Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake day in modern times is the day before the start of lent. It does not fall on a set date each year but falls 47 days before Easter. The word ‘shrove’ comes from ‘shrive’, which means “to absolve’ and in times past a person would have been “shriven of their sins.”
Lent, which starts the following day is observed by Christians of various denominations such as Anglicans, Roman Catholics to mention but a couple. Lent is a period of fasting and you might be aware of people giving a particular thing up such as crisps, sugar, chocolate etc.
In other parts of the world, Shrove Tuesday is also known as Mardi Gras. This is French for ‘Fat Tuesday’. Countries such as Brazil, Tenerife and the US state of New Orleans hold a carnival and fatty, indulgent foods are eaten before the start of Lent.
Pancakes are a good way of using up eggs and fats such as butter which will not last the Lenten fast. The basic recipe is flour, eggs, salt, butter, and milk. You can find my recipe below. The original printed recipe dates back to 1439. The flat pancake makes a good wrap to put other ingredients in, including savory foods.
Only a few years back when I was writing for an old website ‘RecipeBrag’, I learned a significance of each ingredient.
Flour = The staff of life
Eggs = Creation
Salt = Wholesomeness
Milk = Purity.
If I have the time, I will write more about this later on.
In the UK, pancakes are a big thing on Shrove Tuesday and often the tradition of pancake races are observed. A town near where I used to live called ‘Olney’ in Buckinghamshire was where the first ever race was to take place. In 1445 a woman cooking pancakes heard the shriving bell. As she was later, she ran to church with her apron on, frying pan in hand and this was the start of pancake racing.
- 100g plain flour
- 2 free range eggs
- Pinch of salt
- 300ml full fat milk
- 1 Add the eggs and salt to the flour. Whisk until a paste is formed.
- 2 Gradually whisk in the milk a bit at a time until the batter is smooth.
- 3 Rest for 15-30 minutes.
- 4 Cook by adding a ladel full of batter to a frying pan. Once the bottom is lightly brown toss or flip the pancake so the top is then cooked.