Flannel cakes – Historical Context
Flannel cakes are very similar to pancakes, and is actually an Appalachian term for pancake. They are also known as flannen cakes due to a Scots influence, as the Scottish have flannen biscuits and flannen banococks. They could be described as a “coarse oat cake,” a fluffy wheat pancake, or thick flapjacks, fat hotcakes, griddlecakes, etc. The specific term, “flannel cake” probably derived from Pennsylvania, and was carried by the “Scotch-Irish down the Shenandoah Valley.” The main difference between flannel cakes and what we know as pancakes are how thick and fat flannel cakes are compared to regular pancakes.
A blog on the origin of pancakes explains the older origin of the term, Flannel, as it is “maybe from French flanelle, maybe Welsh gwlanen in origin, maybe Anglo-Norman diminutive from Old French flaine, which would make it ‘little blanket’.” (https://homewords99.wordpress.com/tag/flannel-cakes/)
A book from 1946 described flannel cakes as, “an old Pennsylvania term. It is in regular use from the Susquehanna to the Alleghenies and in the adjoining part of Maryland, including Baltimore. It has been carried southward into the Blue Ridge and along Chesapeake Bay, and westward to the upper Ohio River. In the Pennsylvania German area and the vicinity of Philadelphia flannel cake still has some currency but has been yielding ground to hot-cake and pancake.” (http://dare.wisc.edu/?q=node/83)
This recipe was from the cookbook, previously untitled, but after this class’s research has been found to probably come from Mary B Mason of Baltimore, MD. It makes sense that this cookbook was from Baltimore, MD, and the term and recipe for flannel cakes originated from the north east, specifically Pennsylvania and Maryland.