Jenny's First Flapjacks Pancakes from Echo in the Bone an Outlander novel

Jenny's First Flapjacks from MOBY

Jenny had had a bite with Marsali and the children but declared herself equal to dealing with an egg, if there might be one, so I sent Mrs. Figg to see whether there might, and within twenty minutes we were wallowing -- in a genteel fashion -- in soft-boiled eggs, fried sardines, and -- for lack of cake -- flapjacks with butter and honey, which Jenny had never seen before but took to with the greatest alacrity.

"Look how it soaks up the sweetness!" she exclaimed, pressing the spongy little cake with a fork, then releasing it. "Nay like a bannock at all!" She glanced over her shoulder, then leaned toward me, lowering her voice. "D'ye think her in the kitchen might show me the way of it, if I asked?"

Written in My Own Heart's Blood (Chapter 6 - Under My Protection)

Jenny's reaction is a lot like mine when I find a new dish I like.  I tend to fall in love at first bite, then immediately start asking the cook, or the Google, everything I can about this marvelous new food.

Pancakes are one of humankind's oldest breads, and have been around since at least the 14th C. Variations on the name and recipe are many, including flapjacks, griddle/girdle cakes, Scotch pancakes, etc.

The term Flapjack dates back to early 17th C Britain. The word flap meant a sharp movement, jerk or flip. Jack was the informal form of the name John, and identified a male commoner, much as we would use "Average Joe" today. Typically, Jacks were employed as labourers, or as kitchen assistants.

I can hear the Cook shouting orders now:

"Flap that cake before it burns, Jack!"

flapjack-bubbles copy

Although the term originated in Britain, a flapjack has come to mean something quite different there in modern times.  If you're reading this over on the other side of the pond, you may be confused by these pictures of what you would call Scotch Pancakes.

Such is the evolution of the English language and food. When speaking of flapjacks, most Brits today would automatically think of the baked sweet oat squares (think of them as delicious, but very unhealthy, granola bars).

modern-flapjacks copy

Jenny's first flapjacks were probably a little flatter and denser than those made with this recipe, due to the absence of chemical leaveners (baking powder/soda) in 18th C pantries. You're welcome to try the recipe without this modern addition -- if you do, beat the eggs well before adding them to the milk and butter. That will give you an extra bit of lift in the batter.

You can serve them beside fried sardines if you like, but that's a little beyond me.  Bacon is my salty sidebar of choice for breakfast.

Show/Hide Comments


23 Jun 2014 - 2:20pm


I am wondering if Mrs. Figg and other cooks of the time didn't keep a sourdough starter to leaven things like pancakes, biscuits, etc.


Possibly, Betzcee! Or maybe even a little yeast, but both of those take time to create a rise, and these flapjacks were on the table in 20 minutes. Sounds like a good kitchen experiment to me...

23 Jun 2014 - 8:26pm


Most common name for Pancakes here are Drop scones, on our Southern neighbours would call them Scotch Pancakes.

23 Jun 2014 - 8:57pm


Wonderful story, Carol!

14 Aug 2014 - 9:19pm

Ann Lynn Keplar

Theresa you just made me hungry for pancakes. Only I want my grandmother's hot brown sugar syrup on them. Talk about soaking up syrup. I have never seen any other syrup be soaked up faster.

23 Jun 2014 - 12:09pm


Yummy! For sure this is what we will be have on Sunday morning!

23 Jun 2014 - 12:32pm

Mary Lou

I often wondered about what the origins were of the normally breakfast food we call "Pancakes" which we also call "Flap Jacks" too. I am not aware if there is a difference in the two. Many years ago when I was a young girl a family friend used to send us a gallon can of "Apple Maple Syrup". Silly me never appreciated it when I was young, mostly because it seemed we had it forever and there was no change. Now I think back on it if I could find it I would probably really like it, but then I would probably eat many more Pan-cakes/flap-jacks. Oh the dilemma.

23 Jun 2014 - 12:35pm


Oh awesome! I haven't had pancakes in a very long time and yet I have all this great Canadian maple syrup that is just dying to be poured over some. :)

23 Jun 2014 - 12:48pm

Dawn C.

Thanks, Theresa! I am loving this book, and I'm glad to see something from it. BTW, love the new 'do!

23 Jun 2014 - 3:07pm


I loved Jenny's reaction to Flapjacks in the book! It is only fitting that this be the first MOBY recipe. Since my husband has just left for work, I have decided that we will have breakfast for dinner tonight! I have all the ingredients crying out to be used. I love this site! I have made many of your recipes. Somehow the Mommacita's Sangria keeps resurfacing! Went to a neighbors to watch USA soccer team play and brought a picture of Bloody Maria's and when my neighbor realized it wasn't my famous, or should I say, infamous Sangria, I heard a very noticeable *sigh*!

23 Jun 2014 - 3:22pm


These are so like the ones I make for hubby and I a couple nights a month. (from scratch of course) Soooo good with real maple syrup. Thank you so much for this. LOVE the new picture. Helen in Ark


I think I want to come to your place when you make breakfast for dinner, Helen!

23 Jun 2014 - 5:57pm

Carol Mackey

There is a recipe card in my box, written in my oldest son's ~ 11 year old hand (he is now 54) and very spotty with grease and batter, for "Gramma G's Pancakes". She cooked them on a candy stove fueled by pine knots, in the biggest cast-iron skillet I've ever seen, for a crowd of anywhere from eight to twenty, in deer camp (called "Up-A-North" by her many grandchildren). The bluberries had been gathered from the land surrounding this Northern Michigan paradise; the maple syrup, although real, from a store in town. But "these are the best pancakes I've ever eaten" was a phrase uttered enthusiastically--and often! In the decades since, my niece and her family, who also live in Northern Michigan (where Sugar Maples grow in abundance), have been putting out buckets and boiling down sap for a few years and very generously share the resulting golden elixer. I am blessed (sigh)! :-)

18 Nov 2014 - 6:24pm

Birgit Hartoft

Love your website and the recipes, though I prefer those which also have metric measures, since I don't have an oven that uses Fahrenheit or scales that works in ounces :-) For this recipe - if you want to leave out the baking powder: Part the eggs into yolks and whites, whisk the whites stiff and fold them into the batter last. If you do that you can do without the baking powder and still get a light pancake.

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