Pancake day (as it is known in the UK) which is also known as Shrove Tuesday is on Tuesday 24 February this year.
Pancake day is the last day before the Christian period of Lent and it is traditional to eat pancakes on this day. It is always 41 days before Easter Sunday. Shrove Tuesday is the last chance to indulge as Lent is a time of abstinence when foods like fat, butter and eggs cannot be eaten. Pancakes contain all of these.
The word Shrove is derived from a much older word ‘Shrive’ which meant to confess and during the Middle Ages people would confess their sins in order to be forgiven before Lent commenced.
Shrove Tuesday is known by many names in different countries. Even in Australia, Ireland and the UK it is known variously as Pancake Day, Pancake Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday.
In the United States within French-speaking and catholic regions it is known as Mardi Gras whilst in Sweden it is appropriately called ‘Fat Tuesday’ ( Fettisdagen ). Likewise in France it is also known as Mardi Gras, which means also means ‘Fat Tuesday’ or ‘grease’.
Again in Brazil ‘Fat Tuesday’ is the popular term translating as Terça-feira gorda whilst the in Iceland they have a similar term of ‘Bursting Day’ or ‘Sprengidagur’.
In sunny Greece they have an unusual term which is ‘From the Meat’ or Apocreas as they don’t eat meat at this time of year either.
The English tend to have a thinner pancake with sugar and lemon juice while their North American Cousins have a fuller pancake and they serve it with maple syrup and blueberries.
Here are two fun pancake recipes to try yourself.
For the pancake mixture:
2 large eggs
50g/2oz of butter
110g/4oz of sifted plain flour
A pinch of salt
200ml/7fl oz of milk with 75ml/3fl oz of water mixed in.
Caster sugar and/or lemon juice
1. First, sift the salt and flour into a mixing bowl. Next make a hole in the centre of the mixture and break both of the eggs into it and begin whisking the eggs. Once this is well mixed begin adding small quantities of the milk and water as you continually whisk.
2. Once the batter is smooth begin to melt the butter in a pan. Add two tablespoons of the melted butter into the batter and whisk it in and then pour the rest into a bowl. Each time you make a pancake make sure that the pan is lightly greased over the cooking surface with the melted butter.
3. Next heat the pan very hot and then turn the heat down to medium. You may need to experiment to get the correct amount of batter for each pancake but on average 2 tablespoons of batter is sufficient.
4. As soon as the batter hits the hot pan, slide it around to get the base evenly coated with batter. The pancake will cook quickly (half a minute roughly) and will have a golden brown mottle on the cooked side. Next flip the pancake over with a pan slice for only a few seconds to cook the other side and then slide it off the pan onto a plate and serve with lemon juice and caster sugar sprinkled on top.
For the pancake mixture:
2 tbsp of caster sugar
1 large lightly beaten egg
135g/4¾oz of sifted plain flour
1 tsp of baking powder
A pinch of salt
2 tbsp of melted butter and some extra for cooking
130ml/4½fl oz of milk
Maple syrup, blueberries and butter
1. First, sift the salt, baking powder, flour, and caster sugar into a large bowl. Then in a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and egg and afterwards the melted butter.
2. Add the milk, egg and butter mixture to the flour mixture and make a smooth batter by mixing vigorously with a fork. Leave the batter stand for a few minutes.
3. Next heat a frying pan over a medium heat and melt a knob of butter in it. Pour some batter into the frying pan to the required thickness of pancake. Turn the pancake over once the top begins to bubble and continue until both sides have a golden brown colour. The pancake should rise to about 1cm (½in) thick.
4. Pancakes are best served fresh with scoops of maple syrup blueberries and butter.