Pancakes are one of those non-binary dishes. They can be served with either sweet or savoury toppings or a combination of the two. Beetroot too is as comfortable with sweet flavours as savoury. Raffald doesn’t indicate exactly how much sugar should be added to this ‘pretty corner dish for a dinner or supper’ so I erred on the side of caution to ensure these can be enjoyed with any of the accompaniments below. Given that Shrove Tuesday was historically the last culinary hurrah before the privations of Lent it seems apt to celebrate it with such a colourful and versatile dish.
If you want to find out more about why we eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday take a look at my article on the English Heritage blog.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
Makes 16 x 6-8cm pancakes
Based on a recipe in The Experienced English Housekeeper by Elizabeth Raffald (1769)
1 large cooked beetroot around 300-350g (or several smaller beets totally the same weight)
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 large egg plus 1 yolk
3 tbsp single cream
2 tbsp brandy or water
30g melted butter plus around 20g for brushing
Good pinch grated nutmeg & salt
If you are cooking the beetroot from scratch, wrap it in foil then place on a baking tray. Bake at 180℃ for 1½ – 2 hours (this time will be reduced if you are using smaller beetroots). Raffald suggests boiling the beetroot but I prefer this method as it intensifies the flavour.
Peel and chop the beetroot then place in a blender or food processor along with the remaining ingredients. Blitz until you have a smooth yet fairly thick batter.
Preheat a non stick griddle or frying pan over a medium heat. Brush the surface with a little melted butter. Pour or spoon small amounts of the batter on the griddle so that they form pancakes roughly 5cm in diameter. You should be able to make several each time. Using the back of a spoon spread each purple ‘puddle’ in a circular motion so that you have a pancake of 6-8cm. After a few minutes you will start to see bubbles rise to the surface of the pancake. These pancakes are rather delicate so using a thin spatula or fish slice (I find a metal one ideal for this) carefully flip the pancakes over and cook for another minute or two. Keep the cooked pancakes warm in a low oven whilst you make the rest, remembering to brush the griddle with butter each time before you pour on the batter. Serve with one of the suggested accompaniments below.
Each of the following serve 4
Herby Goats Cheese
150g soft mild goats cheese
1½ tbsp chopped mixed herbs
1 egg white (you’ll only need around half of this)
Beat the herbs into the goats cheese. Whisk the egg white to stiff peaks. Fold around half of it into the goats cheese. Dollop on top of the pancakes. You can scatter with chopped walnuts too if you have any to hand.
Blood Orange Curd
Adapted from a Delia Smith recipe
Grated zest and juice of 1 blood orange
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 large eggs
75g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter, diced
Mix the zest, fruit juices and eggs together in a heat proof bowl. Add the sugar and butter then place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir with a balloon whisk until thickened – around 20 minutes. Spread on pancakes and eat.
Pancetta Wrapped Apple & Maple Syrup
2 small to medium eating apples e.g. Cox
Juice ½ lemon
16 thin rashers pancetta
Maple syrup for drizzling
Preheat the oven to 200℃.
Quarter and core the apples (leave the skin on). Cut each quarter in half so that each apple yields 8 pieces. Brush each piece of apple with the lemon juice to stop them from discolouring.
Wrap one slice of pancetta around a piece of apple.
Place on a baking tray lined with foil or non stick baking parchment. Bake for 15 minutes, turning once, or until the pancetta is starting to brown.
Serve with the warm pancakes drizzled with maple syrup.