Pancake Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday – depending on your people’s history, when I was a wee boy, was a very important day in the family calendar. It was the day when you had to tell the rest of the family exactly what you were giving up for Lent, which started the next day, on Ash Wednesday.
The reason for making such a declaration was so that all your brothers and sisters could keep an eye on you and each other and make sure you weren’t breaking your fast!
In general it was Sweets that we gave up for Lent, but we were allowed to put any presents that were given to us into a big jar or box to keep for the 40 days duration of the fast. We were allowed to ‘break Lent’ for St Paddy’s day which usually left you with a sore tummy after gorging on your stash of goodies.
Pancake Tuesday was a serious day in the religious calendar. It marked the day before Jesus went into the desert to think about his future and fight temptation. So that’s what we had to do too!
Because many people went off meat, eggs, tea, milk and other things like this during Lent in the older days, Pancakes were made and ate for all meals during this day to use up any food products that needed using up.
Pancakes were probably the first thing I ever learned to make from my mum and I still enjoy making them, with sweet or savoury fillings, for any reason. As I said before, there is not much difference between Crepes & Pancakes, a thicker mix and a smaller pour is about it.
Some people make them with buttermilk and even Duck eggs, which are I must say Delicious!! If you don’t have any buttermilk add a dash of lemon juice to the milk. This gives a wee zing to the flavour and also helps create a lighter batter by reacting wih the baking powder.
1/2 tspn baking powder
200ml milk with a few splashes of lemon juice in it
2 tbls butter, melted
Put the flour into a mixing bowl with the baking powder and give it a quick whisk to lighten it and smooth any lumps (much handier than sieving).
Add the salt, sugar, milk and eggs
Whisk together until creamy making sure there are no lumps.
Pour in the melted butter and whisk into the mix. The butter lifts the taste of the pancake and eliminates the need to put anything on the pan when you are cooking them.
You will need a good heavy-based non-stick pan. Heat the pan to a good medium-hot for perfect pancakes.
I don’t let the pancake mix stand (though I do with the crepe mix) because I find that the mix tends to thin as it stands – that’s just me! Remember don’t put ant oil or butter on the pan. Pour 3 or 4 seperate scoops of the pancake batter onto your hot pan. You don’t have to shake or stir the pan, just let the pancakes find their own place.
Let them cook until the bubbles start to rise and just start to pop on top of the pancake. This means they are ready to turn gently.
Cook on the other side for about 1 minute and that’s them ready!! Get them off the pan and repeat the process until all the mix is gone. A tea-towel over the top of the pancakes will keep them warm. That is if you can keep little hands off them in the first place!
Enjoy with your favourite spreads. I love my pancakes with real Butter and home-made Jam.
Pancakes in the Old Days – The Irish Cultures & Customs Website
Here is a link to a website with a nice nostalgic piece of Irish Pancake history that I found this morning. It tells the Irish pancake story from a time back quite a few years more than my memories and from a family of Irish living in London in the 40’s & 50’s. Lovely.
Don’t forget to feed the fish at the bottom of this post!