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5 years of living in the UK and still learning… Welcome to Shrove Tuesday everyone!

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

Time flies!... it's going to be 5 years this summer since we decided to move to England. Mind you, 2020 doesn’t really count, does it?!

I have learnt lots of interesting aspects of Britain culture while living here; starting with the language, followed by uniquely British etiquette, the wonders of afternoon tea, and of course the British sense of humour... and I'm glad to say that I'm still learning!

I have often heard about "Pancake Day" - What a wonderful day, where British families gather around, smiling and laughing, cooking and eating as many pancakes as they can. What a lovely picture – and oh the anticipation of those lovely pancakes! While I think of it, why do you only cook them once a year?

But what I have never thought of before, is that Pancake Day - or Shrove Tuesday to give it the correct name - has such a wonderful and very interesting story behind.

"Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, is the traditional feast day before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Lent – the 40 days leading up to Easter – was traditionally a time of fasting and on Shrove Tuesday, Anglo-Saxon Christians went to confession and were “shriven” (absolved from their sins). A bell would be rung to call people to confession. This came to be called the “Pancake Bell” and is still rung today.

Shrove Tuesday always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday, so the date varies from year to year and falls between February 3 and March 9. In 2021 Shrove Tuesday will fall on February 16th.

Shrove Tuesday was the last opportunity to use up eggs and fats before embarking on the Lenten fast and pancakes are the perfect way of using up these ingredients."

The traditional English pancake is very thin and it is served immediately with golden syrup or lemon juice and caster sugar. The tradition says that you have to flip them using a frying pan and I’m still refining my technique.

Did you know that pancakes have been featured in cookery books as far back as 1439!? And that each ingredient has its own symbol?

  • Flour ~ The staff of life

  • Eggs ~ Creation

  • Milk ~ Purity

  • Salt ~ Wholesomeness

Isn't that beautiful? So, now we know that we are talking about… these are "serious pancakes", and it is therefore a big responsibility to cook them properly.

  • 8oz plain flour

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 pint milk

  • salt

  • butter/oil/fat for cooking

Mix all together and whisk well. Leave to stand for 30 minutes. Heat a little of the fat in a frying pan, pour in enough batter to cover the base of the pan and let it cook until the base of the pancake has browned. With the help of a spatula flip the pancake to the other side and cook for approximately 30 seconds. If you are feeling really brave, you can “toss” your pancake in the hope that it returns the right way up to the pan to continue cooking. Alternatively, you will be scraping it off the kitchen floor – or worse, the kitchen ceiling!

I would also like to suggest different pancake toppings that you could serve with instead of the traditional ones:

  • Mixed berries and icing sugar

  • Butter and fruit jam

  • Golden syrup and sliced almonds

  • Honey and whipped cream

  • Chocolate spread

  • Dulce de leche and cream

  • Maple syrup

  • Cinnamon, sliced banana and icecream

  • Any combination of the above you care to choose

Do you have any ideas of your own to add to this list? Did somebody say pancakes? I’m all ready to cook! ☺

Information from: Historic UK website


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