Quire of Pancakes (1714)
A quire of paper is one-twentieth of a ream and, depending on the type of paper, usually equates to either 24 or 25 sheets. This recipe, then, is for a stack of rich, cream pancakes, wafer-thin as paper, served as a cake. Instead of serving the pancakes individually, the pancake pile is cut into wedges, like a cake, and served with a dusting of icing sugar and a rich sauce.This is an adaptation of Mary Kettilby’s 1714 recipe, but recipes for this style of pancake stretch back into the 17th century. Although the unusual method of stacking the pancakes is implied in the older recipes, Mary Kettilby’s is the first to give detailed instructions and to give the dish its descriptive name. A further instruction, from a much older recipe, was to cook the batter ‘in a pan no bigger than a trenchard plate’, which is similar in size to a modern side plate. The smaller the diameter of the pancakes, the greater the number you could make from the batter and thus the greater and more impressive the height of the stack. Cooking the pancakes on one side only makes the individual layers easy to see in the sliced portions, with the browned undersides of each pancake being separated by a creamy white upper layer.This recipe is an ideal make-ahead dessert for a special occasion. The pancakes can be prepared in advance and stacked together then, when required, gently warmed in the oven while the sauce is being heated.
- 35g butter
- 200ml double cream
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 egg whites
- 25g plain flour
- 25ml cream sherry
- 1½ tsp orange-flower water
- 25g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
- For the sauce:
- 60ml cream sherry
- 60ml lemon juice
- 35g sugar
- icing sugar, for dusting
In a pan over a low heat, warm the butter in the cream until melted then set aside to cool.
In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and whites.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour to a paste with the sherry and stir into the whisked eggs. Add the orange-flower water and sugar then mix in the cooled cream.
Set aside for 2 hours to allow the flavours to mingle.
To cook: Heat a small frying pan (about 12–15cm in diameter).
Prepare the pan by cooking a throwaway pancake. The mixture is so rich, the cooking process also prepares the pan for the next pancake, so no additional butter is required. Alternatively, use a tiny amount of butter to grease the pan before cooking the first pancake.
For each pancake, spoon in about 1 tablespoon of batter. It will froth up and bubble, and you’ll need to tilt the pan to make sure the mixture spreads evenly. I find it easiest to put the batter into a squeezy bottle.
Fry the pancake until golden brown on the bottom and edges. Do not turn it over, but slide the pancake on to a plate and sprinkle with a little caster sugar.Continue with the rest of the batter, stacking the cooked pancakes one on top of another, each sprinkled with a little sugar.
For the sauce: Put all of the sauce ingredients into a small pan with 60ml cold water and simmer gently until reduced to a syrup.Serve the pancakes dusted with icing sugar and drizzled with sauce.