When the Pancake Bell rings we are free
February 9, 2016 5:44 AM   Subscribe

A Shrove Tuesday pancake history, with seventeenth century recipes! Take twenty eggs, with halfe the whites, and beat them half an houre or more...
posted by moonmilk (59 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
I got up early to make pancakes this morning! Blueberry pancakes. *smack smack* And aside from exchanging chemical leavening for the mechanical leavening and yeast, the basics haven't changed that much at a glance. (I'm also making a King cake, wonder how much that's changed.)

". . .The Pancake Bell, the sound whereof makes thousands of people distracted, and forgetful either of manners or humanities"

. . .Heeee I would have fit in well in 17th century England, apparently. Now that's what modern society needs - a pancake bell!
posted by barchan at 6:14 AM on February 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


I will want pancakes today but alas, there will be no pancakes because the rest of my day will have no room to make them. Stupid busy schedule.
posted by Kitteh at 6:35 AM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


I asked for pancake recipes on the green ten years ago(!) and still return to the page every shrove Tuesday. Aubilenon's berry & rum pancake recipe is amazing with ice cream. There are some pretty good 'first course' pancakes in there too.
posted by biffa at 6:54 AM on February 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Very much in the spirit of preserving traditional recipes, and celebrating Shrove Tuesday, here is a century-old Pennsylvania-German recipe for fasnachts.

Fasnachts

Makes 5 dozen.

3 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 cup milk
1/3 cup lard
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1 package dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water (not hot)
1 cup potato water
2 eggs, beaten
About 9 cups sifted flour
Lard for frying

Cook peeled and quartered potatoes in salted water. Meanwhile, put the milk and lard in a small saucepan and heat to boiling point. Remove from heat. Add sugar and salt, stir until dissolved. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and set aside. When the potatoes are soft, drain and reserve 1 cup potato water. Mash the potatoes. To mashed potatoes, add the two beaten eggs and the sweetened milk when it has cooled to lukewarm. Add the potato water and yeast. Stir in flour, adding a few cups at a time until dough is no longer sticky. Turn onto floured surface and knead well by repeatedly punching, stretching, and folding dough over itself. When dough is smooth, put it in a large greased kettle or roaster. Cover and let rise in a warm place at least 70 degrees and free from draft.

In the morning, on a floured surface, roll a quarter of the dough at a time to 1/3-inch thickness. Cut with a doughnut cutter or in 2-x-3-inch rectangles. If rectangles, cut a small slit in the middle of each. Place on a tablecloth and cover with another cloth. As soon as doubled in size, fry in deep fat (375 degrees). Drain on paper towels. Roll in granulated sugar.

Best when eaten the same day.

[My notes on the making:

Defrost 3.5-4 quarts of lard for fryer.

Cook peeled and quartered potatoes (I used four, and diced them a little finer) in salted water. Meanwhile, put the milk and lard in a small saucepan and heat to scalding. Remove from heat. Add sugar and salt, stir until dissolved.

When the potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes, drain and reserve 1 cup plus two tablespoons of potato water. Using potato ricer, rice potatoes into mixer bowl. Let cool to lukewarm.

Proof yeast in small bowl with a few tablespoons of lukewarm potato water. Beat two eggs with eggbeater and add to lukewarm potatoes; mix on first setting for 30 seconds to a minute, or until mixture is smooth. Add the milk mixture to the potatoes and mix. (A few tablespoons of warmed honey are a nice addition -- make sure this is lukewarm, and not hot.) Add proofed yeast to the potatoes and mix.

Fit mixer with paddle attachment. Sift flour, and add to potato mix, one cup at a time, mixing after each cup. Halfway through the flour, switch to the dough hook (sooner or later, depending on when paddle starts having trouble mixing). Not all of the flour may be needed, depending on conditions. Make sure ingredients are thoroughly absorbed and mixed, and then allow it to work on the dough hook for three to five minutes.

Place dough in a greased bowl (a big one; use the largest possible) and spray exposed surface with oil. Cover with plastic and put in a cool to cold spot to rise overnight.

