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Gloucester Pancakes, Gloucestershire

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Pancakes in one form or another have been part of British cookery for centuries, millennia even. Think of Alfred and the cakes he left to burn. They are simple to make, use pretty basic ingredients, and are filling. When times are good they make a good carrier for other flavours too – cheese, fruit, honey, preserves, for example.

Gloucester pancake dough uses suet as the fat ingredient, giving them a texture variously described as sandy or grainy, certainly with more to it than our standard Pancake Day offerings. Gloucestershire was sheep country in medieval times, so there would have been plenty of suet available to provoke the need for such a recipe. And it was pig country too, with its celebrated local breed the Gloucester Old Spot , hence doubtless the tradition of cooking these pancakes in lard.

The pancakes are thick and of small diameter – about 5cm would be usual – more like Welsh cakes or scones than what we generally think of today as pancakes.

As a way of using up the fat forbidden through Lent Gloucester pancakes are very effective, with lard and suet both featuring in the preparation. And as fare for the area’s agricultural workers they were useful too, highly calorific to fuel those engaged in manual labour and easily carried when cold, though they are at their best hot from the frying pan – or bakestone, as would have been the case until the 19th century.

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