Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pancake Day

I'm still in the UK, getting ready for my return to the Kitchen Garden in France and today is Pancake Day.

I love pancake day and it brings back many fond memories...

As a child, my mother always made pancakes on Pancake Day and it was a real treat.   Not just for me, either, as my father loved them possibly a little more than I did.  He certainly always got more!

Today also bring back memories of fun evenings with friends.   I remember back probably 30 years ago.  I was living in south Wales and one day I was telling one of my fiends that I'd be making pancakes that evening as it was pancake day.  She looked at me incredulously and simply asked, "Do you know how to make pancakes?"

"Come and see!" I replied

The result was a tradition that we built up over the next 20 odd years where, every pancake day, she and her husband, came for dinner and to help make pancakes.  Thinking back, I don't know how we ever managed to make a single pancake as there was so much giggling going on in the kitchen.

Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras as it is otherwise called, is an old Christian festival dating back 1000 years where there is a feast on the last day before lent, in order to use up the foods that should not be eaten during that time.

In England, since the 15th century, the food has been used up by making pancakes, hence the name "Pancake Day".  The biggest pancake ever made was made in Rochdale in 1994 and measured 15 metres, about 50 feet, in diameter and weighing in at 3 tonnes (6600 lbs).   There is also a tradition in the Buckinghamshire town of Olney to hold a pancake race on Pancake day, where contestants, who must be housewives who have lived in the town for more than six months and wear an apron and scarf or hat, run a race whilst tossing a pancake.

pancake tossing

It's quite hard taking a photo of yourself, tossing a pancake, using time delay to allow yourself to get back into the photo, pick up the pan and actually toss the pancake, only to find that it went higher than you hoped and was almost out of the frame!!!

My own recipe is very simple

Basic Pancake Batter

(makes eight) 
100g plain flour
Pinch of salt
3 large eggs
200ml milk
A little oil for frying

Place the flour, salt and eggs in a large bowl with half the milk. Whisk until the mixture is lump-free. Add the remaining milk and whisk again until smooth. If you prefer place all the ingredients together in a food processor and blend until smooth, Pour the batter into a jug. The batter can be made in advance and chilled for up to eight hours before use.
Heat a 20cm/8in diameter non-stick frying pan until hot, drizzle a little oil over the centre and wipe it around with a piece of kitchen paper. Now pour a little of the batter into the pan and immediately tilt the pan to spread the batter thinly and evenly over the base. Cook for two minutes or until the top is set and the base golden. Turn the pancake over with a spatula or if you are feeling brave, flip the pancake!
Cook for a further one to two minutes or until the base is golden. Transfer to a plate and interleave with greaseproof paper, keep warm. Use the batter and a little more oil to make a further seven pancakes in the same way.

  • Serve simply by dusting with sugar, adding a squeeze of lemon and rolling.
  • OR, as soon as you have titled the pan to spread the batter sprinkle in a few sultanas then cook as before.
  • I have a friend who insists on taking the pancake but adding golden syrup instead of sugar and lemon

or try them in the following recipe idea.

French Mushroom, Ham & Goats Cheese Crepe
Fill the pancakes with sliced mushrooms sauteed in oil, a slice of ham, then top with thinly sliced goats cheese. Fold up to enclose the filling then pop under a hot grill until the cheese begins to melt. Serve scattered with flat parsley.

OH, I used to make the batter in the traditional way adding the milk, beating, adding more milk, beating again etc.  Now... I just throw everything into a food processor and let it do the work.  I can't tell the difference.

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