Shrove Tuesday – 3 unusual things to add to a pancake

Eggs, milk and flour

You want to do something different for Pancake Day but don’t know what?  I’ve been searching through my cookery books and I’ve discovered some unusual historical pancake recipes. Ginger, sour cream or even snow.

Pancakes with Powdered Ginger

These pancakes, which have added ginger powder, make a hearty feast. Ideal, according to Jane Grigson, for “the labourer’s family at harvest…when everyone was needed in the fields…they were easy to carry, like a Cornish pasty.” The recipe is take from Jane Grigson’s book English Food and is from the eighteenth century.

Harvest Pancakes for the Poor

  • Measurements in the recipe are presented original – modern (follow the modern).
  • 1 pottle wheat flour – 150g flour,
  • 2 quarts new milk or mild ale – 300ml milk or mild ale
  • 4 eggs – 1 egg
  • Powdered ginger to taste – ½ teaspoon powdered ginger
  • Lard for frying – Lard or oil to grease the pan

Mix flour to a batter with milk or ale and the egg. Flavour with ginger, and fry in lard in a heavy pan, a ladleful at a time. Try out a small pancake first to see if the consistency is right, add more liquid if it is too thick. Chopped apple was sometimes added to enliven the pancake.

What’s a pottle?

A pottle was a measurement of bulk, equivalent to half a gallon, (2 1/2 litres, 4 pints). As far as flour was concerned it meant just over a kilo (2 1/2 1b) in weight. The word pottle was also used for small, conical chip baskets of strawberries or mushrooms.

Woman with a pottle
Woman with a pottle

Sour cream and bicarb. from Wales

These Welsh light cakes or Pancakes also come from Jane Grigson’s book on English food.

  • 6 rounded tablespoons of flour
  • 2 rounded tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soured cream
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 rounded tablespoon cream of tartar
  • 4 tablespoons of water
  • About 150ml buttermilk or milk.

Beat together the first 5 ingredients. Mix the bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar with the water – it will froth up rapidly – and add it to the batter. Dilute to a bubbly, not too thick consistency with the buttermilk or milk, adding it gradually. Cook the batter in small round cakes – they will spread a little, and the surface should rapidly become netted with holes. If the mixture seems to thick, add some of the buttermilk or milk.

Apart from a preliminary greasing with butter paper, you will not need to do more than brush the pan occasionally with a little oil or melted butter.

To turn the pancakes, ease the delicate, lacy edge from the pan with a thin, pointed knife, before pushing in the slice.

The Welsh way of eating these deliciously light pancakes is to spread them with Welsh butter and pile them up, one on the other. The butter melts in the heat and falls through the holes, so that the whole thing is rich and succulent, as well as light. To serve, cut the pile of pancakes in quarters.

Make a snow pancake

From The Cookery of England by Elizabeth Ayrton.

When snow was lying, a large piece, about 3 x 4 x 3 inches (7 x 10 x 7 cm) was brought in just as the pancakes were to be cooked, and quickly stirred into the batter. As the batter cooked, the snow began to melt, leaving holes which made the pancake light and delicious. This does work, and naturally gives great pleasure to helping children. One or two early recipes says that if snow is used fewer eggs are required.

Snowy steps in Brunswick Square