It’s Pancake Day tomorrow, says Sarah Hardy, as she gets ready with her frying pan
It’s time to stock up on Nutella and lemon juice as Pancake Day approaches. The date varies each year and this year it is tomorrow, Tuesday, February 16, Shrove Tuesday, and is followed by Ash Wednesday which marks the start of Lent – the six weeks before the beginning of Easter celebrations.
Pancakes are thought to date back to Roman times, when they were made from wheat flour, olive oil, honey and curdled milk. They were whipped into a thin batter and heated on a hot stone.
In more recent times, they were made to use up foods traditionally given up for Lent, a time of fasting, like meat, eggs and dairy. Nowadays those items are more likely to be chocolate, wine or cigarettes!
The expression Shrove Tuesday comes from the word shrive, meaning to absolve, to free from guilt.
Nobody really knows how the tradition of flipping them came about – one story goes that a woman was so caught up in cooking her pancakes that she lost track of time and had to rush to church, flipping the pancakes as she ran, to keep them fresh. Who knows?!
Here in Britain, we certainly love pancakes and this year, the day is a welcome break in the rather tedious sameness of lockdown – and it is a day when just about the whole family can eat the same thing. We all love pancakes? Right?
Certainly you can customise them with different toppings – from the standard sugar and lemon to the more exotic banana and nuts, syrup or honey, or berries and ice cream. The list is endless!
Here’s a super easy recipe for a basic pancake mix:
MAKES 6 PANCAKES
Knob of butter
Put 100g of plain flour into a bowl, make a well in the middle of the flour heap and crack two eggs into it.
Start whisking from the inside out and slowly add 300ml of milk to the mixture a little bit at a time. Whisk until there are no lumps.
Heat a drizzle of oil or a small knob of butter in a frying pan on medium heat and wait until the pan gets hot and fully greased.
Pour in enough pancake mix to coat the base of the frying pan and cook for 1 minute on each side until golden. You might need to use a spatula to loosen round the edge of your pancake until you attempt a flip.
Once cooked, transfer the pancake to a hot plate and top with your favourite toppings.
Here are some of the favourite toppings of well known foodies in Norfolk and Suffolk:
Simon Thompson of Giddens and Thompson, Bungay:
‘I love the simplicity of fresh lemon juice and sugar. And definitely on thin pancakes, not American style! Then rolled up and eaten in abundance, until my tummy aches with fullness.’
Sarah Daniels, chair, Proudly Norfolk:
‘Pancakes – I like thick homemade American style ones, all fluffy and scrumptious with maple syrup. And if I was going for a favourite Norfolk version, I’d go savoury with Staithe Smokehouse smoked salmon, and Nortons’ cheese with some cheeky chives from the garden!’
Rebecca Mayhew of Old Hall Farm, Woodton, near Norwich:
‘We adore pancakes here – our buttermilk makes amazing fluffy American style pancakes if you fancy something different. My favourite pancake topping is our yoghurt (either Skyr or our Greek style), with some local jam. No extra sugar needed – it’s a perfect post milking breakfast!’
Charlie Hodson, of Hodson Cheese Room and Deli, Aylsham:
‘My guilty pleasure is a Gnaw peanut butter chocolate bar, melted, and poured over a pancake – and then topped with vanilla ice cream from Dann’s Ice Cream at North Tuddenham, near Dereham. Simple!’
Phil and Fran Hartshorne of Staithe Smokehouse, Brancaster Staithe:
‘For a sweet pancake we enjoy cherry compote, amaretto ice cream and crushed hazelnuts. Phil likes to add chocolate orange spread to his, too. We enjoy this because it was the first pancake topping that Fran made for us and is now a bit of a tradition.’