Last week we got into Mardi Gras, and the Carnival traditions in Louisiana. This time, we’re going across the pond, turn right at Greenland, just in time for Shrove Tuesday, and the United Kingdom’s madness for pancakes.
To start off, what is a shrove? No, it is not the collective noun for a group of nuns (that is a murmur), but shrove is the past tense of the word shrive, which is the action of a priest at a confession, to hear, assign penance, and and grant absolution. In the Middle Ages, especially in Northern Europe and England, it became the custom to confess one's sins on the day before Lent began in order to enter the penitential season in the right spirit.
As with many religious observances, Shrove Tuesday did not start out as a party, and was originally a solemn day. But over the centuries, in anticipation of the Lenten fast that would begin the next day, it took on a festive nature. Eggs and fat were once forbidden during the 40-day Lenten fast, so on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent, delicacies would be produced and consumed to clear the larders. There’s a reason why it was called Fat Tuesday, after all. Cooks and bakers in the Isles would make cakes, and home cooks without ovens would make pancakes to use up their stores of those ingredients.
One of the festivities that arose in this last day of partying before penitence is the pancake race. According to tradition, in 1445 a woman of Olney heard the shriving bell while she was making pancakes. She could not very well leave the pancakes to burn, but she also needed to get to confession, so she ran to the church in her apron, still clutching her frying pan. Now there are Shrove Tuesday pancake races all over the UK.
¾ cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar (or 1/2 teaspoon honey or molasses)
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Beat egg until fluffy.
Add milk, melted margarine, and sugar.
Sift the dry ingredients together, and add to the wet ingredients, mixing well. Let rest 10-15 minutes.
Heat a heavy griddle or fry pan. The pan is hot enough when a drop of water breaks into several smaller balls which 'dance' around the pan. Lightly grease the pan with a scant amount of butter or oil.
Pour a small amount of batter (approx ¼ cup) into the pan and tip the pan to spread out the batter or spread it with spoon.
When bubbles appear on surface and begin to break, turn over and cook the other side.
Hey, want to use some of those egg whites from last week’s king cake?
Pancakes Made with Egg Whites Recipe
Makes about 8 servings (1 pancake is 1/4 cup of batter)
3 egg whites
1 cup milk
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
¾ cup flour
1 tbsp baking powder
Beat egg whites until fluffy (not even going for soft peaks here).
Add milk, sugar, and vanilla.
Sift together flour and baking powder.
Add dry ingredients and mix well. Let rest 10-15 minutes.
Heat a heavy griddle or fry pan, adding a little butter or oil.
Pour ¼ cup of batter for each pancake
When bubbles appear on surface and begin to break, you are ready to flip the pancake to cook the other side.
Brody, Ellen. "Pancakes Recipe - Food.com." Pancakes Recipe - Food.com. Accessed January 18, 2016. http://www.food.com/recipe/pancakes-
Castelow, Ellen. "Pancake Day." The History of Pancake Day. Accessed January 30, 2016. http://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/
mhurleync. "Pancakes Made with Egg Whites Recipe." Calories in Pancakes Made with Egg Whites. Accessed January 30, 2016. http://www.caloriecount.com/pancakes-
"Appendix:Glossary of Collective Nouns by Subject." - Wiktionary. Accessed January 31, 2016. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/
Appendix: Glossary_of_collective_nouns_by_subject .
"Why Is Fat Tuesday Also Known as Shrove Tuesday?" About.com Religion & Spirituality. Accessed January 31, 2016. http://catholicism.about.com/od/