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'Pancakes, very good': recipes from the RCP archives

A lovely recipe for pancakes can be found in Mary Kettilby’s compilation of culinary, medical and surgical recipes, which was first published in 1714 and then revised several times throughout the first half of the 18th century.

The ingredients in this recipe seem rather extravagant to our modern eyes. Today we might just combine flour, milk and egg, maybe with a little melted butter. This recipe uses cream, spices, and even fortified wine (sack) to produce a much richer result:

Take a pint of thick cream, three spoonfuls of sack, and half a pint of flower, six eggs (but three whites,) one grated nutmeg, a quarter of a pound of melted butter, a very little salt, and some sugar; fry these thin in a dry pan.

Receipt book, mostly medical, with a number of cookery receipts, 1644–91

A late 17th-century receipt book in the archives records a similar pancake recipe, which adds in beer as well as sack:

Take a quart of fine flower, a pint of sacke, halfe a pint of ale, six or eight spoonfulls of faire water, eight yolkes of eggs and three whites, a little nutmegg, ginger, cinnamon and salt, blend all these together and straine them, they will make excellent pancakes.

Most of the recipes in this manuscript notebook are for medical remedies, rather than for food dishes. Some are even for veterinary use.

Katie Birkwood, rare books and special collections librarian

Most of the recipes in this manuscript notebook are for medical remedies, rather than for food dishes. Some are even for veterinary use. The pancakes appear above a cure for ‘a quartan ague’ (malaria) and ‘a drink for most diseases in a horse’. Elsewhere we find instructions for making plague water, ‘sausages without skinnes made of pork or veale’, and ‘oyntment for the ricketts’.

Whatever recipe you follow, and however you decide to eat them, we hope you enjoy your pancakes.

Katie Birkwood, rare books and special collections librarian

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