Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Shrove Tuesday

The expression "Shrove Tuesday" comes from the word shrive, meaning "confess".
It is the day before Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of Lent. 
Shrove Tuesday, as with many holidays, was pagan in origin.  It marked the transition between the cold and darkness of winter and the fertility of spring. The most important part of Shrovetide week (the whole celebration of the arrival of spring lasted one week) was making and eating pancakes. The hot, round pancakes symbolized the sun and by eating pancakes the individual received the power, light and warmth of the sun.

Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day is exactly 47 days before Easter and is the last day Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of Lent. 

Pancakes are associated with the day preceding Lent because they were a way to use up rich foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent.
On Pancake Day, "pancake races" are held in villages and towns across the United Kingdom.

The tradition is said to have originated in 1445 when a housewife, busy making pancakes, forgot the time until she heard the church bells ringing for a service. She raced out of the house to church while still carrying her frying pan and pancake, tossing it to prevent it from burning. 

The pancake race remains a relatively common festive tradition in the UK, especially England, even today. Participants with frying pans race through the streets tossing pancakes into the air and catching them in the pan while running.

The traditional pancakes are thin and crepe-like. Below is a common recipe for British Shrove Tuesday pancakes.  Give them a try topped with the English accompaniment of lemon and sugar.
  • 225g / 8 oz plain or all-purpose flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 large, fresh eggs
  • 600ml / 2½ cups milk
  • 2 tsp melted butter plus extra melted butter for cooking
  • Makes 12 pancakes

  • Sieve the flour into a large baking bowl, add the salt. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the eggs. Beat well until smooth and lump free.
  • Add half the milk and the 2 tsp of butter, beat well. Add the remaining milk and stir.
  • Leave the batter to rest for 15 minutes.
  • Lightly grease a pancake pan or frying pan with a little melted butter. Heat until very hot and add a ladleful of batter so it evenly and thinly coats the base of the pan. Cook until set and lightly golden.
  • Using a spatula or if you are really brave try tossing the pancake in the air,  and cook on the other side for approx 30 seconds.
  • Slip the pancake from the pan onto a warm plate. Cover the plate with a tea cloth and keep warm.. Continue as above until all the batter is used up.
  • To Serve

    On Pancake Day, pancakes are traditionally eaten sprinkled with sugar and a squeeze of lemon.


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