CelebrationsIn the UK, Canada, Australia and Ireland, people choose to eat crepe-style pancakes for either breakfast, lunch or dinner. And certain villages, including Olney in Buckinghamshire, put on Pancake Day events, such as their famous pancake race.
In parts of the US and many Catholic countries, such as Brazil, Pancake Day is referred to as Mardi Gras, which translates to Fat Tuesday. These celebrations are much bigger than in other countries, and involve street processions, fancy dress and food stalls.
As for Scandinavia and many eastern European countries, they choose to eat their own special pastries. In Finland, the day is called Laskiainen, and they celebrate by sledging and eating a popular Finnish treat called laskiaispulla, which is a sweet bread filled with cream, jam and almond paste.
Origins of Pancake DayAs Lent was (and still is in many places) a period of fasting, prayer and good behaviour, people needed a way to get rid of the fatty foods in their homes before the season started. And what better way to get rid of all the sugar, eggs, milk and lard in your home than by making pancakes? Much plainer foods were traditionally eaten in the period of Lent, so Pancake Day offered an excuse to indulge in fatty foods before the heathy eating started.
In Slavic culture, before the Christian era began, the Slavs believed that the change of seasons from winter to spring was a battle between Jarilo (the God of vegetation and springtime) and the spirits of the cold and darkness. To help Jarilo, the Slavs made pancakes as they symbolised the sun. And when they ate the pancakes, they believed they received power and light from the sun.
Our Favourite Pancake Day Recipes
Traditional Pancakes (taken from BBC Good Food)Ingredients
- 100g plain flour
- 2 eggs
- 300ml semi-skimmed milk
- 1tbsp sunflower oil or vegetable oil, plus more for frying
- Pinch of salt
- Blending in the flour: Put the flour and a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Crack the eggs into the middle, then pour in about 50ml milk and 1 tbsp oil. Start whisking from the centre, gradually drawing the flour into the eggs, milk and oil. Once all the flour is incorporated, beat until you have a smooth, thick paste. Add a little more milk if it is too stiff to beat.
- Finishing the batter: Add a good splash of milk and whisk to loosen the thick batter. While still whisking, pour in a steady stream of the remaining milk. Continue pouring and whisking until you have a batter that is the consistency of slightly thick single cream. Traditionally, people would say to now leave the batter for 30 mins, to allow the starch in the flour to swell, but there’s no need.
- Getting the right thickness: Heat the pan over a moderate heat, then wipe it with oiled kitchen paper. Ladle some batter into the pan, tilting the pan to move the mixture around for a thin and even layer. Quickly pour any excess batter into a jug, return the pan to the heat, then leave to cook, undisturbed, for about 30 secs. Pour the excess batter from the jug back into the mixing bowl. If the pan is the right temperature, the pancake should turn golden underneath after about 30 secs and will be ready to turn.
- Flipping pancakes: Hold the pan handle, ease a fish slice under the pancake, then quickly lift and flip it over. Make sure the pancake is lying flat against base of the pan with no folds, then cook for another 30 secs before turning out onto a warm plate. Continue with the rest of the batter, serving them as you cook or stack onto a plate. You can freeze the pancakes for 1 month, wrapped in cling film or make them up to a day ahead.
American Blueberry Pancakes (taken from BBC Good Food)Ingredients
- 200g Self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 egg
- 300ml milk
- Knob of butter
- 150g pack blueberries
- Sunflower oil or a little butter for cooking
- Golden or maple syrup
- Mix together the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Beat the egg with the milk, make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and whisk in the milk to make a thick smooth batter. Beat in the melted butter, and gently stir in half the blueberries.
- Heat a teaspoon of oil or small knob of butter in a large non-stick frying pan. Drop a large tablespoonful of the batter per pancake into the pan to make pancakes about 7.5cm across. Make three or four pancakes at a time. Cook for about 3 minutes over a medium heat until small bubbles appear on the surface of each pancake, then turn and cook another 2-3 minutes until golden. Cover with kitchen paper to keep warm while you use up the rest of the batter. Serve with golden syrup and the rest of the blueberries.
And for something a bit crazier…
Chocolate Praline Pancake Cake (taken from BBC Good Food)
- 1x classic pancake recipe (see above)
- Sunflower oil, for greasing
- 100g caster sugar
- 100g blanched almonds
- ½ tsp sea salt flakes
- For the chocolate sauce
- 250g dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 50g unsalted butter
- 175ml whole milk
- 125ml double cream
- 2 tbsp brandy or dark rum
- 50g light muscovado sugar
- whipped cream, to serve
- Prepare pancakes following a classic recipe (see above).
- Lightly brush a baking sheet with sunflower oil. Tip the caster sugar into a medium-size saucepan, add 2-3 tbsp of water and set the pan over a low-medium heat to allow the sugar to slowly dissolve into the water. Bring to the boil and continue to cook until the syrup becomes amber-coloured caramel.
- Working quickly, tip the blanched almonds and salt into the pan and continue to cook for 30 secs-1 min until the caramel turns deep amber and the almonds are toasted. Tip the praline onto the oiled baking sheet and leave until completely cold and hardened. Break the praline into chunks and whizz in the food processor until coarsely chopped.
- To make the chocolate sauce, combine all the ingredients in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until smooth and silky. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
- Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Lay one pancake in the bottom of a 20cm springform tin and spread over 1 tbsp of chocolate sauce. Scatter with chopped praline and top with another pancake. Continue in this manner until you have used all 12 pancakes, topping the stack with a pancake.
- Cover the tin with foil and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for around 20 mins or until hot through. Gently warm the remaining chocolate sauce, cut the cake into wedges and serve scattered with the remaining praline chocolate sauce, and a bowl of lightly whipped cream alongside.