can ring a bell with
    anyone. People are very perceptive, and can pick up unsaid things, nuances,
    body language, facial expressions. so on, when you think you covered them.
    So choose your delivery style carefully.
    Communicating is like navigating through a minefield! [just kidding]
    [done gone be taking a vow of silence, no more talking for yours truly]
    Or will be speaking in Mandarin Chinese from now on, so no one will know
    what’s being said. Safe.
    ‘It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.’ William Shakespeare.
    Now that clinches it fairly well, of how you go about your daily living.
    The recipes, photos are exemplary. As you know, people eat with their eyes too.
    During a trip to Mohenjo Daro, there was this vendor selling chat. He had arranged
    it so well on his ‘thela’, bright yellow dals, next to green chilis, fluffy alloos, green, red
    sauces It was so eye appealing. Went straight to his ‘thela’ from the car. Then paid
    for it next two days with a Delhi Belly, Karachi Belly? Ravi’s Revenge? Upset stomach.
    Everything’s looking peachy, hunky dory in the blog.
    Think the kitchen is calling ‘yours truly’.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Liked the story of the old woman and the accompanying sermon …….you are so right that one must try never to hurt the feelings of others.
    Every time Valentine Day rolls around without fail the debate of why are we celebrating this day crops up. The sane lot take it as an excuse to spread love and good cheer….. and then there are those who froth at the mouth at the mention of Valentine’s Day. Live and let live should the mantra and better still as you said use the occasion to do good and spread a little love.
    Why Red Velvet pancakes ? …..I tried a red velvet cake once and never again but I have to admit the pink in you photo’s looks good.
    As for pancakes I remember as a child having paper thin pancakes rolled up with lime and sugar the size of a normal chappati for dessert quite often. I think they are called Crepes from French cooking, while the smaller thicker version I think is the American one …… I am winging it, so if I’m wrong remember it’s a Valentine blog and you all have to be kind and not throw stuff at me.Recommend

  • AJ

    I cannot agree more that words have more impact than we think. A smile in the rear view mirror; it was heart touching.

    I anxiously wait for your recipes as mostly I havent made thrm before and I love trying new baking recipes and also easy to make.

    Could you also mention in your recipes the number of pancakes/ rolls made using the mentioned quantities. ThanksRecommend

  • Hamsid

    thank you!
    pancakes were around 8 small ones and cinabons depend on you small ones should 8/9 medium sized ones easily
    for pancakes if you want fluffy ones make the paste thicker otherwise add more milk to make them thinner
    if you have any other questions please let me know!Recommend

  • Hamsid

    Red velvet because it was v day after all so something red was required- cinabons to balance just that!
    haha I actually searched this up and pancakes have some sort of rising agent (baking soda etc) while crepes do not. But essentially you are spot on! Need to make something since you know all!Recommend

  • Hamsid

    hahah i agree
    haven’t read william Shakespeare but know him of course but that quote right there reverberated in my ears like a nice ting sound if that makes sense
    hahah thela foods are the best but unfortunately lack of hygiene prevails mostly so its better to make the same stuff at home but yes street food is amazing speaking of which malaysian street food is AMAZING in london near Euston square – roti king AMAZING- ok too much usage of the word amazing i knoww
    and thank you
    and what did ‘yours truly’ make?Recommend

  • Hamsid

    and because i am still guessing and you aren’t making it easier for me
    consultant? diving instructor? sportsman?Recommend

  • Parvez

    Ah ! … so we are still playing the game….so, no no and no. You are missing out on a profession that has to do with trade, commerce and travel….now that’s a sure give away.Recommend

  • Parvez

    That’s interesting because I thought a crepe was simply a pancake spread over a larger area but then you’re explanation makes more sense……..either way I love both.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    please await the next blog I shall do my research till then =pRecommend

  • Parvez

    Pretty amazing ….. McDonalds and wine out of a paper cup.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    Seems like you have travelled quite a bit too!
    Now I can try guessing whats your profession – am an not faring well in it at all btw- or you could make it easier?Recommend

  • Hamsid

    No wonder Singapore is the cleanest place in the world! We would do well to emulate it in Pakistan!Recommend

  • Patwari

    Nope. Little plastic vine glasses.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Travelling was and is done during vacations, time off. From school/college
    days and onwards. Not connected to profession. No guessing please.
    You will not be able to do it.Recommend

  • Patwari

    No, Singapore is more or less a dictatorship. Not too many freedoms there.You get dragged to jail because you spat out a chewing gum!
    It is not a totally free democratic society there. Chinese ethnic hegemony.
    Lee Kuan Yew ruled for three decades as PM. Now his son is in charge.
    Shades of dynastic politics of El Hajj Nawaz Sharif.Recommend

  • Parvez

    ha, ha ….+ 1 to McDonalds.Recommend

  • Patwari

    By the way Raffles is an old relic from the British Raj. Built in1887.
    It’s more than a 120 years old. Of course, now, it’s modern and
    renovated. But if you want a taste of the old bygone days of the Raj,
    you go to Raffles, in Singapore..
    Perhaps, somewhat, like the Lahore Gymkhana, maybe? Never been
    to it.
    Or the Sindh Club in Karachi? Been there. It’s plush.Recommend