Pancakes are great any day of the week; however, there is no better day to make the delicious, flat, round, fluffy cakes for you and yours than this Tuesday, Feb. 21. Better known in most English-speaking countries like the U.K., Ireland, Australia and Canada as Pancake Day.
Pancakes come in all shapes and sizes and there are several recipes out there to help home chefs find their favourites. Fluffy, thin, dense, chocolate chip, protein, gluten-free — the possibilities are endless when it comes to how you make and then choose to top pancakes.
But why an entire day dedicated to celebrating pancakes? Let’s dig in.
Pancake Day’s origins are rooted in religion, being a key date in the Christian calendar.
“Also known as Shrove Tuesday, it is a major event in the lead-up to Easter. It traditionally marks the eve of Lent — a period when some followers of Christianity give up culinary treats for several weeks,” said an article on National World’s website. The word shrove is derived from the word shrive, which meant a person had gone to confession and had their sins absolved.
Those who participate in Lent today often give up one luxury food item like candy or they abstain from a bad habit like watching too much TV. Lent used to involve clearing your cabinet out of items such as butter, sugar and eggs.
“Pope Gregory I is believed to have started this custom in around 600AD. Given sweet things and fats were not allowed during Lent, people had to find a way to use them up and pancakes were an ideal way to do so,” said the article.
The national day of celebration is always 47 days prior to Easter Sunday. Pancake Day celebrations can fall on any Tuesday between Feb. 3 and Mar. 9.
The U.K. celebrates Pancake Day with a second tradition alongside the first. More physical than cooking and flipping. It’s pancake racing.
People race one another while holding a pan with a pancake in it. As they run they have to throw the pancake in the air and catch it in the pan multiple times.
“In some pancake races people dress up in fancy dress costumes,” said an article on learnenglishteens.org. “The most famous pancake race takes place in a town called Olney, in the middle of England. People say that Olney has been celebrating pancake races since 1445.”
Here is a recipe from illuna.com showing how to make pancakes from scratch.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
– In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
– Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour in the milk, egg, melted butter and vanilla. Mix until combined.
– Lightly oil a griddle or frying pan and heat to medium-high.
– Pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the griddle for each pancake. Cook until bubbly and lightly browned, about three minutes. Flip and cook for two minutes more until browned on the second side.
– Serve hot with your favourite toppings.