This delicate dessert pancake recipe from Hannah Glasse was very fashionable during the eighteenth century and might have been found on the Washingtons' table as part of a second course.
Quire is a Middle English term meaning twenty-four or twenty-five sheets of paper of the same size and stock. It is used here to help the cook visualize the desired paper-thinness of the pancake. "[B]utter the Pan for the first Pancake; let them run as thin as possible," Glasse instructed. Her words were repeated verbatim in a Mary Randolph recipe written some seventy-five years later.
This recipe is a modern adaptation of the 18th-century original. It was created by culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump for the book Dining with the Washingtons.
AVAILABLE FROM THE SHOPS
3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
10 tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling over pancakes
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for frying
5 tablespoons sherry
1 teaspoon orange-flower water
Stewed fruit or preserves for serving (optional)
Lightly whipped cream for serving (optional)
- Sift together the flour, sugar, and nutmeg.
- Beat the egg yolks until smooth and lemon-colored. Combine with the cream and melted butter, mixing together well. Gradually add to the flour mixture, blending thoroughly. Stir in the sherry and orange-flower water. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or as long as overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 200°F.
- When ready to cook the pancakes, melt about 1 teaspoon of butter in a small sauté pan set over medium to medium-low heat. Make a small test pancake to ensure that the pan is the right temperature and that the batter has the right consistency. The batter can be thinned with a little milk or cream, if necessary; it should have the consistency of pudding, falling in splats from a spoon.
- Prepare one pancake at a time, using a scant 1/4 cup of batter per pancake. Pour the batter into the hot pan, tilting it so the batter can run evenly over the bottom. Cook until slightly puffy and pale yellow, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, until set.
- Slide the pancake onto a plate, and sprinkle with sugar. Set aside in the oven to keep warm while preparing the rest of the pancakes, stacking and sprinkling sugar over each one.
- Serve the pancakes plain in a stack, or serve them one at a time filled with stewed fruit or preserves, rolled (if desired), and topped with lightly whipped cream.
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