This year Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday falls on Tuesday 28 February and races involving the tossing of pancakes are just one of the ancient traditions that will be taking place.
Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, marks the final feast day before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. The period of Lent, which is the 40 days leading up to Easter, is a time of fasting. On Shrove Tuesday, Anglo-Saxon
Christians went to confession and were "shriven" (absolved from their sins). A bell would be rung to call people to confession. Shrove Tuesday always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday, so the date varies from year to year and falls between February 3 and March 9.
Shrove Tuesday was the last opportunity to use up eggs and fats before Lent and pancakes are the perfect way of using up these ingredients. The pancake has a very long history and featured in cookery books as far back as 1439. You can even find recipes from The good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin
of 1594 reprinted on various historical websites, and the recipes we use today remain basically the same. Many sources claim that the ingredients for pancakes are symbolic and pertinent for this time of year: eggs are for creation; Flour is the staff of life; salt for wholesomeness, and milk for purity.
To make about eight generous pancakes you will need 225g plain flour, 2 large eggs, 600ml milk and a pinch of salt. Simply mix all the ingredients together and whisk well. Leave to stand for 30 minutes. Heat a little oil in a frying pan, pour in enough batter to cover the base of the pan and let it cook until the base of the pancake is golden. Then shake the pan to loosen the pancake and flip the pancake over by tossing it in the air to brown the other side. You can, of course, use a spatula to turn the pancake, but where is the fun in that? Indeed pancake tossing is a highlight of Shrove Tuesday with pancake races forming an important part of the day’s celebrations – the object of the race is to get to the finishing line first, carrying a frying pan with a cooked pancake in it and flipping the pancake as you run.
Once a pancake is ready it is best eaten immediately, often with a splash of lemon and some sugar. However pancakes are versatile can form the basis of a variety of dishes and can be stuffed with either sweet or savoury ingredients.
Check out our delicious banana and chocolate chip recipe