Historic Recipe: Pancakes – A third Sort (1747)

Source: The Art of Cookery by Hannah Glasse (1747)

I’ve been a bit quiet on here recently, this is for a couple of reasons – work has been A Lot recently and on top of this I bought a flat at the end of November. Calling it a doer-upper is kind and I’ve had so much dirty work to do/get done that I’ve not unpacked any of my books because I don’t want to get them dusty. The kitchen is also small, badly thought out and has no cabinet doors. All in all, its made knocking up and photographing historic recipes a little tricky.

But then it was pancake day and about 9pm at night I decided I needed pancakes, but not just any pancakes, historic pancakes. These in Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery fitted the bill. Plus, the book is available online here, so no unpacking required. Glasse actually has five pancake recipes in her book – I picked this one because I had all the ingredients and it sounded suitably decadent.

Take six new-laid eggs well beat, mix them with a pint of cream, a quarter of a pound of sugar, some grated nutmeg, and as much flour as will make the batter of a proper thickness. Fry these fine pancakes in small pans, and let your pans be hot. You must not put above the bigness of a nutmeg of butter at a time into the pan.

Since it’s just me and this sounded like more pancakes than even I could manage (and I have a pretty high capacity for pancakes), I divided the recipe into three, which still made about 11.  I used a hefty pinch of ground nutmeg, instead of grating my own, and some pretty standard double cream. I heaped in tablespoons of flour until it resembled a modern pancake batter and then treated it like I would any normal pancake, wiping my small-ish frying pan with butter and tossing them when they were ready.

They cooked surprisingly easily and produced beautifully fine pancakes that were soft in the middle, but crispier at the edges than a modern recipe. I tried my first, while I was still cooking the others, and it was amazing just on its own – delicious and beautifully textured. The nutmeg makes them taste different and a bit period, but was not overwhelming and nicely complemented the richness of the cream. I tried one with brown sugar and lemon, which was fine, but there was rather a lot going on with the flavours. I then moved to a small drizzle of honey, which was the perfect combination and, presented like this, they were extraordinarily good.

Suggested alterations: None, although you could replace the nutmeg with an alternative flavour such as cinnamon if you fancied switching it up.

Final verdict: These are, honestly, one of the best things I’ve made on here. Also, I shall be calling things “the bigness of a nutmeg” from now on.


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