This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
"This reminds one that last year pancake parties were all the go at the fashionable seaside places in France. At Etrctat especially it became quite a mania. The pancake batter was brought on the beach ready mixed in a jar, and a small portable charcoal stove was erected in a sheltered corner against the rocky shore. The other indispensable components of the pancake, such as sugar, lemon, and butter, were also brought in a hand-basket, as well as bottles of cider, the only beverage allowed. It was rather an amusing sight to watch a group of elegantly dressed people sitting on the beach around a gentleman in shirt sleeves with a white apron before him, handling the fry ing-pan amidst the jokes and chaffing of the audience; and bets were often made as to the tossing abilities of the amateur cuisiiiier. It often happened that when the pan was handled by an inexperienced or nervous person, the unfortunate pancake was tossed up so awkwardly that it dropped half cooked into the cinders, to the merriment of all present. It is not everyone who knows how to toss a pancake-properly. The process looks simple enough, but it is by no means so easy as it appears.
In fact, it requires much skill and practice to perform the feat with success".
The pancake has become thoroughly domesticated in America in the form of batter-cakes, which many people eat twice a day the year round, a habit which seems to be peculiarly American and not indulged in anywhere else in the world. It follows that we have several varieties of pancakes and an easier and more Tapid way of cooking them than in a frying pan one at a time, for we have a griddle which will bake a dozen or two at once or fry them in grease as well as a small frying pan. The chief difference between the American wheat flour batter cake and the French pancake is, that the former is (generally) made light with some raising material, the French cake is but plain batter which would be tough if the cakes were not so very thin.
The English mix their pancakes with ale and give them time to rise, for ale acts the same as yeast and their pancakes are light in consequence. Hence the difference in form. The English pancake is not rolled up, being through its light texture somewhat too thick to roll well, but is sent in hot from the pan, dredged with fine sugar and sprinkled with lemon juice.
The French pancake is baked thin as paper; is spread with some sweet preparation, rolled up like an omelet, the ends cut off; a number are baked in advance, placed on a dish, sugared over and the top glazed by melting the sugar in the top of a hot oven or by holding a red hot iron close to it. This is the French pancake which becomes familiar to hotel guests as the sweet entremet " French pancakes with jelly." Pancake Batter, American - 8 oz. flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 cups milk or cream, 1 tablespoon melted butter or hard beaten in.
A regular article of sale at the restaurants by this name is a pancake 1/2 inch thick, baked as usual in a frying pan but requiring considerable time. The batter is made as for light American pancakes. Eaten with butter and sugar or syrup. Pancake Batter, English - 1/2 pt ale, 1/2 pt water, 6 yolks, little salt, about 1 pt flour, 1 glass brandy. Pancake Batter, French - 4 oz. flour, 4 eggs, little grated lemon peel, salt, 1/2 pt cream, 1/2 pt milk. To be baked very thin in the pan, turned over, spread with jelly or marmalade, sugar on top. Swiss Pancakes - 6 eggs, 6 oz. flour, 1 qt milk, salt. Eggs to be whipped light, all made into smooth batter like thick cream. When in the pan some currants shaken in, not rolled but served with sugar dredged over.
An excellent supper-dish. Grate a dozen medium-sized peeled potatoes. Add the yolks of three eggs, a heaping tablespoonful of flour, with a large teaspoonful of salt, and lastly the whites of the three eggs beaten stiff, and thoroughly incorporated with the potatoes. Fry the cakes in butter and lard (equal parts) until they are brown.
Rolled up with peach preserves or fresh stewed peaches.
Spread with puree of chestnuts flavored with maraschino.
Pancakes spread with jelly or preserve and rolled.