Updated: Mar 5
& a quick breakfast history lesson on the side
Drama is very important in life: you have to come on with a bang. You never want to go out with a whimper. Everything can have drama if it's done right. Even a pancake. - Julia Child
Yes the pancake. There is just something about the pancake. There are so many different types these days that it can be hard to choose and many establishments vie for that coveted first place on the pancake podium for the best recipe. It has become quite the celebrity in the culinary world, becoming both a familiar comfort food and an accompaniment to a number of sophisticated luxury dishes. The pancake’s symbolic modern day status may come as a surprise when you consider its modest beginnings. Before I introduce you to my personal recipe of choice, join me on a quick geographical pancake tour and have a taste of its extensive history.
It is believed that these hot cakes were cooked up 30,000 years ago during the Stone Age. With each passing century many different cities and cultures have adopted the basic recipe and added their own unique twist. The ancient Greeks and Romans were no exception, eating their pancakes with a drizzle of honey for added sweetness. Jumping ahead to France, we meet the famous Crêpe, an accidental invention of thirteenth century Brittany. These treats were (and still are) consumed on a special day called ‘La Chandeleur’ (Candlemas’) to mark the end of the year’s wheat stock and bring in good luck for the next one.
Naturally to follow, we travel across the channel to England during the 16th and 17th century, where pancakes were also becoming a recognized a staple. English pancakes are flat (much like a crêpe), covered with a sprinkling of sugar, a squeeze of lemon juice and then rolled up into a pancake burrito. Again, a dedicated day of the year was established for this dish as it become an annual routine whereby households would use up the last of their milk, butter and eggs, before the arrival of Lent. Affectionately dubbed, ‘Shrove Tuesday' (a day of partying, pancake eating and revelry) this day is still very much an established British tradition. The pancake mania was so prevalent that even the great bard himself, Shakespeare, made mention of them in his work:
“Of a certain knight that swore by his honour they were good pancakes, and swore by his honour the mustard was naught.” - As You Like It: Act 1, Scene 2
Sounds delightful but hold the mustard! Just to note, the Elizabethans tended to opt for a more decadent pancake in comparison, using a variety of spices, rosewater, sherry and apple.
Leaving English soil behind, we will now hop onto a ship and sail over to the Middle East for yet another variety of pancake. These are called Qatayef and are typical enjoyed as a dessert, served during the holy month of Ramadan. They are similar to a dumpling (a folded pancake if you will) filled to the brim with sweet cream and nuts.
Continuing on our whistle stop pancake tour, we head east and enter Mainland China. Here we find a very different kind of pancake, a savory one! Here you can sample the Scallion Pancake (also known as the spring onion pancake, making it sound quite cheery). Layered and crispy, this is a whole new kind of pancake and a delightfully moreish one at that. Pressing on, we jet off to nearby Japan Despite having their own version of the pancake in the 16th century (called Funo-yaki), we shall time travel ahead into the 21st century to sample the insta-famous Japanese Soufflé Pancake. A millennials dream, these are impossibly fluffy, pillow like structures and are known for their ‘jiggle’. These pancake creations are almost too cute to eat (almost).
We round off the tour with the US of A. Here, the pancake became an all American favourite in the 19th century and because the term ‘pancake’ was just not a worthy enough name for such a delectable dish, the people invented many monikers for this beloved breakfast food: Indian cakes, buckwheat cakes, griddle cakes, flapjacks, journey cakes, and Johnny cakes, to name a few. The American version has reached the pinnacle of pancake perfection, possessing just the right amount of fluff (unlike their Japanese counterpart). Fried until golden, you usually take these stacked - the number you assemble is all up to you! Following correct pancake etiquette you must top said stack with lashings of butter and proceed fearlessly with drowning your pancakes in pools of luscious maple syrup. If you’re feeling particularly self-indulgent, you can even opt for blueberry or chocolate chip pancakes. Warning, if you're ordering your pancakes at a restaurant or diner, you will be asked, "Do you want whipped cream on the side?" Just say, "Yes."
On that note, we conclude this journey and I thank you for joining me. You may now find your stomachs grumbling, but not to worry I have just the fix. Armed with your newfound pancake knowledge it is time to forge on and cook up some of your very own. Find my favourite recipe down below for inspiration, or why not create your own. I have found, when it comes to pancakes, you can pretty much make it up as you go, just have fun with it,
Best of luck and bye for now,
Banana Oat Pancakes With Gia
- 2 bananas (slightly brown)
- ½ cup oats
- ½ cup flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 scoop protein powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 large egg
- Knob of butter
- ½ cup of milk
1) In a bowl mix up the dry ingredients (oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon).
2) Mash the two bananas in a separate bowl.
3) Add eggs to mashed bananas and whisk 4) Add eggy banana concoction to the dry ingredients. 5) Whisk, whisk, whisk! 6) Add milk.
7) Whisk, whisk, whisk! 8) Let the mixture settle and prepare your work space – pan, butter, spatula at the ready!
9) Start the stove at medium heat and add the knob of butter to melt.
10) Turn down heat slightly and add a dollop of the pancake mix onto the pan – if you’re a pro and have a big pan feel free to have several pancakes on the go.
11) When the top of the pancake starts to bubble and the sides of the pancake start to go golden brown, its time to flip (proceed with care).
12) Leave the pancake to cook through for a minute and it's good to go.
13) Serve pancakes in a stack for full aesthetic effect and garnish with all of your favourite toppings. I tend to opt for peanut butter, banana, a spoonful of yoghurt and a drizzle of honey.
That's all folks! Enjoy your pancakes, leave a comment down below and share your go to toppings.
♥ Beautiful photography by Vojtech Bartonicek, make sure to check out his website https://www.imagesvb.com/
This was his pancake masterpiece:
♥ Some more pancake history resources and recipes to try if you're still hungry for more!
Try out a classic Elizabethan recipe: http://anachronistscookbook.com/2018/02/13/shrove-tuesday-elizabethan-pancakes-1585-good-huswifes-jewell/
US Presidents eating breakfast: https://www.mrbreakfast.com/breakfast/presidents-eating-breakfast/ (many pancakes feature)
Tips on how to flip a pancake perfectly every time: https://www.eatthis.com/flip-pancake-chef-tip/
Indulge in some buttermilk pancakes, a real comfort food recipe: https://ohsweetbasil.com/melt-in-your-mouth-buttermilk-pancakes-recipe/