Today is Shrove Tuesday, but where did the name come from and has it always been linked to pancakes? Brian Stormont found out.
Most people will be getting their frying pans or griddles out to cook some pancakes as they celebrate Shrove Tuesday.
But have you ever asked yourself why Shrove Tuesday and why pancakes?
It won’t surprise you to learn that, as with many of our traditions, the origins of the day for making the tasty treats are religious.
Coming into being in Anglo-Saxon times, Lent, which is the 40 days leading up to Easter, is traditionally a time when people fasted.
On Shrove Tuesday, Christians would visit confession where they were “shriven”, which meant being absolved of their sins.
A bell would ring to call people to confession and this was known as the “pancake bell”.
One belief is that in the 15th Century, a woman lost track of time when getting ready to go to confession while cooking pancakes.
When the church bells rang to call everyone to confession, she ran out of the house with the pan and the pancakes in her hand.
However, it is also thought that pancakes were traditionally eaten on the last day before lent to use up rich ingredients such as eggs and milk.
And it is believed that in Pagan times, round pancakes were eaten to symbolise the sun and celebrate the imminent arrival of spring.
Depending on which story is true, from then on, the day before the beginning of Lent, which is Ash Wednesday, became known as Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday.
The date of Shrove Tuesday changes every year as it depends when Easter falls as Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, which lasts for 40 days until Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday.
In fact, there are 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday, but as Lent was not traditionally followed on Sundays, then excluding them takes it down to 40 days.
However, eating pancakes is an essential part of Shrove Tuesday so why not try and make your own with this easy recipe below.
Maldon Salt blueberry pancakes
- 135g plain flour
- 1tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp Maldon Salt
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 130ml milk
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tbsp melted butter for cooking
- To serve – blueberries and maple syrup
- Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and caster sugar into a large bowl. In a separate bowl or jug, lightly whisk together the milk and egg, then whisk in the melted butter.
- Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and, using a fork, beat until you have a smooth batter. Any lumps will soon disappear with a little mixing. Let the batter stand for a few minutes.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add a knob of butter. When it’s melted, add a ladle of batter (or two if your frying pan is big enough to cook two pancakes at the same time). It will seem very thick but this is how it should be. Wait until the top of the pancake begins to bubble, then turn it over and cook until both sides are golden brown and the pancake has risen to about 1cm/½ inch thick.
- Repeat until all the batter is used up. You can keep the pancakes warm in a low oven, but they taste best fresh out the pan.
- Serve with maple syrup, blueberries and a pinch of Maldon Salt.
Recipe courtesy of Maldon Salt