Shrove Tuesday and the Tradition of Eating Pancakes
What is Shrove Tuesday?
Shrove Tuesday is commonly referred to as in the UK as Pancake Day. It's the day before the start of Lent, when Christians traditionally commit to giving up some form of luxury in the run-up to Easter.
So why pancakes?
Well, traditionally the foods which were restricted included sugar, fat, flour and eggs. A simple way to use up supplies of these ingredients before Lent began was to make pancakes.
A few facts
The word Shrove comes from the word 'shrive', meaning to confess. In the Middle Ages, people confessed their sins on Shrove Tuesday so they were forgiven before Lent began.
The date of Shrove Tuesday always falls 47 days ahead of Easter Sunday, so it's a moveable feast. This means that in 2012, the date is 21st February. In 2013, it will be 12th February.
Shrove Tuesday is known as Pancake Day in the UK, Ireland, Australia and Canada, amongst other places.
Another name for the day is Mardi Gras, meaning Fat Tuesday.
Many town and villages in the UK hold pancake races, where people run a short distance while carrying a frying pan and flipping pancakes. Traditionally women compete in these races and if men want to take part, they have to dress up as a housewife in an apron and headscarf.
Scotch Pancake Recipe
Ingredients (makes about 15 small pancakes)
120g self-raising flour (4 ounces)
30g caster sugar (1 ounce)
1/4 pint milk.
Sift the flour into a bowl, add a pinch of salt and the sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Create a little well in the centre of the flour mix and pour in the eggs and milk mixture. Whisk thoroughly to form a smooth batter.
Using a small amount of oil, grease your frying pan (in Scotland a griddle is traditionally used) and place over a medium heat. Use a spoon to drop the batter into the frying pan. Watch the cooking process closely and, when the surface is covered in bubbles, the pancake is ready to turn. If you're feeling adventurous, you can flip the pancake (when I try it, the result is usually catastrophic). Cook until golden brown.
Serve with whipped cream and fresh strawberries, or for a really decadent treat, spread some Nutella over the pancakes and add a dollop of cream.