Shrove Tuesday is Pancake Day, it falls the day before Ash Wednesday and can be between the beginning of February and mid March depending on when Easter falls.
Pancake Day’s proper name is Shrove Tuesday and this is the night before the beginning of Lent. Traditionally an evening when families used up flour and eggs to mark the beginning of the fasting period before Easter. This year Shrove Tuesday falls on 21 February.
Pancakes are a flat, thin batter cake cooked in a hot frying pan – hence the name ‘pan-cake’. They are cooked on one side then flipped (or tossed if you’re feeling brave) to cook the other side. They can be sweet or savoury and can be eaten at any time of day and not just on Shrove Tuesday.
I associate Pancake Day with longer days, more sunshine and spring flowers breaking through. My childhood memories are of spending two weeks persuading my Mum to cook pancakes for Pancake Day, helping her mix up the batter and seeing if I could eat the pancakes faster than she could make them. In the winter months pancakes are a standard Sunday breakfast in our house – what do you like on yours? Lemon and sugar? Maple syrup? Freshly squeezed orange juice? Nutella? Grand Marnier? Ham and cheese? My vote is for lemon and sugar.
Pancake races take place all over Britain, this is one those classic British traditions like the Pantomime, Boxing Day Dips and Morris Men, slightly mad but lots of fun (I know Morris Men aren’t mad and there are amazing traditions to their dances, I love them so please no letters!).
The pancake race originates in a place called Olney in Buckinghamshire; the story goes that a housewife was cooking when she heard the shriven bell at church calling for the start of the service. Not wanting to be late she dashed out of the house still holding her frying pan. Olney has held a Pancake Day race since 1445. In other parts of Britain men dress up in aprons and bonnets and run whilst tossing a pancake in a frying pan. They have to toss the pancake at least once at the beginning and end of the race and the first across the line wins.
for inspiration please try some of my pancake recipes: