LEXINGTON — Bleary-eyed souls are making their way to the Battle Green. A shot rings out. The all-volunteer army is spurred into action. Ready, aim, flip!
Did you think only the British were coming? The other great Patriots Day tradition in this historic town is pancake breakfasts. Next Monday, hungry hordes who waited for hours to see the reenactment of the “shot heard ’round the world” can mount their assault upon local venues for breakfast.
With thousands of people milling around, there is plenty of business for civic organizations that have for decades used this cousin to the church supper as fund-raisers. Patriots Day pancake sales — the stack costs between $4.50 and $6 but don’t forget that includes the sausages, coffee, cocoa, and juice — help support a Boy Scout troop and fund social action projects for church and fraternal organizations.
The largest is held at St. Brigid’s Church. According to Scout Master Hank Manz, Troop 160 serves about 1,500 people around 4,000 pancakes, 3,000 sausages, and 15 gallons of syrup. The first volunteer Scouts and parents show up at 3:30 a.m. No pancakes are made in advance. With three 4-foot-square grills going simultaneously and several line-flippers, the hot pancakes make their way to the waiting crowd through the efforts of “pancake expediters.” Manz says they recruit “tall people with good balance for this job.” Fourteen-year-old Geoff Cooper, as senior patrol leader, is making his debut this year sharing responsibilities for the feeding of 1,500 diners. “Sometimes the line can be very long,” says Cooper.
At the First Baptist Church, says pancake organizer Dave Ehlke, “We make our pancakes from scratch with a recipe from our former pastor’s mother who is from Ireland.” On his shopping list are 100 pounds of flour, 20 pounds of sugar, 240 eggs, and 20 gallons of whole milk. “We get lots of reenactors who come in their costumes,” says Ehlke.
Just steps from the battle scene, Church of Our Redeemer parishioner Karen Shragle helps run their pancake breakfast along with two other co-chairs. “When the last shot is fired on the Green, you watch people running in several different directions,” says Schragle.
At the Masonic Hall, Marc Reyome presides over the action of the early birds who come before dawn for nourishment and a front row view of the battle between the Minutemen and the British. While their forefathers marched toward Concord and their next skirmish, modern day redcoats make a pit-stop for pancakes.
Pancake breakfasts in Lexington are held between 6 and 10 a.m. (some doors open at 5:30 a.m. if there’s a crowd) at St. Brigid’s, 2001 Massachusetts Ave.; Church of Our Redeemer, 6 Meriam St.; First Baptist Church, 1580 Massachusetts Ave.; Masonic Hall, 1 Harrington Road (corner of Bedford and Hancock streets).
Amy Dixon’s Irish pancakes 4/14/2004
If you don’t like the idea of sitting down to pancakes at dawn with several hundred people, make your own—or host a pancake party later in the morning. Keep the pancakes warm in 200-degree oven, covered with foil. This recipe comes from Brian Dixon, former pastor of the First Baptist Church in Lexington, who got it from his Irish mother. For really light pancakes, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to the batter, a hint some packaged mixes suggest. The dry ingredients make 5 cups. Here are instructions for using the dry ingredients in two proportions. Use 3 cups to make 23 pancakes, 2 cups to make 15 pancakes.
FOR THE DRY INGREDIENTS
3 3/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon salt
1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Blend well with a whisk.
2. Measure 2 cups or 3 cups and store leftover dry mixture in an airtight jar in the pantry.
WITH 3 CUPS OF DRY INGREDIENTS
3 cups dry ingredients
1 1/2 cups milk
Butter (for the griddle)
WITH 2 CUPS OF DRY INGREDIENTS
2 cups dry ingredients
1 cup milk
Butter (for the griddle)
1. In a large bowl, stir the dry ingredients with a whisk.
2. In another bowl, combine the eggs and milk and stir well. Add the egg mixture to the dry mixture, stirring until all liquid is incorporated. Bubbles will start to appear.
3. Let the mixture rest for about 30 minutes.
4. Heat a griddle or nonstick skillet. Add about 2 teaspoons of the butter. When it begins to foam, use a quarter-cup measure to add batter to the pan. Let the pancakes cook until the undersides are golden and small bubbles appear on the surface.
5. Turn to brown the other side. Serve with maple syrup or fresh fruit.