Saturday, 13 February 2010

Pancake Day

This coming Tuesday, the 16th February, is Pancake Day here in the UK.
Officially this day is Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday which is the first day of the season of Lent. The word shrove comes from the old English word shrive, which means to obtain forgiveness of sins by confession and penance. On a lighter note, Shrove Tuesday was also the last opportunity for a feast involving things like sugar, flour and eggs which were often given up for lent and therefore needed using up. If you put those ingredients together and add a bit of righteous haste, you get pancakes!
We celebrate this edible family tradition every year without fail, and if you'd like to partake too but are 'culinarily challenged', here's all you need:
  • 100g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 300ml milk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or sunflower oil
  • pinch of salt
Put the flour and pinch of salt into a large bowl and mix well. Crack the eggs into the middle and add about 50ml milk and the spoon of oil. Start whisking from the centre, gradually drawing the flour into the soggy bits until you have a smooth, thick paste. Now, while still whisking steadily, pour in the rest of the milk until you have a batter just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Add a little vegetable oil to a fying pan and heat until hot. This is a key; for good pancakes the oil needs to be so hot it is just beginning to smoke. So open a window then pour some batter into the pan, tilting the pan around so it gets filled by a thin, even layer. Cook this for about 30 seconds or until the bottom is golden brown, then flip and cook the other side. Take the pancake out onto a warmed plate (keep it flat, don't fold) and cover to keep warm. Repeat with the rest of the batter, occasionally adding a little more oil to the pan as required.

Great! Now you've got your pancakes the next question, of course, is how to eat them. Basically you need to coat the pancake with a dollop of something nice then fold it or roll it up. Here are some variants:
  • Tate & Lyle's Golden Syrup - Sorry if you can't buy this overseas; it's a British thing. Its a thick, thick, golden liquid that sticks to your spoon and is sweeter than anything could ever be.
  • Honey - Not bad; give it a try. The runny sort is easier to work with.
  • Maple Syrup - A sweet American import. Just pour it on.
  • Mincemeat and squirty cream - Another British thing; this is not minced meat; it's the heavy concoction of preserved fruits you get in minced pies and Christmas puddings. Use a spoonful straight from the jar and let the kids enjoy adding their own aerosol cream.
  • Pie fillings - The fruit kind you get in tins. Just drop in a spoonful and maybe add some squirty cream or sugar.
  • Chocolate spread - Personally I think this is going too far, but each to his own.
  • Fresh fruit - Thinly sliced strawberries, with a sprinkling of sugar or a hint of cream, are very good.
  • Ice cream - Use a soft type, don't add too much and eat quickly.
My personal favourite though, and the one I always go back to, is also the simplest. Just drizzle the pancake with lemon juice, sprinkle on a good helping of sugar, roll, and enjoy.
Have a great pancake day! And let me know how you ate yours.


  1. Good post. More enjoyable than quantum physics!

  2. Lemon and sugar ... always go with tradition