In the morning, lightly flour a bread board. Place waxed paper/Silpats on sheet pans and spray with oil. Roll out a hunk of dough to 1/3-inch thickness. Move dough to cutting board and cut with a doughnut cutter (round cutter, small cutter for holes) or in 2-x-3-inch rectangles. If rectangles, cut a small slit in the middle of each. Spray with oil. Cover with floured cloth (or place in large plastic bag/or cover with damp tea towel) and let rise. As soon as they have doubled in size, fry in lard (375 degrees) until golden brown, about a minute per side. Drain on cooling racks over paper towels. Roll warm fasnachts in granulated sugar/cinnamon mix.]
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:56 AM on February 9, 2016 [7 favorites]


Hey biffa that's a pretty good thread! Thanks!
posted by barchan at 7:13 AM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


What's interesting to me about "pancake day" is that I never heard anything about it growing up - despite living in a Catholicism-saturated area. I don' think anyone had carried any pancake day traditions with them. It seems to have really caught on in the last 10, 15 years. Does anyone else remember this from childhood, or is it something you've come to as an adult?
posted by Miko at 7:21 AM on February 9, 2016


Pancake day?! Pshaw, today is paczki day!
posted by bigstace at 7:22 AM on February 9, 2016 [11 favorites]


I just learned that none of my American friends knew about Pancake Tuesday. We celebrated it in Australia, like my Catholic school would make pancakes at school that day.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 7:26 AM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Wheat, Cloves, Mace, and a little Salt, Creame, a little new Ale

This sounds a bit savory and i am intrigued!
posted by Greg Nog at 7:27 AM on February 9, 2016


Low carb diet was the worst new year resolution EVER. I'll just reread all these recipes wistfully.
posted by moonmilk at 7:32 AM on February 9, 2016


i am on pancake 4

i feel unwell
posted by poffin boffin at 7:34 AM on February 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oh Pączki Day, Oh Pączki Day!
We get to eat you all today
posted by eriko at 7:35 AM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


a little new Ale

You'll probably have to make that yourself. Historically that would have been ale made without hops and no more than a few days old. It'll still be quite sweet and only mildly alcoholic. The quickest, easiest way to simulate it would be to mix up malt syrup in water and let it ferment with ale yeast for a day or so.

Or you could go whole-hog and brew it from grain. The brewing method used at that time was exceedingly simple, basically just brewing 'grain tea' and then draining off the liquid. No sparging, no decoction. It was, however, very grain-inefficient, but you'd only need a little for something like this.
posted by jedicus at 7:36 AM on February 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


The new ale is likely there as a source of live yeast as well, so most modern beer would be a poor substitute (shout out for CamRA approved Real Ale!)

Had a mess of pancakes for breakfast this morning with my housemates and dad. Spent a few hours on it, lazily taking turns at the pan. Pancake day is the best weird British tradition I'd never encountered until moving here.
posted by Dysk at 7:55 AM on February 9, 2016


I couldn't stop thinking about pancakes, so I decided to make some (with whole wheat, so they are "healthy"). But I didn't have any baking powder, so I decided to make crepes. But I didn't have any milk, so I'll let you know if these things are any good.
posted by moonmilk at 8:11 AM on February 9, 2016


Does anyone else remember this from childhood, or is it something you've come to as an adult?

I was raised Anglican in Canada and grew up celebrating Pancake Tuesday (the school cafeteria made pancakes for lunch, and sometimes we'd get pancakes for dinner too) and pretty much ignoring everything else that had to do with Lent. It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized the connection between pancakes, Lent, and Mardi Gras.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:19 AM on February 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Does anyone else remember this from childhood, or is it something you've come to as an adult?

Yes, I remember Pancake Tuesday when I was a child (fifty years ago now!). It was actually the only day in the whole year that we had pancakes. Irish pancakes are the thin crepe style eaten with sugar and lemon - thicker things made with baking powder are called drop scones here.

There's an odd small difference in naming where in England it's normally called Pancake Day and here in Ireland it's Pancake Tuesday; I'm actually a bit surprised that it's Pancake Day that seems to be used in the US, given the influence of Irish immigrants.
posted by Azara at 8:25 AM on February 9, 2016


The youth group at the Episcopal church I grew up in had (and continues to have, according to my mother, who still goes there) a Shrove Tuesday pancake dinner as a fundraiser each year. Now the grownups have a Mardi Gras party as a fundraiser the weekend before as well; so everyone has an opportunity to indulge before Lent! Of course, I gave up religion for Lent one year and never looked back, so it's all just an excuse to eat, drink, and be merry to me.
posted by TedW at 8:33 AM on February 9, 2016


Medieval food traditions are really the only reason I pay attention to the religious calendar anymore.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:41 AM on February 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


OK, I can confirm that nondairy whole wheat crepes are not quite as good as pancakes, but much better than no pancakes. Especially with fig preserves.
posted by moonmilk at 8:41 AM on February 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


They're so light and fluffy brown
They're the finest in the town
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:48 AM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Azara, we used to call it Pancake Tuesday in NW England, I wouldn't rule out the Irish influence there.
posted by biffa at 9:31 AM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


It was actually the only day in the whole year that we had pancakes.

