There are headlines about Shrove Tuesday in almost all the foodie publications right now – except not everyone is calling it Shrove Tuesday. Most people here in the UK simply refer to it as “Pancake Day”. In a recent survey four in five people admitted that they did not know what Shrove Tuesday is actually all about or why we eat pancakes that day.
As a Christian I love the idea of inclusivity – after all almost everyone loves pancakes and it’s great to have a reason to celebrate this time of year. However, it also saddens me that a tradition that has its roots in a deep faith has become so secular that the reason behind it has been forgotten.
Want to know more? Read on – or scroll down for my very favourite pancake recipe.
Shrove Tuesday is the last day before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, and to practicing Christians, Lent is a pretty big deal. Lent is a commemoration of Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness before he began His ministry. And when I say wilderness I mean freezing cold at night, blistering hot in the daytime Middle Eastern desert, with no food and barely enough water to survive. During this very testing time, Jesus was joined by Satan, whose plan was to tempt Him out of following God’s plan for our salvation. This plan involved Jesus’ death on the cross – the redemption for all our sins. This, and Jesus’ resurrection from the dead three days later on Easter Sunday, are at the very core of the Christian faith.
Most Christians give up something during Lent or follow a special Bible study or devotions. Some still fast certain days during this time. There aren’t any strict rules we have to follow anymore, every Christian marks Lent in their own way.
Years ago, it was more serious. The church forbade the consumption of most animal products during Lent, including milk and eggs. You weren’t even supposed to have them in the house, so there would be a sense of urgency to use up any of the eggs, milk, sugar and flour that you had on hand. Hmm, eggs, milk, sugar, flour…yep, they add up to some pretty nice pancakes! And as regular, corporate fasting was also a part of Lent, a feast the day before it started was a very good idea indeed.
And thus the tradition of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday was born. It’s a tradition I love. As Tuesday is a weekday and mornings start early at our house, my family and I usually enjoy thick, fluffy North American pancakes for our evening meal. This is my absolute favourite recipe, which comes to me by way of my lovely cousin, Esther. It’s been in the family for a many years, and it makes gorgeous, light, fluffy pancakes every single time.
My Favourite Pancake Recipe
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- a generous pinch of salt
- ½ cup sour cream or crême fraîche
- 1 cup milk
- 2 eggs, beaten
- ¼ cup melted butter, cooled a bit
- Heat a griddle or frying pan over medium heat.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In another medium bowl or pitcher, combine the sour cream or crême fraîche, milk, beaten eggs and melted butter.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients all at once, stirring until just combined.
- Lightly grease the griddle or frying pan.
- You will need to cook the pancakes in batches. A quarter cup measure makes a good size pancake. Place dollops of batter, about an inch apart, on the griddle or frying pan.
- Cook without disturbing until bubbles form and break on the surface.
- Turn the pancakes over with a spatula or egg flipper.
- Cook for another minute or so until done.
- Serve immediate with butter and real maple syrup.