After a week considering griddle cakes, all that has become clear is that one cook’s griddle cake is another’s crumpet, hoe-cake, Johnny-cake, drop scone, drop cake, flannel cake, Singing Hinnie, Welsh cake, flapjack, slapjack, slapper, or batter-cake. In some cook’s minds it is also indistinguishable from a fritter, pancake, or pikelet.
The explanation of the multitude of overlapping names and recipes of course is that griddle cakes represent the simplest and earliest form of household bread. They require no oven, but only a fire and a flat pan or hot stone. They are almost infinitely adaptable, and can be made with any grain and a wide range of flavouring ingredients. They are so universal and so basic that there are as many regional names as there are regions.
The 1883 edition of the Boston Cooking School Cookbook dares to be definitive on some of these names:
“For convenience and clearness, the following names will be used in this work:-
Griddle Cakes: any kind of small, thin batter-cakes cooked on a griddle.
Pancakes: larger, thin batter-cakes, made without soda, and cooked in a small frying-pan.
French or Rolled Pancakes: same as the preceding, buttered, sweetened, and rolled.
Fried Drop Cakes or Fried Muffins: any muffin mixture, dropped from a spoon into deep hot fat.
Fritters: a thinner mixture made without soda, either plain or with meat, fruit, or fish, and cooked by dropping into deep hot fat.”
The same edition has recipes for basic griddle cakes, rice or hominy, bread, and raised Graham griddle-cakes. The 1896 edition includes Sour Milk, Sweet Milk, Entire Wheat, Corn, Rice (2 types), and Bread Griddle Cakes. This final recipe seems to me to be particularly interesting, in that it is a way of recycling old ‘bread’ into new.
Bread Griddle Cakes.
1 ½ cups fine stale breadcrumbs
1 ½ cups scalded milk
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup flour
½ teaspoon flour
½ teaspoon salt
3 ½ teaspoons baking powder.
Add milk and butter to crumbs, and soak till crumbs are soft; add eggs well beaten, then flour, salt, and baking powder mixed and sifted. Cook as other griddle cakes.
Quotation for the Day.
There is such a build-up of crud in my oven there is only room to bake a single cupcake.