Ornamental Separator

Pink Colored Pancakes

Watch our historic foodways staff cook this recipe, then try it at home

Why settle for boring old tan pancakes when you can have pink ones? The colonial cook did not yet use baking powder or sodas, so these pancakes are thinner than modern ones. They would have been eaten by hand, rolled up with a little powdered sugar.

18th Century

Boil a large beet-root tender, and beat it fine in a marble mortar, then add the yolks of four eggs, two spoonfuls of flour, and three spoonfuls of good cream, sweeten to your taste, and grate in half a nutmeg, and put in half a glass of brandy; beat them all together half an hour, fry them in butter, and garnish them with green sweet-meats, preserved apricots, or green springs of myrtle. It is a pretty corner dish for either dinner or supper.

— Glasse, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, p. 220.

21st Century


  • 1 large red beet
  • 4 egg yolks (or equivalent amount of egg substitute)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (or you may use skim milk or low fat cream)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 oz. brandy
  • 1/2 freshly grated nutmeg
  • Butter for frying (may substitute margarine or oil)
  • Preserved apricots, bay leaves, or pistachios, for garnish


  1. Boil the beet with the skin on until tender. Let cool, then remove the skin with a dry towel. Roughly chop the beet and then puree it in a food processor. While the processor is running, add the sugar, egg yolks, cream, brandy, and nutmeg. Stop the processor from time to time to scrape down the sides. When everything is well pureed, add the flour to combine to a smooth batter.
  2. Heat a non-stick frying pan to medium heat and melt a small amount of butter in the pan. Spoon ¼ cup of the mixture for each pancake into the pan and fry on both sides until done. Repeat until all the batter is used up.
  3. Garnish with pistachios, bay leaves, or preserved apricots.

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