The custom of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday dates back many centuries and was originally part of the preparations for the Lenten fast. The last three days before Lent, known as Shrovetide, were the last chance people had to enjoy rich and tasty foods especially eggs and butter, so they took the opportunity to empty their larders before Lent began. Pancakes then were made with the eggs they needed to use up.
Although you can purchase pancake mixes it’s really REALLY easy to make your own from a very simple mix of eggs, flour and milk and so much more fun too. And don’t forget to toss your pancakes, kids love the fun – I used to hope against hope that one year one would get stuck to the ceiling (it never happened!) And waiting pets are always quick to snaffle up any casualties that don’t quite make it back to the pan!
● 100 g (4 oz) plain flour
● Pinch of salt
● 2 eggs, lightly beaten
● 300 ml (½ pint) milk
● Oil for frying
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl then, using a wooden spoon make a hollow in the centre and pour the eggs into it. Gradually pour half the milk into the flour, working it in as you go.
Beat the mixture with a balloon whisk until it is free of lumps. Leave to stand for a few minutes, then add the remaining milk, beating continuously. The batter should have the same consistence as single cream.
Heat an 18 cm (7”) shallow frying pan (you can purchase special pancake pans – mine came from Ikea, was very cheap and does the job perfectly). When the pan is hot add ½ tablespoon of oil and swirl it round to coat the inside. Remove from heat and wipe oil away with some kitchen towel being careful not to burn your fingers. This seasons the pan. Now add another ½ tablespoon of oil and heat.
When the oil is very hot pour in enough of your batter to form a thin layer (about 2 tablespoons) and tip the pan to spread it all over the base. It will take a minute or little less for the base of the pancake to become golden (you will see bubbles appearing on the top of the pancake and you can lift the edge with a palette knife or spatula to check).
When it’s golden then flip the pancake over with the palette knife or seize the moment to showcase your pancake-tossing skills by holding the pan away from you and giving it a quick flick to turn the pancake over (clearly the more vigorous your flick, the higher the pancake will fly!).
Cook the other side in the same way – it will take very little time. Then slide your pancake out of the pan onto a warm plate. You have a choice of fillings. Rosie’s preference is for Nutella and strawberries. As a child I used to enjoy golden syrup but now I prefer the traditional sugar and lemon juice. Yum!