Pancakes to celebrate and comfort

Pancakes are still one of the favourite traditional desserts. At school fêtes, street markets, public gatherings and sport events, the familiar sweet cinnamon smell of freshly cooked pancakes will lure you to the pancake stall, and many people take out the pancake pan at the first sign of the winter chills and rainy weather.

During Jan van Riebeeck’s time, sweet and savoury pancakes were popular dishes in the Netherlands. The old recipes instructed that spices such as cloves, nutmeg and mace be included in the dough and only sugar be sprinkled over the baked pancakes. By the twentieth century, the only flavouring used was cinnamon sugar, sprinkled before serving.

Small, paper-thin pancakes were also prepared at the Cape, as in France, but where the French used only a little sauce over their pancakes, at the Cape they were served drenched in sauce. The sauce for the pancakes usually contained sugar, wine, cream and spices, but Van der Hum Liqueur, made from brandy, was a favoured ingredient.


Serves: 4 (8 small pancakes)


1 cup (250 ml) cake flour

Pinch of salt

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups (500 ml) water or milk

2 Tbsp (30 ml) cooking oil or melted butter


Sift the flour and salt in a mixing bowl.

Mix into a soft dough with the beaten eggs and small amounts of water or milk at a time. Add the rest of the water and beat briskly.

Add the oil or melted butter and allow to stand for 1 hour.

When ready to cook, drop spoonfuls of batter into a hot greased pan. Cook until bubbles form the surface, then turn and cook the other side.

Roll up or fold into triangles and serve with slices of lemon and cinnamon sugar, or with Van der Hum Sauce and chocolate curls.



1 cup (250 ml) water

1 cup (250 ml) sugar

Zest of 1 naartjie or orange

2 whole cloves

2 Tbps (30 ml) butter

½ cup (125 ml) Van der Hum liqueur

1 tsp (5 ml) sherry

2 tsp (10 ml) cream


Pour the water into a saucepan over high heat. Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Add the zest and cloves and reduce to two-thirds.

Beat in the butter.

Add the Van der Hum liqueur, sherry and cream and pour the hot sauce over the pancakes just before serving.