We all know Shrove Tuesday as Pancake Day but in effect it is the last day before Lent i.e. Ash Wednesday.
In the Middle ages people were called to Church to be "shriven" to confess their sins have their sins and be forgiven in preparation for Lent. Lent used to be observed very strictly as a time of fasting. Shrove Tuesday was therefore a day for feasting and merry making. There were certain forbidden foods during Lent and one of them was Eggs; so to use up the surplus they used to make pancakes -hence pancake day. In this country Shrove Tuesday was sometimes referred to as "Goodies Day". The bell that called the faithful to church was known as the pancake bell but it wasn't the only goody on offer.
The following verse was taken from Poor Robins Almanack
But Hark I hear the pancake bell
And Fritters make a gallant smell
~The Cooks are baking, frying, boyling
Stewing, mincing,cutting, broyling
Carving, gormandising, roasting
Carbonading, cracking, slashing,
There are all sorts of strange customs associated with Pancake Day, pancake races being one of them; the race is traditionally run by women; tradition has it that the pancake race started in a village called Olney in 1445 when a housewife was late in cooking her pancakes, heard the church bell and ran to church taking her griddle and her batter along with her. Ever since the race has been contested by women who must run from the Town Squaqre to the church in Olney tossing their pancake at least three times along the route. Since then it has gone world wide.
Here's a recipe for Pancakes
Pancakes makes approximately 12
4oz plain flour
10 fl oz milk
pinch of salt
Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl.
Make a well in the middle of the sieved ingredients and pour in the eggs.
Add half of the milk very gradually and then beat well to give a sticky gungy consistency. Mix in the remaining milk (I use a balloon whisk to do this). Stir in the oil just prior to use
Melt a little fat in a pan just enough to cover the base (until a blue haze is seen) you have to get it very hot but not on fire. Use approximately two two spoonsful of batter for each pancake tipping the pan to spread it thinly. Cook at a medium heat for about two minutes until light brown turn with a fish slice or if you are feeling brave "toss" go on have a go and then continue cooking on the other side.
I keep cooked pancakes one on top of the other in a hot covered dish with foil over the top. Serve up with fresh orange or lemon juice and caster sugar sprinkling liberally with both. Roll up to serve.
A couple of other ideas are to serve with tinned fruit i.e. mandarin oranges, a dollop of whipped cream and/or home made ice cream. Blueberries, ice cream or fresh cream (or the tinned whipped cream) - cherry or apple pie fillings are also good.
Tossing the pancake"
Shake the pan to loosen the pancake round the edges if the pancake is cooked the pancake should slide and move freely within the pan.
Hold the pan loosely with wrist relaxed and facing towards the pan handle. Give a quick sharp flick flicking the pan and pancake upwards but be ready to catch it as it flips over and then hopefully lands in your pan.