When I was a kid, Saturday evening meant pancakes for supper. Not what you probably think of when you think “pancakes” – these were thick, almost savoury cakes made with cream-cracker crumbs and cottage cheese and eggs, served with fruit sauce. Though I have not made them in years, the recipe is fixed in my mind:
Ingredients per person: 1 ounce of cream crackers, crushed or ground to fine crumbs; 1 ounce of smooth cottage cheese; 1 egg. Beat the cottage cheese and the eggs together to form a thick yellowish paste, then add the cream crackers “to a dropping consistency”, meaning that when I picked up a spoonful and dropped it into the hot oil, it fell cleanly from the spoon. We always fried them in shallow oil till they were dark brown, layered them on a plate with paper towel to catch the excess fat, and ate them with fruit sauce as soon as possible after they had been made.
The sauce was made with two tins of fruit – over the years I think my two favourite mixtures were pineapple and apricot, or mandarin oranges and pears, and usually preserved in fruit juice rather than syrup. But really, any kind was good – I think the only sort I ever regretted was a tin of fruit salad mix with glace cherries. It was always made in a cast-iron red pot that had been a wedding present: save a little fruit juice in a small bowl, and tip the two tins into the pot, turn up the heat under the fruit, and mix the juice with a tablespoon of cornflour. Add the mixture to the fruit in the pan, and stir: magically, to me when I was a child, the white mixture would disappear and the liquid juice in which the fruit rested would thicken into a sauce. This could be eaten hot or cold, so the sauce could be made hours or even a day before the pancakes. These were delicious and filling, and as I remember no one usually managed more than three. There were always leftovers, which were eaten cold as snacks.
Nowadays when I make pancakes I usually make them with a cup of flour, or more depending on how many people I am feeding, and a pinch of salt: make a well in the middle of the flour, stir in an egg, and then up to a pint of milk, or milk and water, or beer, (or cream if you want thicker, richer pancakes) to make a thin batter, which makes a large thin cake in a thin layer of hot grease in a pan or on a griddle.
But I also sometimes make sourdough batter, which is egg-free: I take some sourdough starter from the fridge, add some more flour and water, beat it into a thin liquid with a plastic whisk (metal isn’t good for the yeast) and leave it to quicken for an hour or so in a warm place. When it’s bubbly, it’s ready to be used as I would basic pancake batter.
I eat pancakes plain, or with maple syrup, or lemon juice and sugar, or with a spice like cinnamon whisked into the batter, or with curry…
How do you make your pancakes? How do you eat your pancakes?