Traditional Scotch pancakes (drop scones) are so easy to make and taste delicious anytime from breakfast through lunch and on to supper. They are as good with jam as they are with bacon, cheese, smoked salmon or just about anything you fancy.
Traditional Scotch pancakes/drop scones
I’m Scottish and I do love my pancakes. They take me right back to my childhood. My Grannie taught me how to make Scotch pancakes and they were my very first adventure in baking.
My Mum made drop scones regularly and they were a standard treat when we got home from school.
No tea time spread in Scotland is complete without some Scotch pancakes/drop scones gracing the plates.
The Queen’s Drop Scones
In my book Simply Scottish Cakes & Bakes I used the old traditional recipe for drop scones using plain flour, baking powder, cream of tartar etc.
This is the same one Queen Elizabeth wrote down for President Eisenhower after his visit to Balmoral in 1959.
Ingredients for Scotch pancakes
- Butter (melted)
What flour to use in drop scones?
For ease and speed in the kitchen for breakfast I use this recipe for my drop scones using self raising flour.
In my book Simply Scottish Cakes & Bakes I used plain flour and added bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar. This was how my Granny and my Mum used to make their Scotch pancakes.
This recipe using plain (all purpose flour)
Simply use the same amount of all purpose/plain flour plus 1 tsp cream of tartar and 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda. Keep the rest of the recipe the same.
How to make Scotch pancakes
Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a bowl. I always like to sift dry ingredients together as that way you ensure that they are all well mixed.
Whisk the egg and milk together and add that all important spoonful of melted butter.
Simply pour this liquid into your dry ingredients and stir everything together.
You want to have a lovely smooth batter with no lumps and bumps in it.
I grease my pan simply by wiping over it with a little butter on a paper towel. Heat the pan then wipe off most of the butter. You merely want to moisten the pan with the fat.
Heat the heavy based frying pan (girdle/griddle) on your stove and drop spoonfuls of the pancake batter on to the pan.
How do you know when Scotch pancakes are ready to turn?
Oh I love this bit. As the drop scones brown underneith the tops will start to pop with tiny bubbles. They look like mini volcanic eruptions.
When you see this happening gently lift up the edge of one of your drop scones and you’ll see that it is getting nicely golden on the underside.
Now flip those pancakes over and let the other side cook. This will take even less time than the first side.
How thick should the batter be?
You want your batter to be quite thick. Rather like double cream, heavy cream as you’d say in America. This is a thicker batter than you’d use for thin crepe style pancakes.
How long does it take to cook Scotch pancakes?
About 5 minutes start to finish. This is real fast food. Perfect for breakfast for all the family. Even on a weekday.
How to cook Scotch pancakes the traditional way
For this you need a girdle (no, not the sort you stuff your curves into to get into that party dress). A girdle is a traditional Scottish flat iron cooking pan with no sides.
It is seriously heavy and has an arched handle. You would put it over the fire to heat up then drop your pancake batter on to the hot girdle to cook them.
Another word for a girdle is a griddle pan.
How to cook drop scones on an Aga
Use bake o’glide on the simmering plate and simply drop your pancake batter straight on to that and it saves on washing up.
Can you prepare the pancake batter beforehand?
Yes, simply make up your pancake batter before going to bed and leave it in the fridge overnight. Give it a quick stir in the morning and you’re ready to whip up a batch of Scotch pancakes for breakfast that’ll make the whole family smile.
Can you freeze Scotch pancakes?
Yes, simply wrap the drop scones in cling film and pop them into a freezer bag and label clearly. They will freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost and warm them in the oven or with a quick zap in the microwave.
What to serve with Scotch pancakes
Traditionally Scotch pancakes are served warm with butter and jam.
But that doesn’t mean to say you can’t serve them stacked American style with maple syrup dripping down the sides.
Serve these Scotch pancakes with berries or sliced banana. Or any fresh fruit and a good dollop of Greek yogurt for a hearty yet light breakfast/brunch.
Or serve a couple of drop scones with a rasher of bacon for a heavenly and filling breakfast or brunch.
Make them tiny (use a teaspoon to measure out the batter) and serve them as party nibbles with cream and jam.
Omit the sugar in this drop scone recipe and you will have the perfect blini type pancake to serve with your very best smoked salmon and cream cheese.
These are also amazingly good alongside a hearty bowl of soup. Don’t forget to add some butter and serve them warm.
A world of pancakes
Everyone loves pancakes the world over. From the classic French crepes (and chickpea flour soca in Provence) to Japanese okonomiyaki. The great American pancake stack to Chinese pancakes for crispy duck.
Russian blinis (yum think smoked salmon) to Swedish raggmunk. Dutch babies to Italian crespelli.
Indian dosa to Mexican quesadilla. In Malaysia they have roti jala and in Korea their are jeon pancakes.
So you see pancakes are a world-wide obsession. Now back to these all-important Scotch pancakes……
What’s the difference between Drop scones and pikelets
Well it’s not just a difference in locations, pikelets hailing from Australia and New Zealand. No, pikelets traditionally contain buttermilk while our Scotch pancakes just have plain milk in them.
Where does the term pancake come from?
The word pancake comes from the fact that these are cakes cooked in a pan. Like oatcakes, soda bread and bannocks were all traditionally cooked on a girdle (flat no sided pan) because back in history only posh folks had ovens. Also armies on the march could easily feed themselves by ‘baking’ their breads etc over the fire.
Why are they called drop scones
That’s an easy one. They get this name because you make the batter liquid enough to drop off the spoon and on to the girdle/griddle or frying pan.
Looking for more pancake recipes to try? Then check these out before you go;
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Traditional Scotch pancakes a.k.a. drop scones
- 120 g self raising flour
- 1 heaped tbsp caster sugar
- pinch of salt
- 125 ml milk
- 1 large freerange egg
- 1 tsp melted butter
- Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a bowl and make a dip in the centre
- whisk the egg with the milk and melted butter and pour into the dry mixture and whisk till you get a smooth batter like double (thick) cream
- heat a heavy based frying pan and lightly grease then remove with kitchen paper so pan is barely greased
- drop large spoonfulls of batter on to the pan and cook till they bubble on top and base is golden (about 2-3 minutes) then flip over and cook on other side
- Remove from pan and keep warm as you cook the rest of the pancakes