It will soon be Shrove Tuesday, the day we all call “Pancake Tuesday”, some cultures refer to it as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday but where did this ritual come from and why pancakes?
Did you know that…
In most traditions Shrove Tuesday precedes Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent and the beginning of ritual fasting before the big feast of Easter. The reason we eat pancakes is that they are made out of foods such as sugar, fat, flour and eggs that traditionally needed using up before the ritual 40 days of fasting for Lent begins when consumption of such rich foods was traditionally restricted.
Throughout the UK, pancake races are held on Shrove Tuesday where participants race through the streets tossing their pancakes without tripping over in a bid to get to the finishing line. If men take part they are encouraged to wear an apron and often a bandana!
I love pancakes but they are quite tricky to get right, especially the frying and tossing bit.
The recipe I use for the batter is:
Serves 6-8 thin pancakes
- 150g plain flour
- 2 eggs
- 225ml semi-skim/skim or soya milk
- 225ml water
For vegan pancakes – omit eggs, use soya milk and you can add gram flour and poppy seeds to give more texture.
It’s best to make the batter the day before and store it in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
How to make the batter:
Weigh out the flour and sieve into a large mixing bowl
Make a “well” in the flour and add the eggs
Give it a good mix
Gradually add the milk and water but whisk briskly as you add them
Keep whisking until you get a lovely smooth but thick consistency
Cover the bowl and leave in the fridge overnight
Take batter mixture out of the fridge and give it a really good whisk until you can see lots of tiny air bubbles.
Get a large frying pan (ideally non-stick) and add about a teaspoon of veg/sunflower oil.
Heat it up to get piping hot.
Use a cup or a ladle and pour your pancake batter so it just covers the bottom of the frying pan when you swish it around.
This is the tricky bit –
Make sure you keep a watchful eye on your pancake as it cooks
Use a slice to stop the sides sticking to the pan
When you think the first side is cooked, carefully flip over and cook the other side.
When the pancake is thoroughly cooked on both slides and moves around the pan then go ahead and Toss It!
But….. watch out for pets passing by and low ceilings
Finally place on a plate and smother with your favourite topping
My personal favourite is freshly squeezed lemon and a sprinkling of sugar.
I would be very interested to hear yours.
Here are a few other ideas for toppings all suitable for vegetarians. Apologies in advance for
the cheesy one.
Melted mozzarella, tomato and basil
Spinach and mushroom
Cream cheese with green salad leaves
Stewed berries with crème fraiche/cream/yoghurt
Apple slices with alcohol of choice
Melted chocolate with orange
Freshly squeezed lemon and sugar
Maple syrup and banana with vanilla ice cream/iced yoghurt
The Nutrition Bit
Although pancakes are inevitably high in calories, the toppings can be as healthy or as indulgent as you want them to be. As a Nutritionist I don’t have a problem with eating an indulgent treat once in a while as long as it is a treat and not a daily habit!
It’s always a good idea to have a lighter main course like carrot soup or a salad if you are eating pancakes for dessert. One of the ingredients of pancakes: eggs are a great source of high quality protein for vegetarians, they also contain many vitamins and minerals including iron and B2 (Riboflavin).
Tuck in and enjoy your pancakes responsibly!
Photo credit: Genevieve Howard, Flickr, Creative Commons frugal-cafe.com