It’s pancake day today! It makes me think back to my childhood and my mum cooking pancakes; I don’t know how she made the batter, I guess the recipe originally was either from Mrs Beeton or from the Be-Ro cookery book. She had a plastic flask which was ridged inside and had a screw top and she would put all the ingredients in it and shake like fury to make the batter.
I have never seen a flask like it in cook shops since I have been interested in cooking, although there are similar things with screw tops and cross pieces which work in the same way, but with the flask my mum had it was short and stout and fitted comfortably into your hands; the longer slimmer ones need a closer grip which isn’t as good for a long shake of anything. It was very effective for batter puddings and pancakes – and we even made butter once! The flask was a very pale green… I wonder what happened to it… no doubt it was superseded by electric whisks and blenders… although I don’t actually remember my mum having a blender. She did have a hand whisk with a handle that you turned, what is now called retro-vintage, I see on a kitchen craft site.
So mum would make the batter and have a pan sizzling hot with a smear of lard; we didn’t have cooking oil when I was very young, lard or butter were the options. She seemed to do everything quickly, whether it was running down the garden and pegging the washing out on the line, or picking vegetables, or making pastry or scones – everything she did was quick and efficient and looked so easy. So it was with pancake make, pan on stove, lard in pan, pour in the batter when it was red-hot and there would be spitting and a smoky almost burnt but not quite smell, and the special pancake smell. She would flip them over, I don’t remember her tossing them up high in a dramatic fashion, just a quick flip and then it was slipped onto our plates.
At home we only ever had lemons cut into six or eight pieces, and sugar; we didn’t ever have jam or treacle or anything else on pancakes, just sugar and lemon. That also made it special, because there was never anything else which had that simple combination. We would sprinkle and squeeze onto the flat pancake, then roll it up and eat it with a spoon and fork. I liked to cut either end off and eat them first then work my way into the middle and have the sticky juicy sugary yummy bit as the last mouthful.
Last night I made twenty pancakes to take to my English conversation class today, and as I cooked them, a sort of production line of yumminess, I thought back to Pancake Day of my childhood.