Shrove Tuesday Discovery: My Brit Ancestors Ate Pancakes Topped with Sugar and Lemon, Oh My

Photo Elliot Smith - the GUARDIAN

In perusing the UK’s Telegraph (no recipe just a discussion about the auld pancake of yore) and the Guardian this fine Shrove Tuesday, I made a shocking discovery for an American in love with fluffy pancakes topped with butter and syrup:  My Great Grandmother enjoyed thin pancakes (like the French) topped with lemon and sugar.  Brits wax very sentimental about these.

The Guardian provides an overview of the development of the British pancake going back to 1594.  That seems far enough when most humans can’t trace their lineage back more than a few generations.

…[M]odern pancakes are descended from those specifically designed to use up fat before the beginning of Lent, which means they tend to be heavier on the eggs and butter than, say, the fluffy American stack, or the squat Russian blini.

Forewarned is forearmed as they say.  Don’t look to these for any dietary benefit only taste.

Here is a website that will help you convert metric measurements.  Learn to do this because we are going global.

As for the pancakes, the key to remember is this.  The first pancake is always a mess.  That’s just how it is for all of us.  So let the cook eat the first one.  Looks bad; tastes good.  From the Guardian:

Makes about 8

125g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
225ml whole or semi-skimmed milk
Small knob of butter

1. Sift the flour in a large mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre, and pour the egg and the yolk into it. Mix the milk with 2 tbsp water and then pour a little in with the egg and beat together.

2. Whisk the flour into the liquid ingredients, drawing it gradually into the middle until you have a smooth paste the consistency of double cream. Whisk the rest of the milk in until the batter is more like single cream. Cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

3. Heat the butter in a frying pan on a medium-high heat – you only need enough fat to just grease the bottom of the pan. It should be hot enough that the batter sizzles when it hits it.

4. Spread a small ladleful of batter across the bottom of the pan, quickly swirling to coat. Tip any excess away. When it begins to set, loosen the edges with a thin spatula or palette knife, and when it begins to colour on the bottom, flip it over with the same instrument and cook for another 30 seconds. (If you’re feeling cocky, you can also toss the pancake after loosening it: grasp the handle firmly with both hands, then jerk the pan up and slightly towards you.)

5. Pancakes are best eaten as soon as possible, before they go rubbery, but if you’re cooking for a crowd, keep them separate until you’re ready to serve by layering them up between pieces of kitchen roll [could be parchment paper – I wouldn’t use waxed].

The King’s Grand Service – The British Royal Banquet Table Since George IV

Although there is one post here on royal banquets, many have reached this site searching for information on the silver flatware used during a royal banquet.  Not all research has been completed but enough has been unearthed that a few salient facts are available.

As you can see by the following excerpt, more than just flatware comprises the Royal Grand Service:

The magnificent dining silver-gilt used at a State Banquet is from the Grand Service, originally made for George IV when Prince of Wales. It was first used to celebrate the 73rd birthday of his father, George III, in 1811.  As king, George IV continued to add to the service throughout his life, and by his death it included more than 4,000 pieces. Today the Grand Service forms the core of the royal silver and encompasses the best examples of 19th-century design, drawing on Egyptian, Greek, Roman and medieval sources.  The dining plate is dominated by the monumental Mercury and Bacchus and Apples of the Hesperides candelabra, which stand over a metre tall.  Made by the master goldsmith Paul Storr and designed by the sculptor  John  Flaxman,  they  are  always  placed  on  the  table  opposite Her Majesty The Queen and the visiting Head of State. [royalcollection.org]

It is meant to overwhelm.  Looking at the flatware, it is given over to what is called fiddle, thread and shell patterns.  It is best illustrated if we look at the silver flatware “Kings Pattern” that Tiffany produced around the turn of the century and that was wildly popular.  It incorporates many of the decorative details of the above flatware and follows the development of these patterns through the Edwardian Era.  Replicas were found in every hotel in America.

As time permits, more research will be done on this.  Meanwhile, it is hoped that many of your questions have been answered here.  If not, leave your question in a comment.

Mo’s Plum Pudding

Like SamHenry, my maternal Grandmother was also from Britain. She was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1885 and moved to London where she resided until the end of World War 1.

At the end of  the “war to end all wars”, she married my Grandfather and moved to the United States, bringing along her recipe box filled with instructions for preparing traditional English fare.

Every Christmas my Grandmother would spend days & days in the kitchen, baking cookies, fruit cakes & plum pudding as gifts for her family and friends.

Plum pudding was traditionally made in a “bag” & hung for weeks prior to Christmas to enhance the flavor. By the time I came on the scene, my Grandmother had adopted the pudding can* since she liked to make several small puddings to give away as presents.

You can’t get much more traditional English fare at the Christmas holiday than than a good plum pudding.


