Pendula, I was told as a child, means turn over. And the provenance of this recipe? My great grandmother Mary McPherson, a quite formidable lady and mother of 13 – of whom I have a photograph standing with my grandparents Frank and Trixie Bond on Muizenberg Beach, in Winter in a wind. For pendulas we used a girdle, a large round black disc with a handle over, which fitted onto the plate of the Aga stove. Madeleine and I still use it – works like a treat on a gas flame. Served warm and steaming, they were made for soaking up farm butter and honey that came from hives kept by a schoolteacher of mine under some flowering gums on the farm.
You’ll need : 125g plain flour, ½ tsp castor sugar, ½ tsp salt, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, ¾ tsp baking powder, 1 egg, 30g melted butter, 250ml buttermilk.
Method : Sift together twice the flour, castor sugar, salt, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Beat the egg well and add the buttermilk. Add the dry ingredients slowly beating well all the time. Stir in the melted butter and beat well. Allow to stand for thirty minutes, adding a bit more buttermilk if the batter is too thick. Drop in spoonfuls onto a hot lightly buttered greased girdle or non-stick pan and cook until bubbles form on the top and the mixture sets. Turn over and cook on the other side. Keep warm in a tea towel and serve with butter and honey or cinnamon sugar and lemon juice.
Caution : It takes a while for the temperature of the girdle to settle down. Start at a lower temperature rather than a higher one.
Makes about 12 pendulas