Why we celebrate Shrove Tuesday with pancakes
Shrove Tuesday, also sometimes known as Pancake Day, is the traditional feast day for Christians before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. The day always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday, so the date varies from year to year and this year falls on February 21.
Still observed today, Lent is traditionally a time of fasting and in times past, on Shrove Tuesday, a bell would be rung to call people to confession and absolve them from all their sins. This was otherwise known as being “shriven”. The day was also the last opportunity to use up any eggs and fats in the pantry before embarking on the fast, and pancakes were the perfect way of using up those ingredients.
Indeed, the pancake has a very long history and is featured in cookbooks as far back as 1439, with the ingredients often seen to symbolise four points of significance at this time of year: eggs – creation; flour – the staff of life; salt – wholesomeness; and milk – purity.
So, to make around eight pancakes all you need is 230g of all-purpose flour, two large eggs, 570ml of milk and a pinch of salt. Mix everything together, whisk well and leave to stand for 30 minutes. Then, heat a little oil in a non-stick frying pan, pour in enough batter to thinly cover the base of the pan and let it cook until the base has browned. Shake the pan to loosen the pancake and flip it over to brown the other side. Fill with whatever you fancy, roll it up and eat!
The beauty of pancakes is their versatility. For those whose penchant is for something sweet, they can be sprinkled with a mix of caster sugar and powdered cinnamon or filled with fruit or ice cream. Others with a savoury palate prefer their pancakes stuffed with cheese, savoury mince, bacon, chicken or veggies.
We asked chef Bernice Warner from Capsicum Culinary Studio’s Nelson Mandela Bay campus to share her favourite pancake recipe and here’s what she sent us:
Gourmet Pancakes with Brandied Berries
5ml vanilla essence
5ml lemon juice
Grated lemon zest of 1 lemon
60ml vegetable oil
375ml cake flour
10ml baking powder
Mix together the eggs, milk, water, lemon juice, lemon zest, oil and vanilla essence. Sieve all the dry ingredients and blend with the wet mixture in a mixing bowl with a whisk until a smooth, thick batter is achieved. Pour a ladle full of batter into a non-stick frying pan and cook until golden brown, then flip and cook until golden brown on the other side. Stack the pancakes and allow to cool.
Pastry cream filling
4 egg yolks
150g caster sugar
70g cake flour
500ml full cream milk
5ml vanilla essence
Cream the egg yolks, sugar and flour together till smooth. Heat the milk in a saucepan to a simmer and temper by adding a steady stream of the heated milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly until combined. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat until thick and the flour has been cooked out. Allow filling to cool before spreading onto the pancakes.
250g mixed frozen berries
45ml caster sugar
Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, reduce the heat and allow the mixture to thicken slightly. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Place a sheet of plastic wrap on a work surface large enough to form a rectangle. Place the cooled pancakes down, slightly overlapping on the sides to form a rectangle. Spread a thin layer of the pastry cream filling over the pancakes. Roll up the pancakes making use of the plastic wrap to form a cylinder. Once rolled, wrap it tightly with the plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Sprinkle caster sugar on top of the roulade and brûlée with a blow torch before cutting it into 2cm thick slices. Serve two slices per person with a heaped tablespoon of the brandied berries.