Mo’s Plum Pudding

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups sifted flour
  • 1 TSP. baking powder
  • 1 TSP. salt
  • 1 TSP. cloves
  • 1 TSP. all spice
  • 1 TSP. nutmeg
  • 2 TSP. cinnamon
  • 1/2 TSP. ginger
  • 1 package brown sugar
  • 1 # chopped beef (suet)
  • 1 package currants
  • 2 # seedless grapes
  • 1 package seeded raisins
  • 1 # chopped, mixed peel
  • slivered almonds, blanched
  • 6 beaten eggs
  • 1 can apple sauce
  • 1 TSP. molasses
  • 1 TSP. almond extract, grated lemon rinds or essence of lemon
  • 1 cup of broth. Can be water, cider or fruit juice

PREPARATION:

  • Mix all ingredients together
  • Grease bottoms and sides of pudding cans*
  • Put wax paper in bottom of cans
  • Fill cans with mixture and cover top with wax paper
  • Steam for about 6 hours or more in roasting pan, with water halfway up side of cans
  • Add boiling water about every hour
  • Remove from water, place on rack and leave covers off cans overnight

*Don’t have any “pudding cans”? Wash & save a few empty soup cans from your kitchen. Recycle – that’s what your Grandma did!

posted by Mountain Republic                                 recipe by Amy Chenevert


William And Harry’s Grandma’s Table(s)

Harry and William ride away from a child educationcenter in Lesotho, Africa 2010

No matter that you travel economy class in the air or by horse on the ground, Princes William and Harry of Great Britain cannot easily claim a casual lifestyle for their Grandma, Queen Elizabeth.

Recently, the Emir of  Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and his wife, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned came for a three-day visit in the UK.  Qatar was a British protectorate until 1971 and Britain seeks closer ties with the kingdom in an attempt to woo new investors in the UK.  Queen Elizabeth pulled out all of the entertainment stops at Windsor Castle.  In the large hall that has been restored since a fire there, she served what seemed hundreds.

The Queen delivers a speech before the banquet

In 2008, the Queen opened up more of Buckingham palace to tourists and a special exhibit was devised focusing on banquets:

Buckingham Palace has been open to the public since 1993.

The ballroom is where the great state banquets are held – there have been 77 held there during the Queen’s reign and 97 in total (of the other 20, 18 were held at Windsor Castle in Berkshire and 2 at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh) – and [since 2009, the public have been] able to see the room as it is when it is laid for for such an occasion.

The popular monarch loves helping to set up the huge table’s layout – and she also helped to set up this display for the public.

This is the scene which has greeted foreign monarchs, presidents and prime ministers – the Buckingham Palace ballroom prepared for a state banquet.

Laid out are seats for 170, more than 2,000 pieces of polished silver-gilt cutlery, 1,104 glasses, 23 flower arrangements and 100 candles in candelabras.

The Palace’s ballroom has been decorated and the enormous dining table laid out with hundreds of pieces of tableware. [Daily Mail]

Behind the scenes preparations for a state banquet featuring staff walking on the table to light candles and make last minute adjustments.

An overview of the collection of flatware and etc. that are used at a banquet at Buckingham Palace where most have been held until recently when Prince Philip suggested Windsor.  This was shot during an exhibition at the Palace in 2008 that was open to the public:

St. Georges Hall, Windsor. Destroyed During a Fire in recent time, it is amazing that furnishings and paintings were not in place since the fire was the result of faulty wiring during remodeling. St. George is the patron saint of England.

Finally, enjoy reading about the most decadent royal banquet ever.  [Daily Mail]

Napkin Folding Spoken Here – From SamHenry

The beautiful Wye River Valley.

In the summer of 1966, my brother and I were tramping about Britain and we treated ourselves to a stay at the Chase Hotel, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire just because we drove past and liked how it looked!  Serendipity is the best travel planning guide.

We had no idea that its main restaurant was gourmet and had been awarded Britain’s highest honor, an AA Rosette. This inspired the owners to have napkins folded in the shape of a rose on each service plate at table.

My brother who fancied  himself a chef but was more often mistaken for one of the Beach Boys  at airports, was fascinated.  Soon he was getting up with the sun and wending  his sleepy way to the dining room to be educated in the mysteries of napkin folding.  He also satisfied his chef fantasy by ordering Steak Diane made at the table each of the four nights we were there until he had that down.

♣ Napkin folding

was practiced in the 18th and early 19th centuries in Europe and America by people in service who had entire guide books for the purpose to train them.

I found one – a fragile “paperback” in a used book store a few years back and bought it for my brother.  Now, through the magic of the internet, instructions formerly confined within such covers or to the memory of an aged grandmother or  an old flunky would have limited the instances of the art found on tables today.  Many of the old patterns may be found here.

The rosette – alone or with a cup of soup nestled in its center – is found below:

Rose napkin pattern

The Rose Napkin Fold

Despite looking fairly elaborate, this fold is an easy one, and it can be done with almost any variety of napkin. Display small bowls or glasses on top of these, or use them as novelty cocktail napkins.


Napkin Fold #1
1. Lay the napkin face-down in front of you.
Napkin Fold #2
2. Fold the two right corners of the napkin in so the tips rest at the center.
Napkin Fold #3
3. Fold the remaining two corners of the napkin in so the tips meet with the last two in the center.
Napkin Fold #4
4. Once again, begin folding the outer corners in so they meet at the center.
Napkin Fold #5
5. Once all of the tips are folded you are left with a square about 1/4 the size of the unfolded napkin.
Napkin Fold #6
6. Flip it over.
Napkin Fold #7
7. Fold the corners in so they meet in the center and then place something sturdy in the center, or hold it with your fingers.
Napkin Fold #8
8. While maintaining downward pressure in the center of the napkin, reach underneath each corner and pull out the flaps to create petals.
Napkin Fold #9
9. Remove the center weight and your rose should look as pictured here.
Finished Rose Napkin Fold
10. If you like you can reach underneath the center of each side and pull out a second set of petals to fancy it up some more. Place something in the center and you’re done, have a rosy meal!