You must all have heard of Pancake Day or at the very least, Shrove Tuesday? This year it falls on Tuesday, 24 February so you just have time to check your stocks, get out the pancake pan and start tossing your pancakes!
The term ‘Shrove’ comes from the old word ‘shrive’ which means to confess. On Shrove Tuesday, in the Middle Ages, people used to confess their sins so that they were forgiven before the season of Lent began.
Shroving is a ancient British custom in which children sang or recited poetry in exchange for food or money.
A popular shroving rhyme went like this:
Knock, knock, the pan's hot
And we are coming a-shroving
For a piece of pancake
Or a piece of bacon
Or a piece of truckle* cheese
Of your own making.
*Truckle cheese is barrel shaped and is often mature Cheddar.
Lent is a time of restraint or abstinence. Shrove Tuesday is the last day on which you can indulge yourself and need to use up the foods that aren't allowed in Lent. Pancakes are eaten on this day because they contain fat, butter and eggs which were forbidden during Lent. Throughout the United Kingdom, and in many other countries, people indulge themselves on foods that traditionally aren't allowed during Lent. I believe in the US and French speaking states it is called Mardi Gras. Here some ladies from the mid 1950s enjoy the pancake race!
In the UK this coming Tuesday it is traditionally the day on which pancakes are made to be eaten, tossed or raced with in pancake races!
An English pancake is a thin, flat cake, made of batter and fried in a frying pan. Caster sugar (superfine sugar) is sprinkled over the top and a dash of fresh lemon juice added. The pancake is then rolled. Some people put golden syrup or jam on their pancakes.
100 g (4 oz) plain flour
1 large egg
300 ml (1/2 pint) milk
Pinch of salt
1. Sift the flour and pinch of salt into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Break the egg into the well and whisk the egg so that it starts to incorporate the flour from around the bowl. Gradually add in the milk and continue to beat the mixture together until it is smooth.
2. Heat a little butter in a frying pan and pour about 2-3 tablespoons of the mixture into the pan. Tilt and move the pan until the mixture covers the base evenly. Cook on a medium heat for 30-60 seconds until golden. Flip the pancake and cook on the other side.
3. Keep the pancake warm and repeat with the remainder of the batter.
Sprinkle each pancake caster sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
On a more lighthearted note I spotted this joke….
It was Shrove Tuesday and Mrs Williams was making pancakes for her sons, Justin 5, and Freddy 7.
As usual, the brothers began to argue over who should get the first pancake. Their mother saw a wonderful opportunity for a moral lesson.
'If Jesus were sitting at the table, He would say, "Let my brother have the first pancake".'
Quick as a flash Freddy turned to Justin and said, 'Justin, today you can be Jesus!'