Pancakes for Fat Tuesday
Fat Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday, is celebrated in Britain with pancakes.
In the British calendar the final Tuesday before Lent is known as “Shrove Tuesday,” though it’s more often referred to as “pancake day” in modern times. The derivation of the word “shrove” is unclear but it is thought to be derived from “shriving” or asking forgiveness for sins, a typical Christian activity on this day.Skip to next paragraph
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As the final day before Lent, Shrove Tuesday is also traditionally a day of feasting before the Lentern abstinence or fasting that evokes Jesus’ 40 days and nights in the desert. The pancake bit comes from the fact that in order to find it easier to abstain, one should use up all ones flour, milk, sugar and eggs on Shrove Tuesday, and while a lot of things can be made from those basic ingredients, the Brits – long ago – decided pancakes were the thing to make. And, since the combination of these ingredients makes for a high calorie experience, Shrove Tuesday (it’s such a puritanical idea – shriving, isn’t it?) is known as Mardi Gras in French, or literally, fat Tuesday. Those Catholics have all the fun, don’t they?
IN PICTURES: It's Mardi Gras time all over the world!
British pancakes have more in common with the a French-style crepe than they do with the thicker, but smaller pancakes common in America, although the recipe is largely the same. On pancake day it’s quite common to have a mixture of both savory and sweet pancakes, though the sweet versions are the more popular. (We had both savory and sweet – see savory filling recipe below.) Typical fillings are very simple and are often limited to powdered sugar and jam or nutella, or just a squeeze of fresh fruit juice. My family’s favorite filling is granulated (plain, white) sugar and lemon juice. The less stuff you have in the middle, the more pancakes you can have, see…?
Of course, you don’t have to wait another year before making some pancakes, though. They make great desserts, first courses, or even main meals depending on the filling and the size of your pan, and they are dead easy to make. So, go ahead, treat yourselves tonight, unless you’ve given up pancakes for Lent, that is.
Here’s how they’re made.
Sweet and Savory British Pancakes
Pancake (or Crepe) Batter Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups milk
1 cup plain flour
1 egg and 1 egg-yolk
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter (optional)
1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)
Savory British Pancake Filling
Creamy Tarragon Mushrooms Savory Filling Ingredients:
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 shallot, finely diced
1/2 leek, finely sliced
3 button mushrooms, slice thinly
2 tablespoons tarragon, chopped finely
4 tablespoons light cream
1/2 tablespoon butter
salt & black pepper
Other Savory Ingredients:
6 ounces smoked salmon
6 asparagus spears, cut into 2” pieces and either sauteed or steamed till cooked but still crunchy
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