Tuesday 28th February 2017 – a day that has been marked in my diary since Tuesday 9th February 2016. A day when I can indulge in the naughty deliciousness of my favourite sweet or savoury fried foods. Yes, you guessed it, it’s Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day!
Happy Pancake Day! This is my day of acceptable pigging out on chocolate spread or maple syrup and bacon pancakes. Mmmm! But before this let’s look at the reason behind this pancake-gorging feast.
The History Bit
The practice of mixing flour, eggs, salt/spices and milk, and then frying the gloopy mixture in fat has a long history. Pancakes, as we know them, were cooked all the way back in Roman times! We don’t know if pancakes were made before the Romans in 1st Century AD, but it is possible.
In the 16th Century, Christians often cooked pancakes on Shrove Tuesday to use up luxury food items such as fats and dairy, before Ash Wednesday (the beginning of Lent). A half-day holiday was taken on Shrove Tuesday. It marked the beginning of a Christian reflective period leading up to Easter Sunday – when they believe Jesus was resurrected. During this time Christians are encouraged to confess their sins and give up favourite luxuries as a holy sacrifice. ‘Shrove’ comes from the term ‘to shrive’ which means to shake off sin, or repent. Shriving began at 11am when the church bells would sound, reminding the women to prepare the pancake mixture and calling people to the churches to confess their wrongdoings.
Why Does The Date Change?
Shrove Tuesday is what is known as a moveable feast, it is partly determined by our moon’s cycle. It will always be exactly 47 days before Easter Sunday. It will also permanently fall on any Tuesday, between February 3rd and March 9th. The date on which Pancake Day falls has been usefully itemised here. It takes us right up until 2100! I hope to still be eating pancakes when I’m…122 years old. Think positive!
Your Basic Pancake Recipe
Ingredients (makes 12 large)
- 100g plain flour
- 2 large eggs
- 300ml milk
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- A pinch of salt
- A large bowl
- A sieve
- Weighing scales
- A balloon whisk or electric hand mixer
- A frying pan
- A measuring jug
- An egg flipper or palette knife
- Sift the flour into a large bowl
- Add eggs, milk and salt
- Whisk until smooth (like single cream).
- Add melted butter and stir
- Chill for at least 30 minutes in the fridge. If you can’t wait, go ahead and start cooking. I totally understand that when you are this close to eating pancakes, it’s cruel to make you wait!
- Transfer the chilled batter into your measuring jug.
- Heat a small pat of butter in your frying pan over a medium heat until it bubbles. It needs to coat the bottom of the pan so the pancake doesn’t stick.
- Pour the batter into the bubbling pan and tilt the pan to coat it in batter evenly.
- After 30 seconds, use your flipper to turn over the edge of the pancake to see if it is golden.
- FANTASTIC FLIPPING FIESTA FUN TIME!!! (Loosen the edges first)
- Once you’ve scraped the pancake from the floor/ceiling/window/mother-in-law… or successfully turned the pancake over… cook for a further 30 seconds.
- Your first pancake is ready to fill and eat. Often the first pancake is a total disaster, so please don’t worry, you are in good company.
Sweet Filling Ideas
I know this is the part you have been dying to get your teeth into! It was the mention of chocolate spread earlier – am I right?
Here are some tried and tested sweet fillings, but there really is no right or wrong, so be creative and go wild!
- Banana & chocolate spread
- Raspberries and white chocolate drops (a crushed milkybar would be as good!)
- Peaches and Vanilla Ice-cream
- Lemon juice and sugar
- Jam and chopped nuts, dusted with icing sugar
- Blueberries and maple syrup
- Peanut butter, banana and strawberry jam (trust me- this is heavenly in a pancake, sandwich or on toast!)
- Apple sauce (warmed gently), sugar and a pinch of ground cinnamon
Savoury Filling Ideas
- Cheddar cheese and ham
- Chicken and sweetcorn in white sauce
- Garlic mushroom, rocket and parmesan
- Cheese, tomato and onion
- Chicken tikka
- 4 cheese – any combination (cheddar, mozzarella, cream cheese, blue cheese, parmesan, goat, smoked, flavoured…)
- Chicken and bacon
- Sausage and egg
- Greek salad – feta, red onion, cherry tomatoes, cucumber. Served with balsamic dressing, salt, pepper, a sprinkle of dried oregano or mint and a squeeze of lemon!
Alternative Pancake Recipes
Healthy Banana Pancakes
Trying to keep healthy? We have a two-ingredient alternative for those who prefer to keep on track and not have a cheat day on Pancake Day. These take 5 minutes to prepare and are great for breakfast or pudding. Cover them in yoghurt and fruit and children love them! Watch our video to find out how to make them.
Galettes (Savoury Brown Flour Pancakes)
This savoury pancake recipe originates in a fishing village in Brittany, France. The pancakes are known as galettes. I can’t get enough of them! The brown flour makes a savoury flavour suited to salty rather than sweet pancake fillings. Brown flour will make you feel fuller for longer, helping you avoid snacking if you are watching your weight. A healthier option if you like, and a delicious one at that!
- 100g buckwheat or other brown flour
- 2 large eggs
- 150ml water
- 150ml milk
- 50g melted butter
- A pinch of salt
- A pinch of black pepper
- Put the flour and salt/pepper in a bowl and add the eggs.
- Mix in the water and milk gradually.
- Add the melted butter and mix it in.
- Allow to rest for 30 minutes or more.
- Grease pan with butter or oil and set to medium/high
- Pour the batter into the bubbling pan and tilt the pan to coat it in batter evenly. These need longer than regular pancakes because of the brown flour. Cook for about 2 minutes each side.
- Have fun flipping. They aren’t as sticky as the sweet pancakes, so Grampy should be safe from splatters! Et voila!
More Delicious Pancake Ideas
- What do you know about traditional Welsh pancakes? Details about our very own Crempogau can be found on the VisitWales website
- BBC Food Professional Chef Pancake Recipes
- Why not try pancakes from another country? Buzzfeed details 24 recipes from our friends across the globe.
- BBC Good Food has a wonderful selection of pancake recipes!
- Metro present Vegan/Healthy pancake recipes
So go ahead and enjoy your pancakes. I’m going to enjoy mine now while thinking of devising new celebration days like Knickerbocker Glory Day on a sunny day in June and a BBQ Banquet Day to mark the end of summer on a crisp day in September!