Pancake Day

For most of us, Pancake Day is just an excuse to indulge in something sweet. But Shrove Tuesday always preceeds the start of Lent and was the day that pancakes were made to use up all the butter, eggs and milk before fasting began. Legend states that cooks would make three pancakes: "One for Peter, two for Paul and three for Him who made us all."

Apparently every single girl would make a pancake and feed it to the the rooster. The number of hens who joined him would indicate the number of years she would have to wait to get married !

The tradition of a pancake race seems to have started by accident in the 15th century when a busy woman heard the noontide Shrove Tuesday bell ring and rushed to church clutching her frying pan and pancake. These days there are still towns and villages which organise a race, but the prize is more likely to be a voucher than a prayer book. One of the most famous is in Olney, Bucks - still going strong since 1445 !

Whilst the tradtional modern pancake would have been sprinkled with sugar or a generous pouring of syrup, everyone seems to have their favourite ingredient: Strawberries and whipped cream, oranges and Grand Marnier, mixed berries or even bananas.

But there is no reason why you shouldn't opt for a savoury filling. The Dutch have been doing it for years - and not just on Shrove Tuesday. I suspect the first taste of savoury pancakes in the UK came in the seventies when Findus launched their Crispy Pancakes with a minced beef or cheese filling. It came as a complete surprise that these delicacies had made it to the 21st century, albeit with an updated repertoire.

The simplest savoury fillings are based on a bechemel sauce with the addtion of leek, cheese and bacon, chicken and mushroom or salmon and aspargus. And if you're veggie then you can just drop the meat.

The secret to a good pancake is a very hot, solid frying pan or skillet, the merest of oil and a thin layer of batter. So many people now buy ready made pancakes or batter, but it's so simple to make it yourself. Just grab one of our vintage rotary whisks and a mixing bowl, throw in 4 oz of plain flour, 1 beaten egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2pt semi-skimmed milk and beat well.

Add two tablespoons of the batter to the smoking pan ensuring that the whole area is covered. Edging the browned pancake from the sides with a palette knife it's your choice as to whether to toss it in the air or carefully flip it with the knife ! Fill it with whatever takes your fancy, or keep it traditional and sprinkle with sugar and a squeeze of lemon.

Posted in High days & holidays

Published on 04/02/2024 18:22:28
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