Shrove Tuesday? How about Trans fat Tuesday?
It’s never too early to start considering Shrove Tuesday. A mere four weeks from now pancake mixture will be idiosyncratically prepared across the land, someone will stoically offer to have the first out of the pan, lemon juice producers will see a peak in sales, and many bellies will be deeply satisfied after their hard slog through January surviving on pittance (you know who you are fatties).
There are two such recipes, beyond my mothers, that have caught my attention in the many years I’ve been eating pancakes. The first is Rowley Leigh’s that appeared in the FT in 2005. The Brownbookproject has been endorsing it ever since it is just that good. The key is leaving the batter in the fridge for an hour before making the pancakes. The result can only be described as melt-in-your-mouth-like-silky-lace-deliciousness. Rowley Leigh rightly advised to stick to lemon and sugar as an adornment. Devastatingly, the recipe is no longer available online. A cutting certainly exists somewhere in the Brownbookproject Archives so I shall try to dig it out.
However there is a contender. It is these pancakes I made for breakfast this morning, from The Times. They are healthy, and pancakes, and sounded too good to be true. Sitting here writing after having eaten three I can confirm they are very tasty too. So the question is: whose should I make for Pancake Day in four weeks time?
Admittedly this is not a true battle (the headline was just attention grabbing) in the sense of one versus the other; ontological problems exist. Leigh’s pancakes are borne out of the tradition of cooking the last few items in the parlour before Lent, and so are easily made and inexpensive. The spelt pancakes with blueberries contain ingredients one would hardly have laying around. I for one didn’t realise how fucking expensive a vanilla pod is; these pancakes are quite a luxury.
Furthermore the pancake recipe in The Times is a breakfast pancake. They contain ingredients that are digested slowly and thereby release protein and nutrients steadily negating the need for snacks. The preparation contains more steps. For example, I had to split the vanilla pod length ways and scrape the seeds out with a knife. They are essentially based on the Americano-Australasian model where pancakes are eaten regularly and at breakfast time. Indeed in Australia we had pancakes for our Christmas Day breakfast made out of instant pancake mix (just add water and shake). Yet the spelt with blueberries are flavoursome and satisfying. The blueberries burst in your mouth and the notes of vanilla make for a sensory experience, which by any standard, contribute to a delectable Sunday breakfast.
You can see the crux then. They are not directly comparable recipes even though they both produce ‘pancakes’. It’s not a question of whose are better as what parameters would you set down to judge them on?. No, it’s a question of tradition versus the healthy eating discourse.
If it were not for the quotidian factor inherent in the concept of the spelt ‘pancakes’ with blueberries (spelt of course only being rediscovered- it is felt) then I would be tempted to opt for them on Pancake Day, as I am far from immune to eating healthily. As such it is the spectre of going for two years without a good old fashioned pancake that hands Rowley Leigh victory. Now I just need to find the damned recipe.
**UPDATE** I’m going to try these oatmeal pancakes this Sunday morning and if I like them (which by the sounds of it I will) then I’ll make them for breakfast on Shrove Tuesday. What a work around eh? Now I can have my (pan)cake and eat it.
**UPDATE** Yeah I just realised I negated the whole dicussion about whose pancakes to have.