Scotch pancakes are one of many Scottish cakes cooked on a flat bakestone or girdle (griddle to the English). The Scottish poet Robert Burns described his native land as a ‘Land o’ Cakes’. He may have meant the oatcake in particular, but ‘cake’ also meant more generally any form of bread (leavened or unleavened), or cereal-based baked foodstuff. A pancake was a ‘cake’ cooked on a heated flat-surface; historically a bakestone, hearthstone or girdle, and eventually a pan. Scotch pancakes are also known as ‘drop’ or ‘dropped scones’, because soft dollops of mixture are dropped onto the cooking surface. According to Laura Mason, the Scottish are the originators of the scone (a subset of the cake genus), and the ‘Scotch pancake’ is one of its many forms. I look forward to exploring other members of the Scottish scone family shortly…
The method of cooking on a heated surface is a very ancient one. If you only have a wood or peat fuelled fire for your cooking, it is a simple matter to bury a stone in the embers, or to prop a metal pan over the flames in order to heat the cooking surface. The Welsh have similar girdle-cooked foods of long heritage – such as crempogs (ffroes) and Welsh cakes (The Oxford Companion to Food mentions a theory that the Scottish miners who travelled south to work in the Welsh coal districts of Glamorganshire, were responsible for bringing the girdle pancake recipe with them.). Northern England shared the oatcake with the Scottish Highlands, as both areas were well suited to the cultivation of oats, although different regions prepared the oatcakes in slightly different way.
- 175g (6 oz) self-raising flour
- 1 level teaspoon baking powder
- 40g (1 ½ oz) caster sugar
- 1 large egg
- About 200ml (7 fl oz) milk
- Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar. Add the egg, and gradually beat in a little of the milk at a time to make a thick, smooth batter.
- Grease a heavy-based frying pan and turn up the heat.
- Once hot enough add tablespoons of the pancake mix to the pan. Keep an eye on the batter, when you see bubbles appearing get ready to flip them over! Turn the pancakes and cook until golden brown. Remember the second side of a pancake only takes half the amount of time to cook as the
Wrap in a tea towel to keep warm while you use up the remaining batter or eat them hot from the pan!