There’s not a huge amount to look forward to in February (especially if you have no one to celebrate Valentine’s Day with), which is why we hold on tight to the tradition of Shrove Tuesday here in the UK. Of course, there’s nothing stopping us making pancakes every day of the year if we want to, but there’s something very British about having a special day to treat ourselves, and treat ourselves we shall. So from where does the concept of Shrove Tuesday originate and how can you guarantee this year’s pancakes will be a success? All your crepe questions will be answered forthwith…
Shrove Tuesday: A Brief History
This annual day of pancake preparation and creation might not seem like a particularly religious thing to undertake but religious it is, being inextricably linked with the Easter Holiday. Shrove Tuesday always takes place the day before Ash Wednesday which is the beginning of Lent, and therefore forty days before Easter Sunday. It’s traditionally a day of repent, with the term coming from ‘shirve’ which means ‘to absolve’. In other parts of the world it’s known as Mardi Gras, which is a literal French translation of ‘Fat Tuesday’, hence giving permission for folks to gorge before they then give up all these naughty things up before Easter.
The Simple Pancake
The internet is awash with many different pancake recipes, but you can’t have a good pancake without a decent base. The best starting point for creating versatile pancakes is to perfect your basic recipe and then add your favourite extras accordingly.
To make a simple batter, all you will need is:
- 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 100g plain flour (sieved)
- A pinch of salt
- 2 large eggs
- 300ml milk
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Once you have sieved the flour and salt into a large bowl, make a small well in the middle and break both eggs into it. Pour in about half of the milk and whisk together until smooth, the gradually add the remaining milk until the batter is of pouring consistency. Ideally you should then leave it overnight in the fridge. If doing so, the batter will thicken, but you can just add a little extra milk if this is the case.
Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan then pour in enough batter to cover the bottom (you can use a ladle for this if easier). Move the pan until a pancake is formed, making sure that the edges don’t stick. Flip after approximately half a minute or until golden brown then repeat on the other side. You may need to add more oil to the pan after the first couple of pancakes.
To make a thicker mixture suitable for smaller scotch pancakes or drop scones, just add less milk so the batter is thick – you should be able to spoon it into the pan without it spreading too much.
Pancake Serving Suggestions
Want to try something other than lemon and sugar this year? Think outside the box and consider pancakes for dinner instead of (or as well as) breakfast. You can create a substantial filling by frying diced potatoes with bacon and spring onion. Place a spoonful in the centre of your pancake, then fold in at the bottom and the edges, or roll up like you would a tortilla. Top with grated cheese then stick under the grill for a few minutes until melted and golden brown.
Another important thing you might want to consider on Shrove Tuesday is what drink you accompany your pancake of choice with. For those opting for an afternoon tea-style sweet pancake, might we suggest an afternoon tea-style British cocktail. Over on our cocktails post we’ve put together a couple of recipes featuring some British ingredients including the Royal Tea, which includes not only tea but also some very British vodka. And nothing says a traditional British Shrove Tuesday (or indeed, ‘Fat Tuesday’) than vodka and pancakes.
So whether or not you choose to give up pancakes (or vodka) for Lent, we think a simple batter is within the reach of most capable folks, and to reward your kitchen efforts, why not treat yourself to a tipple to accompany it too?
By Anna Scott, Writer at My Favourite Voucher Codes, 1st February 2016