How is this possible? There are days when we have to make plans just to ensure we don't end up eating pancakes for both breakfast and dinner. (hey, sometimes you start with a lot of energy and end without very much)
posted by GuyZero at 9:50 AM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Guy - not having pancakes apart from today was pretty normal in England, and I suspect in Ireland for the same reasons. It wasn't something that's served in cafes and restaurants. Its not (or wasn't) a breakfast thing. I guess some people might have had crepes but I can't remember seeing them IRL where I lived in the industrial north of England.

Pancakes tended to be served pretty traditionally; there are places where you would be judged anathema for eating them with anything other than sugar and lemon.
posted by biffa at 10:05 AM on February 9, 2016


I just learned that none of my American friends knew about Pancake Tuesday.

Not a thing here at all. The first time I heard "Pancake Tuesday" I was like "WTF is that?" Now pączki OTOH are a big Fat Tuesday thing around here.
posted by MikeMc at 10:25 AM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


judged anathema for eating them with anything other than sugar and lemon

Can you explain this, please? Because someone said something about eating pancakes with lemon juice in the thread you linked, and my face did a thing, but upon thinking about it I'm not sure there's a real difference between that and eating pancakes with fruit or crepes with lemon curd or something, so now I'm curious. How does this work? Is this a regional way?
posted by barchan at 10:30 AM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


In Newfoundland it has definitely always been a thing. There are local traditions involving mixing objects like a button, coin or a nail into some and using them to predict the future.
posted by peppermind at 10:38 AM on February 9, 2016


in your future: expensive dental work
posted by poffin boffin at 11:01 AM on February 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


How does this work? Is this a regional way?

They're flat crepey pancakes, not fluffy american ones. You drop a bit of butter on a finished one as it is just out of the pan and still hot, smear the butter around with some sugar, squeeze on a bit of fresh lemon, and then roll or fold as you prefer before hungrily devouring. BLISS.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:03 AM on February 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


oh I'm drooling, that sounds amazing, I have to try it, thank-you!
posted by barchan at 11:13 AM on February 9, 2016


As poffinboffin says but no butter on UK version (or one I'm used to), thin pancake comes out of pan sprinkled with sugar, squeeze of lemon juice (you can get little lemon shaped plastic containers with lemon in at this time of year) and then eat them flat or rolled up into a cylinder.
posted by biffa at 11:16 AM on February 9, 2016


If your pancakes are roll-able they're closer to a crepe than a pancake, at least in the archetypes in my head, but they're definitely on the thin-pancake end of the spectrum. Which is indeed more European I guess.
posted by GuyZero at 11:17 AM on February 9, 2016


Yup , UK pancakes are much like crepes.
posted by biffa at 11:19 AM on February 9, 2016


GOOD GOD you butterless heathens, no wonder you lost an empire.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:20 AM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


See pics.
posted by biffa at 11:25 AM on February 9, 2016


I just realized it's kind of a simplified lemon version of crepes Suzette, only without the Grand Marnier and the flambe. So only kind of-not really.

But it sounds yummy! And definitely with butter. Butter slathering is half the reason to eat pancakes in the first place, they're like potatoes in that they're delicious butter delivery systems.
posted by barchan at 11:29 AM on February 9, 2016


"I love really thin pancakes."
posted by Beti at 11:37 AM on February 9, 2016


OK, I can confirm that nondairy whole wheat crepes are not quite as good as pancakes, but much better than no pancakes. Especially with fig preserves.

Pretty much anything can be made worthwhile with fig preserves. That, and butter. Lots of butter.
posted by holborne at 11:43 AM on February 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


Three down. Combinations of cheddar, Emmenthal, mozzarella, apple and ham. Most excellent. Now follows a short respite to allow this to settle (or because we ate all the mixture) then it's pudding course.
posted by biffa at 12:46 PM on February 9, 2016


Oh yea, I also had to introduce them all to lemon and sugar on the pancakes. It's been an eye-opening week for all of us.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:57 PM on February 9, 2016


Especially when they were all "yea let's put butter on the pancakes" and I was all "what the fuck are you doing?"
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:58 PM on February 9, 2016


Well, inspired (lead astray) by this thread, I've made my first pancakes in 15 years. It went pretty well, I even managed to flip them properly (apart from the first one, but that doesn't count).

Now I'm on a sugar high and my kitchen looks like a flour bomb has hit it.

Totally worth it.
posted by antiwiggle at 1:00 PM on February 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


I made some of these lemon juice crepes for lunch (with butter) - why not, it's pancake day! yay pancakes! - and it was soooooooooo good - thanks everyone for new breakfast deliciousness.
posted by barchan at 1:02 PM on February 9, 2016


Does anyone else remember this from childhood, or is it something you've come to as an adult?

