Today is Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (more about that tomorrow). Lent is a penitential season – Shrove comes from the word shrive, meaning ‘confess’. So Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the custom for Christians to be ‘shriven’ before the start of Lent.
Pancakes became the traditional food of choice so that rich ingredients such as eggs, milk, and sugar could be used up before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. The spiritual discipline of fasting emphasizes eating plainer food and refraining from food that would give pleasure: in many cultures across the world, this means eating no meat, dairy, or eggs.
Other cultures celebrate the day with a carnival – known as Mardi Gras.
Pancakes are simple to make, but can be used in many different ways, though they are traditionally served simply with lemon juice and sugar. You can eat pancakes all year round … why not try some of the ideas below?
any multiple of …
2oz plain flour
1/4 pint milk
beaten together. If you have an excess of eggs, you can make a richer batter by using 2 eggs and only 1 oz flour.
Oil and heat a non-stick frying pan to a moderate heat, and pour a little batter in the pan. Tip the pan to spread it around and leave on the heat until the edges begin to lift and turn golden brown. Flip the pancake (or toss it, if you’re brave!) and cook for a further 30 seconds or so. The first pancake is nearly always a disaster so don’t be afraid to toss it in the bin and start again!
You can make a stack of pancakes and keep them warm in a low oven. Or you can make them well in advance and freeze them (layered with greaseproof paper).
- Serve with lemon and sugar
- or fill with mince,
- or with chicken in white sauce,
- or with mushrooms in garlic,
- or with ratatouille,
- or serve with crispy bacon and maple syrup.
- Use them like cannelloni, filled and covered with a cheese sauce before being baked.
- For dessert, roll and fill them with apple/spices/sultanas,
- or make an orange sauce, fold the pancakes and warm them through in the sauce.
Simply use your imagination!
So, how do you eat yours? And how many can you eat?!