Pass the sugar please

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Pancake Day is finally here, excited?

In the UK, Pancake Day is also known as Shrove Tuesday, which is the day before Ash Wednesday. The word ‘shrove’ derives from the old word ‘shrive’, meaning confession. It is in fact a religious festival for Christians to repent and pray for forgiveness. Pancake making marks the beginning of Lent, which is a season of fasting and giving up. Some Christian families use up all the foods that are traditionally forbidden during the abstinence of the forty day period, including eggs, milk, butter and fats.

There have been various types of pancake customs since the 1800’s. In the UK, ‘Lent Crocking’ was a custom where kids would chant songs and poems from house to house for pancakes. What is more interesting is the Welsh children kicked tins along the street to celebrate the giving up of pans for Lent.

Pancake races is a long lived tradition which dates back to 1445. Today, the English race with a pan while tossing the pancake in it. Traditionally, any male participants had to dress up as a housewife with bandanas and aprons.

Making pancakes with your friends is a great way to spend an otherwise dismal Tuesday evening. Here’s Delia Smith’s basic pancake recipe:

Ingredients

110g of plain flour with pinch of salt

2 eggs

200ml milk mixed with 75ml water

50g butter

Sift the flour and salt,held high above the bowl so as to get an airing. Break and whisk the eggs into the well made in the middle of the flour.

Add a little milk and water while whisking, and use a rubber spatula to scrape any flour from around the edge into the centre, then whisk until the batter is smooth. Put 2 tbsp of melted 50g butter into the batter and whisk it in, then pour the rest to lubricate the pan. Use kitchen paper to smear it round.

Preheat the pan then turn it down to medium. Do a test pancake to check the correct amount of batter. 2 tbsp is about right for an 18cm pan.

Spoon the batter into a ladle. Tip the pan to get the base evenly coated with batter. It should take only half a minute; lift the edge to see if it’s golden. Toss the pancake with a pan slice or palette knife – the other side needs only a few seconds – then simply slide it out of the pan onto a plate.

Stack the pancakes as you make them between sheets of greaseproof paper on a plate fitted over simmering water.

To serve, sprinkle pancakes with lemon juice and caster sugar, fold in half, then in half again to form triangles, or roll them up. Serve sprinkled with a little more sugar and lemon juice and extra lemon sections. Or go wild and make your own concoction of ingredients- why not try Nutella and banana? Or make a savoury one with ham and cheese like the Dutch. Happy eating!

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