18th Century Pancakes
I discovered this recipe for A Quire of Paper crepe pancakes from the Townsends site.
If you’re not familiar with Townsends, they specialize in historical 18th century living. Cooking, clothing, writing and more – for example, providing costume pieces and accessories for television and film (Outlander etc). Their YouTube channel is one of my favorites, and if you’re interested in history, you’ll love it too.
This particular recipe interpretation comes from the 1783 cookbook, The London Art of Cookery, by John Farley. I’m including the link to their recipe at the end of the post, but I will give you a few tips from my experience.
Much depends on a well-oiled pan…
First of all, crepes can be tricky. Whether they be 18th century or 21st century. However, after reading the Townsends blog about this recipe, I did add the additional Tablespoon of flour, and I did use clarified butter.
You’ll also want to make sure your frying pan is well greased – after each crepe. I used a Le Creuset enamel-coated cast iron pan and it worked beautifully.
Another thing I did was to ‘rein’ in the crepes.
The batter is thin and runs quickly, but I found if I held the edges back with my spatula just a bit, they very quickly set, and it was then easier to flip them. As for the flip itself, I did it with a spatula, and even if it folded over upon itself, it was easily unfolded.
Back in the 18th century day, they would flip the pancakes in the pan.
This is something you might want to try, but if you’re using cast iron, you better have a strong wrist – or you better be using a small pan.
If you have a crepe pan, this technique would be easier to achieve.
I didn’t want to risk bone breakage, so I forewent that method.
In the recipe, it says to fold the stack in half when serving. I was using smaller plates, and decided to cut them into four wedges, stack two wedges per person. You really get the ‘quire’ effect with this presentation.
18th century vs 21st century
Probably the biggest difference between a modern crepe and this 18th century one, is the inclusion of ginger. I like ginger, but I don’t love it. Or rather, I should say, I like it in small amounts. I was afraid the ginger was going to be overpowering – but it wasn’t. Not at all.
The ‘syrup’ is an optional sauce made with Sherry Wine. Or you can leave them plain with just a bit of lemon juice and powdered sugar. I went with the latter, but you could certainly add maple syrup too if you weren’t strickly adhering to the 18th century version.
This recipe, A Quire of Paper, is so named because it looks like a stack of paper – equaling a quire – which I just looked up to mean 25 sheets.
Outside of the joy of cooking a historical recipe, A Quire of Paper Pancake Crepes is just delicious.
If you’re interested in historical breakfast, you might also like Francatelli Victorian Omelet