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What is Pancake Day ? - A Brief History and Pancake Recipe

Updated on October 20, 2011

Pancake day; that day that roughly marks the end of cold dreary winters and welcomes in the promise, if not the reality, of spring.

Of course, we all love pancakes, despite their basic nature but why do we predominantly eat them on Shrove Tuesday and why Pancakes at all ?

Shrove Tuesday is the day preceding Lent when traditionally families would fast and deny themselves pleasure to repent for their sins and clean their souls. So in effect Shrove Tuesday or Pancake day was a bit of a medieval blow out where people would gorge themselves as much as they could on forbidden ingredients such as sugar, fat and eggs, before abstinence took over.

There are still many festivities on Shrove Tuesday although these are perhaps less as we becme more and more secular, but some still remain and are especially strong in small villages where traditions help to bond a community.

An example of this is Shrove Tuesday football, sometimes called Mob Football however this is now practised in only a few places as a law passed in 1835 banned the game of football on public highways.

An equivalent of Shrove Tuesday is practised in many countries with different names and different foods, though the principal remains the same .. gorge on rich foods before astinence starts, though of course, it rarely does.

So now for the main point of Shrove Tuesday for most people .... Pancakes !!!

And here's a simple recipe that makes approximately 8 pancakes:


250ml milk

120g flour

1 large egg

1tsp fine sugar, possibly caster sugar

a little salt

oil for frying


1) Beat all the ingredients together with about 1/3 of the milk until the mixture is smooth with no lumps

2) Rub a little oil into a heavy non stick frying pan and heat.

3) Pour some of the mixture into the pan, tilting it so that the mixture spreads evenly.

4) After about 1 minute or when the bottom starts to brown just a little, turn over (or toss the pancake if you are brave enough) and cook until that side is brown too.

5) Tip onto a plate and serve with a little sugar and lemon juice or you could have dark sugar and orange juice or anything that takes your fancy. maple Syrup is a popular choice in the USA and Canada

6) Enjoy it!!!

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