Shrove Tuesday is the last day before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. In years gone by, the consumption of sugar, fat and eggs was traditionally restricted during Lent and making pancakes for Shrove Tuesday was a way of using up these staple ingredients before the fast.
Many Christians still give up something (meat, sugar, chocolate, alcohol etc) during Lent in order to mark Jesus forty days in the wilderness before he was crucified and to prepare for the celebration of His resurrection on Easter Sunday. Shrove Tuesday has become secularised in many ways and is often referred to as Pancake Day, but its always Shrove Tuesday to me.
Shrove Tuesday Traditions
I have fond memories of this special day. When I was little, my Mom would take me to the Pancake Supper at the local church. I dont remember my Dad coming; I think it was kind of a girls night out for me and my Mom. I remember the pancakes suppers as incredibly busy and celebratory, all of us in the basement of the church. There was an endless parade of aproned ladies bringing out what seemed like hundreds of fluffy pancakes from the kitchen. Big hunks of butter and bottomless jars of maple syrup sat on the long trestle tables. It was pancake heaven, especially for kids.
Shrove Tuesday (or Pancake Day) in England
When I first came to England, I was surprised to find that the pancakes served on Shrove Tuesday were thin crpes topped with lemon and sugar. The pancakes I remembered were called American pancakes and didnt seem to figure very highly in the occasion. I couldnt see the difference between American pancakes and Canadian pancakes and the whole thing made me feel very homesick. In an attempt to focus on the positive, I began inviting friends to enjoy my homemade Canadian pancakes in our home.
Real Maple Syrup Makes A Difference to My No Fail Pancake Recipe
Some of our guests were a bit wary of the maple syrup, indeed one lady did surprise me when she insisted I didnt have real maple syrup on the table. I couldnt understand what she meant because I had managed to procure Canadian maple syrup made from sap taken from maple trees at great trouble and expense. (These days its much easier to find in the UK, although it is still quite expensive.)
I wondered aloud if perhaps she preferred maple syrup from Vermont? No, she asserted, Ive lived in America andreal maple syrup says Aunt Jemima on the label. Of course, Aunt Jemima is not real maple syrup at all, its table syrup made from high fructose corn syrup and caramel. I only just managed not to laugh out loud. Real maple syrup tastes best on my no fail pancake recipe, that is for sure!
Pancakes in the UK
As the years have gone by, American pancakes are more in favour here in England, although pancakes forShrove Tuesday are still often crpe-like and lend themselves more towards dessert than breakfast. To each their own. For memaking pancakes for Shrove Tuesday will always be about the fluffy, thick pancakes like the ones I used to have in Canada, served with lashings of butter and maple syrup. Although I will confess to a weakness for Crpes Suzette
This is my all time favourite no fail pancake recipe, the one I use to make pancakes for Shrove Tuesday nearly every year, and nearly every other time I make pancakes as well. It comes via my wonderful cousin Esther, one of the best cooks I know.
My Favourite No Fail Pancake Recipe Printable Version
- 1 cups all purpose (plain) flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- generous pinch of salt
- cup sour cream, crme frache (low fat versions work too), or plain full fat yogurt
- 1 cup milk
- 2 eggs, beaten
- cup melted butter, cooled a bit
- Heat a griddle or frying pan over medium heat.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In another bowl, combine the sour cream or crme frache, milk, beaten eggs and melted butter.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients all at once, stirring just until combined.
- Lightly grease the griddle or frying pan.
- Place dollops of batter (a scant quarter cup of batter makes a good size pancake) on a hot, lightly greased griddle or frying pan.
- Cook on one side until bubbles form and break on the surface.
- Turn the pancakes over with a spatula or egg flipper.
- Cook for another minute or so until done.
- Serve immediately.
Is making pancakes on Shrove Tuesday a tradition in your home? Whats your favourite pancake recipe?