UK here. We always had pancakes on Pancake Day, they were crepe-style (I never knew there was any other kind of pancake), and they were always served with sugar and lemon juice, no butter, and rolled up. Pancakes were never eaten on any other day. Too fiddly, and the pancake-maker never gets to sit down with everybody else!

As an adult I discovered that the drop scone style of pancake, with banana or raisins in it, is popular among parents with picky kids. But pancakes are not a breakfast food here unless you are a toddler or feeding a toddler.
posted by emilyw at 1:11 PM on February 9, 2016


Two pudding pancakes, both with aubilenon's rummy berry mix and a scoop of ice cream. Now bloated on the couch, all over for another year.
posted by biffa at 1:23 PM on February 9, 2016


Growing up Catholic we never had Shrove Tuesday. I didn't hear about it until I became an Episcopalian. We will be having pancakes tonight for supper. With real maple syrup!
posted by Biblio at 1:39 PM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


But pancakes are not a breakfast food here unless you are a toddler or feeding a toddler.

What kind of monsters are you?! Have you no IHOPs?
posted by MikeMc at 1:42 PM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


But pancakes are not a breakfast food here unless you are a toddler or feeding a toddler.

When I was a kid (in the UK), my family used to have pancakes (i.e. crepes) for breakfast every Sunday morning. If we had friends staying over, they were always awed and overjoyed so I guess you're right about them not being common for breakfast over here.


It's one of my favourite memories from childhood.
posted by badmoonrising at 1:50 PM on February 9, 2016


Have you no IHOPs?

Nope, apparently they are N. America, Dubai and Kuwait only.

Growing up Catholic we never had Shrove Tuesday.

I was brought up catholic, everyone at my catholic school had pancakes on shrove Tuesday, the idea was a pig out using all the stuff left in the cupboard before giving something up for lent the next day.
posted by biffa at 2:02 PM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


I went out last night (Tuesday) for roti chanai, which basically makes me some sort of pancake experimentalist. I had a dessert one stuffed with pandanus to make it an extra pancakey experience.
posted by lollusc at 2:04 PM on February 9, 2016


I grew up in Liberal, KS, home of the International Pancake Day. We were always out of school that day and had a big parade and a race against Olney, England. This had been a thing in southwest Kansas since the 1950s, but most people in the state look at me funny when I wish them a Happy Pancake Day.
posted by Broken Ankle at 2:38 PM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


It was actually the only day in the whole year that we had pancakes. [me]

How is this possible? There are days when we have to make plans just to ensure we don't end up eating pancakes for both breakfast and dinner. (hey, sometimes you start with a lot of energy and end without very much) [GuyZero]

We had them at tea-time, and with five children hungrily watching every pancake, I think my mother found it a bit of an ordeal compared to a normal day. At some point in my teens I announced that I would make the pancakes, and I have a vague recollection of getting as far as 48 before the batter ran out.
posted by Azara at 2:45 PM on February 9, 2016


I really am totally puzzled. I grew up in a stronghold of Irish immigration into the US and really did not see this in action. I need to talk to other Irish Catholic NY/NJ folks to see what they observed.
posted by Miko at 2:51 PM on February 9, 2016


had about eight and now unwell. UK thin kind and Scottish drop-scone kind. Toppings random selections from lemon, sugar, walnuts, honey, nutella, banana, apfelmus, butter, cinnamon, jam, and some kind of weird wachholder spread. am shrove, have shriven, am cleansed and ready to give up precisely sod all for forty days till the Chocopolypse
posted by runincircles at 3:34 PM on February 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Something must've been lost/gained in the crossing, because in Poland, pączki are eaten on Fat Thursday.

Weirdly, as a kid we would have drop scones/Scotch pancakes (ie American pancakes) fairly regularly, but proper pancakes only on Pancake Day.
posted by Helga-woo at 3:51 PM on February 9, 2016


Olney won this year's International Pancake Day Race, beating the Liberal, KS, competition. Sorry, Broken Ankle.
posted by bryon at 10:31 PM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have decreed that today is pancake wednesday, mostly because what else am I going to do with these lemons.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:36 AM on February 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


In solidarity with poffin boffin, I made more whole wheat crepes today, with real milk this time, and with lemon and sugar this time. And avocado and olives and tea.

I heard a rumor that tomorrow is pancake thursday.
posted by moonmilk at 9:20 AM on February 10, 2016


In honor of the one week anniversary of pancake tuesday, I made crepes again today. Also day before yesterday.
posted by moonmilk at 6:59 AM on February 16, 2016


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