Monday, April 11, 2016

The Pancakes at the End of the Lane

I recently reread one of the shorter books by Neil Gaiman - The Ocean at the End of the Lane. The unnamed main character has returned to his childhood home after a death in the family (we are led to assume), and tells the story about the family living at the end of the lane. He ended up in their home several times during scary and confusing moments, and part of the "magic" of the three women included delicious, comforting food. I remember an apple custard type dessert being mentioned, and I remember these pancakes:
"Lettie cooked us pancakes on a big metal griddle, on the kitchen stove. They were paper-thin, and as each pancake was done Lettie would squeeze lemon onto it, and plop a blob of plum jam into the center, and roll it tightly, like a cigar."
I had always listened to the audio previously, so this was the first time I had seen the ephemeral material at the end. A short Q&A between Joe Hill and the author asked a very important question - do the pancakes described exist and what is the recipe? They do exist, and Neil shared the recipe. So of course I had to make them! While a bit squidgier than crepes I've made previously, and although I had to use blueberry jam after not finding plum, these made a delicious and comforting breakfast.

Pancakes at the End of the Lane

  • 1 cup of ordinary white flour
  • 2 eggs
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups of milk and water (a cup and a half of milk and a cup of water mixed)
  • 1 tablespoon of either vegetable oil or melted butter
Directions (slightly modified)
Put the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Crack the eggs in and whisk/fork the egg into the flour.

Slowly add the milk/water mixture, stirring as you go, until there are no lumps and you have a liquid the consistency of a not too thick cream. (I'm guessing you add the butter to the batter and use additional butter to grease the pan but it doesn't include this step.)

Put the mixture in the fridge overnight.

Grease or butter or oil a non-stick frying pan. Heat it until it’s really hot. (I used medium temp on my stove.)

Stir the mixture you just took from the fridge thoroughly because the flour will all be at the bottom. Get an even consistency.

Ladle some mixture into the pan, thinly covering the whole of the base of the pan. When the base is golden, flip it (or, if you are brave, toss it). Cook another 30 seconds on the other side.
Squeeze lemon juice lightly over the surface, sprinkle with granulated sugar, and plop a blob of jam in there before rolling up like a cigar.


kristin said...

This is very similar to the "recipe" my dad uses when he makes crepes for us:
2-3 eggs
1 c milk
1 c flour
1 tsp salt
butter for frying

When it comes to actually making them, it really comes down to getting the thickness right, which the description in the book is similar to what we look for. Not only were these breakfasts at least 1 weekend a month as a kid, they were quite often also brinner (breakfast for dinner, especially on Fridays during Lent) and also form the centerpiece for our Christmas Eve blintzes.

I'm not sure why the recipe calls for leaving it overnight, there's no leavening in it that needs to work its magic (unlike my favorite-ever oatmeal buttermilk pancake recipe

Rachel said...

I grew up eating what we called English pancakes (which, I've been told, are called Swedish pancakes in England) - 2 eggs, 2 cups of flour, 2 cups milk. Top with butter, sugar, and lemon juice. Roll up to eat. I love seeing all the variations.