Shrove Tuesday – Pancake Day
A Quire of Paper
– A Stack of Pancakes with Lemon & Sugar –
Yes, it’s that time of year again, Shrove Tuesday is today, that can only mean one thing………….PANCAKES. I have shared a few pancake recipes over the last few days, but the pancakes I want to share today are from a very old recipe and are called a Quire of Paper; during the 18th century wafer thin pancakes were extremely popular and were served in a stack with each pancake being dredged with caster sugar as they were built up. Sack (sherry) and melted butter were often served with them and the thinner the pancakes the better. Sometimes stacks reached the giddy heights of fifty pancakes tall, although I could only manage fifteen with my recipe. A quire is a measurement of paper, hence the name for these airy pancakes, as they appear to be paper thin and stacked as paper…….the official measurement is defined as: A set of 24 or sometimes 25 sheets of paper of the same size and stock; one twentieth of a ream.
As you can see from my photos, I chose to serve my quire of pancakes with lemon and sugar – it’s not that I don’t like sherry, it’s just that I was wary of imbibing so early in the morning! I used my basic pancake recipe, but some of the older recipes have an enriched pancake batter with extra eggs and egg yolks, as well as cream. I am sure if I had made my quire of pancakes with extra eggs, cream and then served the with sherry, I would have had difficulty in participating in the pancake race……as it is, I am bowing out this year anyway, so maybe I could have had a glass of sherry with my cream enriched pancakes!
The history of the pancake race is fascinating however, and most famous is the Olney pancake race; The Olney Pancake Race dates back to more than five hundred years and is held on Shrove Tuesday. The course is 415 yards long and is run from the Market Place to the Church at 11.55 a.m. Participants, who are usually housewives or young ladies of the town, must have lived in Olney for at least 3 months and be at least 18 years old. Competitors must wear the traditional costume to include a skirt, apron and head scarf. They must of course carry a frying pan containing a pancake and the winner on crossing the line must toss her pancake before she is greeted by the verger with the traditional kiss of peace. The race is immediately followed by a Shriving service in the Parish Church when the official Olney and Liberal prizes are presented. The word “shrove” is derived from the word “shrive” which means to confess your sins and receive absolution in return, a necessary act before entering the period of Lent.
Pancakes around the world – Just about every country has its own version of the pancake. Some of the best-known are: buckwheat flour galettes from Brittany as well as the chickpea-flour socca of Nice, and many other crepes that are found all over France; then there are the chickpea/flour farinata of Liguria, and chestnut flour necci from Lucca and Pistoia in Italy; sweet Cretan tiganetes of Greece; then there are the exotic fragrant rosewater-spiked ataif of the Middle East; comforting potato latkes and Ashkenazi cheese blintzes of Israel; Moroccan semolina baghrir; numerous spicy chickpea and black-eye bean pancakes of Africa; huge crisp wheat-flour and potato pancakes of the Netherlands; and finally Russian buckwheat-flour blinis…..the variety is exciting and the list appears endless.
In England we also used to have our regional variations, Gloucester pancakes were made with suet, which gave them a rich, grainy texture and they were the size of a large scone, fried in lard, and served with golden syrup – good heavens! Elsewhere, there were “harvest pancakes for the poor” and “cream pancakes for the rich”. The former were quick-cooking portable pancakes that were eaten by farm labourers; the batter was made with pale ale, powdered ginger and chopped apple; small ladlefuls of the batter were then cooked in lard. The pancakes for the rich on the other hand, were large and very thin. They were made with cream, nutmeg, dark sherry, rosewater or orange flower water, and cooked in butter, a version of my quire of paper pancakes.
The recipe below is my basic pancake batter and it will yield about fifteen VERY thin pancakes, you must make sure that the batter is poured on as thinly as possible; you can of course increase the quantities and also enrich the batter if you wish. I hope you enjoy your pancakes today and you all have a flipping good Pancake Day, sorry! I will see you all later, Karen
Basic Pancake Batter
|Serves||6 to 8 pancakes|
|Prep time||1 hour|
|Cook time||20 minutes|
|Total time||1 hour, 20 minutes|
|By author||Karen S Burns-Booth|
- 125g plain flour
- pinch of salt
- 1 medium egg
- 300ml milk
- 25g melted butter
|Step 1||Mix flour and salt in a basin, make a hollow in the centre and drop in the egg. |
Stir with a wooden spoon and add the milk gradually, until all the flour is worked in.
|Step 2||Beat well and add remaining milk and the melted butter.|
|Step 3||The consistency should be like single cream.|
|Step 4||Cooking: For each pancake, heat a small amount of butter in a frying pan. When it begins to smoke, stir the batter and pour approximately 3 tablespoons into the frying pan. |
When golden brown underneath, turn and cook other side.
|Step 5||Serving: Turn out on greaseproof paper, sprinkle with sugar and roll up or fold into quarters. Place on a hot dish and serve immediately with honey, jam, syrup, lemon or orange juice.|
|Step 6||Pancakes keep well in the refrigerator and can be frozen.|
lovely Karen! found out so many things I didn’t know. must make pancakes today! happy pancake day :-))
Thanks Karin! I love pancake day,gives me the chance to indulge without guilt!
divine pancakes… lovely pics too!
Thanks Dom, have you been flipping today?
Your pancakes looks amazing! Great presentation!
Thanks Marina! xx
Happy Pancake Day to you! I have just made a stack of these ready to be demolished after school. So delicious aren’t they? Love the way you have made them lovely and thin, just what I like to do myself. That way you can eat more of them 🙂
I LOVE them all thin and lacy and with sugar and lemon, I am just a traditionalist!
Goodness, I really let Shrove Tuesday sneak up on me this year. How is it already the end of February? Of course, we don’t observe Lent, so it’s thankfully not my last opportunity for a crêpe over the next forty days. I’d never heard of a “quire” before–what a great word.
That’s the ticket Lauren, get that crêpe pan out and get flipping!
What Kate Baked says
What an interesting post! Too often I find myself greedily devouring cakes and bakes without thinking for a moment where they might originate from. And what lovely pictures of the pancake race!
Thanks Kate! I am fascinated with those old photos, and love the fact that the swift housewife is miles ahead of everyone else!
Janice (Farmersgirl) says
Lovely looking pancakes Karen. I wonder if they still do the pancake race?
They do still do the pancake race Janice, will see if I can find the current link!
Wonderful post Karen. Loved your pictures, both of pancakes and of racers. Want to tuck into your quire with gusto and then sample all those other delightful sounding pancakes. AND that’s after I’ve just eaten three pancakes of my own. Two filled with mushrooms and goat’s cheese and one with sugar and lemon – all delicious. Love pancakes 🙂
Thanks Choclette, I LOVE the sound of your mushrooms and goats cheese pancakes, that’s my kind of combo for a savoury pancake supper.
Happy Pancake Day! Thanks for the (virtual) pancake you flipped to me this morning (oh dear that sounds rude but you know what I mean!) Love pancakes with lemon and sugar and would happily eat a quire of your pancakes if I could – I suspect I may only manage a few. I’m still lusting after your seafood pancakes…
LOL! My seafood pancakes were a hit here – must make them again, and soon!
I love your blog – makes me drool!