Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pancake Tuesday

Probably most of my British readers will relate to the tradition of Pankcake (Shrove) Tuesday.  Every year on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, you will find most households tossing up pancakes in the air, trying to make them land back in the frying pan, rather than on the floor or in their hair.

Its loads of fun and I didn't want to stop the tradition just because I wasn't living in the UK anymore. I especially love doing it with the kids.  The pancakes tend to be more like crepes, rather than the North American variety and are served with lemon and sugar (and sometimes golden syrup - yummy)

What is Shrove Tuesday?
Well the word ‘Shrove' comes from the old English word ‘shrive' which means to confess ones sins. The tradition of Shrove Tuesday began when Christians had to clear out their pantry before Ash Wednesday which marks the start of Lent. Today many people give up just one thing for Lent, however hundreds of years ago all meats, eggs, milk and other rich foods were given up for 40 days to remember when Jesus went into the desert and fasted  for 40 days and 40 nights. The idea was that instead of throwing out the fats and eggs; they should be used to make pancakes as a final feast before the fasting period began.

Each year I always give up something for Lent (its nearly always chocolate).  And I do this for 2 reasons;

  1. its a test of my will power and determination, 40 days seems like a long time.
  2. My Mam always buys me a chocolate Galaxy Ripple Easter Egg as a reward!! :)
This year I am giving up sweet stuff, and I have categorised this as, chocolate, biscuits (cookies) and cakes!! Wish me luck.  Are you giving up anything this year? Why not try, we can do the challenge together!!

What it means in modern times?
Most people I know, regardless or not of religion celebrate Pancake Tuesday.  It is really just another fun day that everybody seems to enjoy.  There are even pancake races!! Apparently this tradition is thought to have began in Olney, Buckinghamshire in 1445 when a woman was making pancakes and she forgot the time. Suddenly she heard the church bells ringing to signal the start of the service and in her haste she ran out of the house and to the church still holding the frying pan with the pancake inside.  Its really fun to see all the crazy stories of people running up and down their local villages with a frying pan, tossing pancakes like it is a very normal thing to do! 

If you want to try this tradition tonight, see recipe after the jump.

(image from www.tedbakerblog.com)

Traditional Lemon & Sugar Pancake Recipe 

Makes: 12-14 pancakes
Preparation time: 30 mins
For the pancake mixture:

110g/4oz plain flour, sifted
pinch of salt
2 eggs
200ml/7fl oz milk mixed with 75ml/3fl oz water
50g/2oz butter
To serve:

caster sugar
lemon juice 
lemon wedges
Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl with a sieve held high above the bowl so the flour gets a airing. Now make a well in the centre of the flour and break the eggs into it. Then begin whisking the eggs - any sort of whisk or even a fork will do - incorporating any bits of flour from around the edge of the bowl as you do so.

Next gradually add small quantities of the milk and water mixture, still whisking (don't worry about any lumps as they will eventually disappear as you whisk). When all the liquid has been added, use a rubber spatula to scrape any elusive bits of flour from around the edge into the centre, then whisk once more until the batter is smooth, with the consistency of thin cream. Now melt the 50g/2oz of butter in a pan. Spoon 2 tbsp of it into the batter and whisk it in, then pour the rest into a bowl and use it to lubricate the pan, using a wodge of kitchen paper to smear it round before you make each pancake.

Now get the pan really hot, then turn the heat down to medium and, to start with, do a test pancake to see if you're using the correct amount of batter. I find 2 tbsp is about right for an 18cm/7in pan. It's also helpful if you spoon the batter into a ladle so it can be poured into the hot pan in one go. As soon as the batter hits the hot pan, tip it around from side to side to get the base evenly coated with batter. It should take only half a minute or so to cook; you can lift the edge with a palette knife to see if it's tinged gold as it should be. Flip the pancake over with a pan slice or palette knife - the other side will need a few seconds only - then simply slide it out of the pan onto a plate.
Stack the pancakes as you make them between sheets of greaseproof paper on a plate fitted over simmering water, to keep them warm while you make the rest.

To serve, sprinkle each pancake with freshly squeezed lemon juice and caster sugar, fold in half, then in half again to form triangles, or else simply roll them up. Serve sprinkled with a little more sugar and lemon juice and extra sections of lemon.
Source: Delia Smith


  1. I don't think I can give up all sweet stuff, but how about chocolate? And maybe I'll also give up eating bread for breakfast (but not pancakes on the weekends). Haven't observed lent in so long...this might be tough! xo and thanks for the challenge!

  2. I normally just give up chocolate, but don't really eat enough of it to be a true challenge. OK lets check in with each other on our progress! I will bring you a chocolate egg back from the UK if you do well.

  3. Those pancakes sound divine! I'm not giving up anything for Lent, although I probably should. Good luck!

  4. I've never heard of this before, but it sounds like a great ritual...especially if it led to these pancakes :)


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