Catholic Recipe: Perfect Pancakes
Shrove Tuesday, now frequently referred to as Pancake Day, is the day before Ash Wednesday. IN the days when Lent was strictly observed as a time of fasting, Shrove Tuesday was the day when feasting and merry-making was the rule.
On that day, people were called to church to confess their sins and be 'shriven' (forgiven) before Lent began. Eggs were among the forbidden foods of the Lenten season, so one way to use them up was to cook pancakes.
In Britain, Shrove Tuesday was sometimes called 'goodies day' and the bell that called the faithful to church was known as the pancake bell. But it was not only pancakes that were on offer, as a traditional verse of 1684 hints:
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, toasting. From Poor Robin's AlamanackAll kinds of strange customs are associated with Shrove Tuesday. One is the annual pancake race held in the town of Olney in England. The story goes that it started in 1445 when a housewife who was late cooking her pancakes heard the church bell and ran to church taking her griddle and batter along with her.
Ever since, the Olney pancake race has been held, involving women who must run from the town square to the church, tossing a pancake in their pan at least three times along the route. In 1950 the race gained an international dimension when housewives in Liberal, Kansas, challenged their Olney counterparts. The winners' times were compared by transatlantic telephone.
In Sweden the day is known as Fat Tuesday. The dish of the day is the Fat Tuesday bun which is filled with almond paste and whipped cream and served floating in a bowl of hot milk.
In Belgium, children enjoy an Easter version of carol singing. They are rewarded with nuts, apples and strips of bacon which should traditionally be cooked outdoors on long willow sticks.
Perhaps the strangest custom of all originated with the Dutch farmers of Zeeland. It involved taking their horses, splendidly groomed and bedecked with paper roses, down to the beach to wet their hooves in the sea. This symbol of cleansing was followed by a feast back at the village.
Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl.
Make a well in the middle and pour in the eggs. Add half the milk gradually and beat well to give a sticky consistency. Mix in the remaining milk. Stir in the oil just before cooking.
Melt a little fat in the pan, just enough to cover the base. Let the fat get very hot and nearly smoking. Use about two spoonsful of batter for each pancake, tipping pan to spread it thinly.
Cook at medium heat for about two minutes until light brown underneath. Turn with a spatula, or toss (see above) to cook other side.
Keep cooked pancakes on a hot covered dish. Serve with lemon and sugar, honey or maple syrup, or roll and add delicious fruit fillings.
To Toss a pancake
Shake the pan before attempting to toss. The pancake should move freely if it is cooked.
Hold the pan loosely with your wrist relaxed and facing downwards. Give the pan a sharp flick upwards and be ready to catch your pancake as it flips over and lands!Recipe Source: Family Easter Book, The by Alan MacDonald, Lion Publishing, 1993