In the United Kingdom (UK), Pancake Day is synonymous with Shrove Tuesday, a.k.a. Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras. It is viewed as the last opportunity to use up eggs and fats before the upcoming Lent season. What better way to use up these ingredients than with Pancakes?
Pancake races were an important part of the Shrove Tuesday celebrations. In these races, a large number of women in fancy dresses would race down the streets carrying a frying pan with a cooked pancake and tossing it as they ran. In addition, the children would have competitions to see who could eat the most pancakes.
The Master Taste Tester, who grew up in England, watched his mother make the pancakes on Pancake Day. An integral part of making the pancakes was tossing them into the air. However, his mother didn’t want to toss them. It seemed to the Master Taste Tester that they weren’t real pancakes if they weren’t tossed. He felt sure that everyone else’s mother would toss the pancakes. Therefore, the Master Taste Tester decided to take things into his own hands. At an early age (around 7 or 8) when his mother was out of the kitchen, he would take the pancake that was being cooked in the cast iron pan, and practice tossing it high into the air! Fortunately, it neither stuck on the ceiling nor landed on the floor. As the video below shows, the Master Taste Tester hasn’t lost the knack of tossing pancakes!
The Pancake Day pancakes are really more like what we would think of as crepes in the US. I used the following ingredients for the pancakes: Eggs, milk, salt, oil, flour and butter. When the pancakes were ready, I finished them off with a sprinkling of superfine sugar (caster sugar), and juice from an orange.
Making the Pancake Batter:
I started by beating the eggs and milk in a medium bowl until they were well combined. Then, I added the salt and the oil, and continued beating the mixture until everything was incorporated. Finally, I added the flour, and beat the mixture until it was smooth. I let the batter sit for several hours before turning it over to the Master Taste Tester to make and toss the pancakes.
Cooking the Pancake Day Pancakes:
The Master Taste Tester started by heating a small amount of butter in an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Then, he added about 1/4 cup of the batter to the pan, and swirled it to ensure that it evenly covered the bottom of the pan.
After several minutes, the top of the pancake was set. He gave the pan a good shake to make sure that the pancake was loosened from the bottom of the pan. Then, he positioned the pancake and gave it a toss into the air. It landed perfectly on the uncooked side! After several more minutes, tossed the pancake again to ensure that both sides were perfectly cooked. Then, he turned the pancake out onto a plate, and repeated the process with the remaining batter.
Serving the Pancake Day Pancakes:
A lot of the recipes for Pancake Day pancakes call for lemon juice being squeeze onto the finished pancakes. However, as the Master Taste Tester reminded me, lemon juice tends to be too tart for children. He grew up with a sprinkling of sugar and fresh orange juice being squeezed onto the pancake, which is what we did. The pancakes can either be folded in half or rolled. Before being folded or rolled, however, the pancakes are sprinkled with sugar and finished with a good squeeze of fresh orange juice.
The Pancake Day pancakes are best served warm. They are a delightful treat to end the Mardi Gras season. Yum!
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Pancake Day Pancakes
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cup milk (300 ml)
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour(100 grams)
- 4 teaspoons unsalted butter
- Superfine sugar for sprinkling on pancakes
- Orange for squeezing juice on pancakes
- Beat eggs and milk until fully combined. Add vegetable oil and salt; beat until well incorporated.
- Add flour; beat until smooth.
- Heat 1/2 teaspoon butter in an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1/4 cup of batter. Swirl pan to completely coat bottom. Cook until batter is set, about 2 minutes. Shake pan to loosen pancakes.
- If you're adventuresome, toss the pancake into the air; otherwise, using a silicon spatula, turn the pancake. Cook several more minutes.
- Sprinkle warm pancakes with superfine sugar, and squeezed fresh orange juice.
- Either fold pancakes in half, or roll up.
- Yield: 8 pancakes; 4 servings.