It is 6:30 in the morning on Thanksgiving Sunday. The house and even the neighbourhood is quiet so I am going to make Bread Pan Cakes before heading to an extended family event. This recipe was contributed to the 1906 Berlin Cook Book by Mrs. James. Wesley.
I measured the bread crumbs and milk. I heated the milk in a saucepan on the stove before adding it to the crumbs. I needed melted the butter too so I set a small amount nearby. While the bread soaked I beat two eggs in a cup and then added them to the bread mixture. I mixed in the flour, baking powder and melted butter. A few shakes of the salt shaker and the bread pan cakes mixture was ready. I don’t have a griddle iron so I heated my trusty frying pan with butter and shortening and started cooking the bread pan cakes. This is a very thick batter — more like a dough. I took spoonfuls and placed them on the frying pan. I tried flattening them down with the back of the spoon. I fried them on one side and then flipped them over. When the first four were ready it was time to eat breakfast!
Mrs. James Wesley or perhaps it is Mrs. James of Wesley is going to remain a mystery for now. There appears to be a comma between James and Wesley but I’m not sure. I’d hoped that a search of the Waterloo Region Generations website would solve my dilemma. There are lots of men with the surname James in the area and there is a family called Wesley but no James Wesley. The 1911 census has a James Wesley in Brantford.
These are better than I expected based on the recipe and on the look of the dough. I used brown bread crumbs which might have provided more flavour or made them heavier than using white crumbs. The result is more like bannock or a griddle scone than like a traditional pan cake. Maple syrup would be great with this style of pan cake.
I’m assuming a recipe like this was created to use up bread crumbs. Bread, even bakers bread, in 1906 would go stale more quickly than the commercial bread of 2012. My store-bought brand name bread grows mold before it ever goes stale. To get bread crumbs for these recipes I either buy a bakery loaf and save the leftover for crumbs or buy prepared crumbs. In 1906 most households would have stale bread and bread crumbs on a regular basis unless they were carefully calculating the amount of bread needed for their family. A frugal homemaker used the stale bread and cake in other ways like these Bread Pan Cakes. So should you make them? Well, they are perfectly fine and a good way to use up your stale bread crumbs if you have any left from making stuffing this weekend.
BREAD PAN CAKES
1 1/2 cupsful of fine stale bread crumbs, mixed with 1 1/2 cupsful of hot milk, until bread is soft add 2 well beaten eggs and 1/2 cup flour, 1 1/2 teaspoonsful baking powder, 2 tablespoonsful of melted butter, salt to taste, bake on hot griddle iron.