Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday is the day before Lent starts. Lent is the time of fasting in the Christian faith lasting approximately 5 weeks before the major festival of Easter. In the UK, and some other countries, Shrove Tuesday is celebrated by cooking pancakes. Shrove Tuesday is celebrated in other parts of the world such as Brazil, the US with the Mardi Gras and famously the Carnival in Venice, Italy.
So why do we eat Pancakes on Shrove Tuesday? And what does Shrove mean?
Let’s start with Shrove. This is a corruption of the old English word shriven. To be shriven meant a person had gone to church to confess what they’d done wrong and received a pardon from the priest. This always had to happen before Lent started.
Pancakes were made because Lent was a time of fasting, so people had to use up all the fattening ingredients in the house such as eggs and milk. By adding flour to use up eggs and milk you create a batter and can make pancakes. There are pancake races in towns across the UK, the most famous being in Olney in Buckinghamshire where the High Street is closed to allow the runners to race along the street flipping pancakes!
Of course pancakes can be eaten at any time! They are delicious as a dessert with all sorts of toppings from lemon and sugar, to Nutella, to golden syrup. Crepes Suzette are a show off dish in a restaurant, where the pancake is served with orange and sugar, and flambéed (set alight) in Grand Marnier at the side of your table!
They can also be used for a savoury dish with fillings such as chicken and mushroom, spinach and ricotta. Pancakes can also be made in advance, and once cool, frozen with a piece of greaseproof paper between each one. They can then be reheated quickly for either a sweet or savoury dish.
Breakfast pancakes are made slightly thicker as are Scotch pancakes which are delicious as an afternoon tea snack.
For the basic pancake recipe click here