Everyone has heard of Mardi Gras — Fat Tuesday — but not everyone will have heard of Shrove Tuesday. From the word shrive meaning to confess, it’s the day before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. In Ireland it’s known as Pancake Tuesday. Its origins spring from the traditon of using up eggs, which were commonly not eaten during the Lenten season. The eggs that were laid during Lent were saved and a feast of eggs was a common breakfast on Easter Sunday.
When I lived in England I was about twelve miles from the town of Olney, which has an annual Pancake Day race that dates back to 1445. The race is only open to the women of the town, who race with their pan a short distance from a local pub to the church and who must flip the pancake at least twice during the race.
My mother made pancakes every year and Pancake Tuesday was the only time I ever remember eating them. They’re quite different from the pancakes found on breakfast menus all over the US — much thinner and, as you might expect, richer in eggs. They’re usually eaten with a squeeze of lemon juice, a pat of butter and some fine sugar sprinkled on.
I looked around for a good recipe and found one on the Guardian website, along with a video that was helpful. Here’s the list of ingredients with American equivalents and a summary of the directions:
125 grams all purpose flour — that’s about 4½ oz
225 ml whole or reduced fat milk — about 7½ fluid oz
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
pinch of salt
small knob of butter
Beat the milk and the eggs together.
Add the flour and salt and mix in slowly
Leave to sit about ½ and hour
Heat the pan and put in the knob of butter and spread it out until it covers the bottom of the pan thinly and evenly.
Pour enough batter to make a thin coating and cook about ½ a minute
Then flip the pancake — or, as in my case, try to flip the pancake. You can also turn it over with a spatula …
Cook about another ½ minute.
Remove to a warm plate.
The Guardian recipe is a bit more detailed and the video is helpful. You can see both here.