Sunday, March 1, 2009

Pancake Tuesday on Sunday!

Actually, I did make these pancakes (crepes) on Shrove Tuesday, (February 24th, Mardi Gras here), but I’m such a slacker that I am only just getting around to posting about them.

Shrove Tuesday is so called in England because it used to be a day of confession and forgiveness, or shriving, prior to Lent, a forty-day period of fasting which began the following day on Ash Wednesday. Shrove Tuesday is also synonymous with pancakes. In earlier times eggs and dairy products were forbidden during the Lenten fast, and pancakes were the perfect way for housewives to use up these ingredients.

In England, many celebrations are held on this day, but perhaps the most famous is the Pancake Day Race held at Olney in Buckinghamshire, an annual tradition since 1445. Legend has it that a woman cooking pancakes heard the church bells summoning her to confession. She ran to the church still clad in her apron and carrying her frying pan, thus starting a custom which continues to this day.

The rules of the race require the contestants, all women, to wear traditional housewifely garb of dress or skirt, apron, and hat or scarf. They must also toss their pancakes at the start and finish of the 415-yard dash. The winner receives a kiss and a blessing, "The peace of the Lord be always with you," from the vicar of the parish.

In 1950, the race became a transatlantic affair when the townspeople of Liberal, Kansas, became involved. After seeing press photographs of the race, Liberal challenged Olney to a contest. Ever since the two towns have competed annually.

I remember cooking pancakes for Mick, in the first year of our marriage ― and it almost became our last. Far from being able to toss my pancakes, I struggled to turn them over at all, and they fell to pieces when I tried to remove them from the pan. Despite assurances from Mick that they tasted great, I became more and more frustrated with my efforts. To make matters worse, I had to watch hungrily while he ate one after another of my pathetic offerings. I was so angry I could have cheerfully whacked him with the frying pan.

In the end, Mick saved the day. He sat me down with a glass of wine, and cooked dinner for me ― not pancakes, I hasten to add. Things have move on a pace since those early days, I now wonder why I found it so difficult. Oh hum!



½ cup all-purpose flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk mixed with ¼ cup water
1/2 stick butter

To serve:

Superfine or confectioner’s sugar
1 lemon, chopped into wedges

  • Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour break the eggs into it and whisk. Gradually add milk and water mixture, and whisk until the batter is smooth.
  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons of melted butter to the batter and whisk it in. Use remaining butter to grease a 10-inch sauté pan before you make each pancake.
  • Get pan really hot, reduce heat to medium. Using a pastry brush smear a little butter around base of pan. Add ¾ of a soup ladle (approx. 8 tablespoons) of batter to pan. Tilt pan around to get the base evenly coated with batter.
  • After about 1 minute or so lift the edge of the pancake with a spatula, it should be a golden brown. Flip the pancake over with a spatula and cook the other side for about 20 seconds.
  • Slide pancake out of the pan onto a plate. Sprinkle with freshly squeezed lemon juice and fine sugar, roll the pancake up and serve immediately.


Paula said...

That's an AWESOME story! I wondered where the word "shrove" came from and now I know! That race sounds hysterical, and I bet everyone who attends has a lot of fun. Your recipe is wonderful, too, and I'm glad that you have greater success with them now than as a newlywed! YUM!

Cheryl said...

Man those look good, and I sooo love the history lesson as well!

Jason said...

I love crepes! I was just talking to a friend the other day about them, how ironic.

Beth said...

I avoid pancakes like the plague. Im getting better. I like golden syrup and lemon on mine!!

Pam said...

Great story. Sounds like a fun race. The pancakes look heavenly - my daughter LOVES pancakes, I need to make these for her.

Lynda said...

I love the history lesson and the yummy looking pancakes as well!

How's the teeth this week? Hope you're able to eat a alittle better.

Denise said...

That looks delicious and this is a wonderful post as I enjoyed reading all the other info you put in here. Hard to believe we waited a whole year for pancakes (crepes). How I used to love seeing my mother toss them in the air. Exciting and fun and good memories.

Donna-FFW said...

Such a sweet story. I have NEVER seen such light and airy pancakes. I have got to try them. They are calling my name.. actually they are saying eat me.

The Blonde Duck said...

Those pancakes look divine. And they sound even better with that history behind them!

Emily said...

Pancakes! Ohhhh those sound so good. I want a big stack of them saturated in syrup.

I like that we have a day dedicated to pancakes.

Looks great!

Sara said...

These look so delicious, I could go for some right about now!

Jan said...

That's what I like to see 'proper' pancakes! Just the lemon and sugar does for me - they are just not the same with anything else on them!

Maria said...

I love pancakes any day of the week!

Kevin said...

Those rolled pancakes look good! They do take a bit of practice to get used to.

Mediterranean kiwi said...

i have to try this - your pancakes look delicious

i do get corny over all those old-fashioned english customs which my parents never took part in, even though i grew up in new zealand - i feel like it's part of my lost childhood, since i now live in another part of the world that doesnt celebrate this event

i have to bookmark this recipe - i love the look of your ones