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Taste test for Shrove Tuesday

  21 Feb '20   |  Posted by: Birlinn

Every home-baker has a favourite recipe for a pancake, or a drop scone – all slightly different, all demolished in a moment when they appear from the kitchen. As Shrove Tuesday approaches (25 February 2020 – traditionally the last day of feasting before Lent but widely celebrated as ‘Pancake Day’), I’ve been trying out recipes that appear in Birlinn books along with an old favourite from a battered and splattered book that has been on my bookshelf since I was 7 years old. Make a batch of each, take the taste test and see which you prefer – we take no responsibilty for weight gain!

The first is for Scotch Pancakes and is to be found in Scottish Baking by Sue Lawrence

This was my favourite over the taste testing (in front of the Scotland v Italy Rugby match). Light and fluffy, sweet enough but not overwhelmingly so.

  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 level tablespoon golden caster sugar
  • 1 large free-range egg, beaten
  • 175ml milk
  • Sift the first two ingredients into a bowl and add a pinch of salt. Stir in the sugar and make a well in the middle.
  • Add the egg and, with a balloon whisk, whisk together and gradually add the milk, whisking all the time. Continue whisking until you have a smooth batter.
  • Preheat the girdle (or large heavy frying pan) to medium. Using a piece of kitchen paper, smear it all over with a thin film of butter. Once it is hot (mine takes 4-5 minutes to heat up over a low heat) drop spoonfuls of batter onto the girdle, four at a time. If you want dainty little ones, use a dessertspoon; for slightly larger, use a tablespoon. After about 1.5–2 minutes you will notice large bubbles forming on the surface of each. Using a spatula, flip each one over and continue cooking for a further 1-1.5 minutes until just done. (They should take about 3–3.5 minutes altogether.) Continue with the remaining batter, re-smearing the girdle with a tiny amount of butter for each batch.
  • Remove and keep warm – I put them in a folded tea towel over a wire rack – then serve with butter and jam.

The second is for Maple Syrup Pancakes from Easy Peasy: Real Cooking for Kids by Mary Contini and Pru Irvine.

This was a clear favourite for two out of four of my tasters. Sweet, light, gorgeous!

  • 100g of plain flour
  • 300ml of semi-skimmed milk
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of caster sugar
  • a blob of butter
  • maple syrup to drizzle on top
  1. Put everything except the butter into a food processor and whizz until you get a smooth batter – thick like custard.
  2. Put the frying pan on the stove on a medium heat and add a small blob of butter. When it starts to sizzle, add a tablespoon of the pancake batter.
  3. Move the pan from side to side so the batter coats the bottom of the frying pan.
  4. Lower the heat and when you see small bubbles all over the surface of the pancake one side is cooked. Use the spatula to carefully turn the pancake over and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  5. Slide it onto a warm place.
  6. Cook all the batter the same way.
  7. Drizzle with maple syrup.

The third is a little different, a recipe for Beremeal Drop Scones from The Book of Bere: Orkney’s Ancient Grain by Liz Ashworth.

Nice flavour, good with butter melting off the sides – but a little heavier than the other two.

  • 115g beremeal
  • 15g sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 egg
  • Pinch of salt
  • Milk to mix
  • Butter to cook

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl ad make a well in the centre. Add the egg and slowly beat in the milk to make a batter the consistency of thick cream. Heat a girdle or frying pan on medium to high heat and add a little butter. Drop a dessertspoon of butter into the pan and cook for about 3 minutes, flip over and repeat on the other side. Remove from the pan and serve hot with bacon or ice cream, or drizzle with birch syrup and serve.

I also made a drop scone recipe that has been my favourite over the many years. It comes from a lovely old battered book from childhood – The Winnie the Pooh Cookbook – and adds a little golden syrup to the recipe. Truly delicious but perhaps a little heavier than the Sue Lawrence recipe above.

With grateful thanks to the tasters and to Wendy Ewart for her home-made Blackcurrant and Raspberry jam. Yum!

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