The wind in the willows country cookbook, 124pp.
by Arabella Boxer
Methuen Children’s Books, 1983
Cooking on page 32
We loved the book Wind in the Willows, so I couldn’t resist buying this whimsical book by the English food guru, Arabella Boxer.
Boxer wrote many years for Vogue magazine. She’s also written numerous cookbooks—I own at least three—and twice won the Glenfiddich Award for Food Writer of the Year.
Now in her 80s, Boxer prefers simple recipes—perhaps like the ones in this cookbook. Each chapter focuses on recipes to accompany activities such as staying at home, staying in bed, going on excursions and celebrating. More than half the recipes are starred as easy.
This is page-32 option is great one for kids to make.
75 g (3 oz) flour
a pinch of salt
150 ml (1/4 pint milk, or milk and water mixed)
a little suet, or butter
castor sugar and 2 lemons
or 200 g (7 oz) cream cheese and 2 tablespoons clear honey
or some cold stewed apples
If possible, make the pancake mixture 1 hour before using.
If making by hand, sift the flour into a large bowl with the salt, make a well in the centre and break in the egg. Have the milk, or milk and water, in a jug in your left hand and a wire whisk in your right hand (assuming you are right-handed). Start to beat the egg, drawing in a little of the flour around the edges, at the same time pouring in the liquid slowly. Beat constantly, and try to time it so that by the time all the liquid is used up, all the flour is has been drawn into the batter. Beat for an extra minute or two, then leave to rest for an hour if possible. Beat again just before using.
If making in a food processor, simply put the sifted flour and salt into the container, add the egg, and process, adding the liquid through the hole in the lid while processing. Leave to rest, then process again just before using.
To make the pancakes: use a small heavy frying pan over a gentle heat. When it is hot, rub it with a small piece of fat—a piece of suet on the end of a fork is best for this job, but a buttery piece of paper will do. Have a large spoon or ladle half full of batter and pour it in, tilting the pan as you do so, so that it spreads into a nice round shape. Cook gently for about 2 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time. When the pancake slides around easily, it can be turned over carefully, and cooked for another minute, or minute and a half.
The first couple of pancakes are often failures, so don’t be ashamed to throw them away. They will get better as you go on, and the pan gets hotter. Pile them up on a plate and serve as soon as possible. They can be sprinkled with castor sugar and served with a lemon quarter or rolled around a mixture of cream cheese beaten until smooth with a little clear honey, or some cold stewed apple. Enough for 4.
How it played out
This has been on my to-do list for about two years. Most mornings, Poor John wakes up early (5:30) and goes for an uphill walk or a bike ride. There’s a routine when he gets home an hour later—get the newspaper from the front yard, brew the coffee, have a shower, eat breakfast and settle down with the now-ready coffee and newspaper.
By the time I’m awake and the sun has come up enough to take photos, he’s already eaten and has brushed his teeth. So the other day I wagged a finger at him and said you’re having pancakes tomorrow.
Because there were just the two of us, I made half a batch using the instructions for making by hand. I even managed to finish beating in the flour and liquid at the same time. I rubbed my new-ish pancake griddle with a bit of butter and began cooking.
It’s a good thing I didn’t have to throw away the first few because the half batch made just five thin pancakes.
Poor John spread his three with cream cheese and rolled them up like cigars. I used a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of sugar.
These pancakes turned out more like crepes. I was surprised by how thin and delicate they were, which meant I didn’t really think of them as pancakes. But they were very tasty.
In future, I’ll stick with my old standby pancake recipe, which produces a thicker result that just begs for some maple syrup. That or the fantastic lemon and ricotta pancake recipe I made from an earlier page 32. 🙂
Have a sweet tooth? We ate sugar bombs in India.