Pancake Day is a British holiday celebrated on the Tuesday 40 days before Easter. This year, it is on the 28th of February.
Traditionally, Pancake Day is called “Shrove Tuesday” and for people who follow Christianity, it is the day when you have to eat all of the luxurious foods in your cupboard before you give them up completely for 40 days. This is to celebrate the 40 days that Jesus fasted (didn’t eat food) in the desert. Shrove Tuesday was the last opportunity to use up eggs and fats such as butter, before starting the 40 day fast.
The 40 day period of fasting is called “Lent” and begins on a day called “Ash Wednesday” when people go to church and have a cross drawn on their forehead with ash.
As Britain becomes less and less religious, Shrove Tuesday has become more secular (non-religious) and the focus has moved from the religious meaning to food. Especially pancakes.
A pancake is a thin, flat cake, made of batter (a kind of dough which is liquid) and it is fried in a frying pan and served immediately. Usually, you add golden syrup, lemon juice or caster sugar as a topping. The ingredients for pancakes are eggs, flour, salt and milk, and they are said to represent creation, life, cleanliness and purity.
The pancake has an extremely long history and was in cookbooks from as early as 1439. The tradition of tossing or flipping them is almost as old:
"And every man and maide doe take their turne, And tosse their Pancakes up for feare they burne."
(Pasquil's Palin, 1619)
How many words can you understand from this old form of English?
Here’s how to make pancakes:
★ 230 grams of plain flour
★ 2 large eggs
★ 570 millilitres of milk
1. Mix all together and whisk well.
2. Leave to stand for 30 minutes.
3. Heat a little oil in a frying pan.
4. Pour in enough batter to cover the base of the pan and let it cook until the base of the pancake has browned.
5. Shake the pan to loosen the pancake and flip the pancake over to brown the other side.
If you’re not planning on fasting, try making them this evening.