It is Shrove Tuesday today and as I'm sure you all know that means that it is pancake day. Pancakes are a type of flatbread traditionally made from a sweet batter. English pancakes are made from three key ingredients which are flour, eggs and milk. The batter is quite runny and forms a thin layer on the bottom of the frying pan. Pancakes are normally eaten as a sweet dessert and the traditional topping is a sprinkling of sugar and some lemon juice. This is my favourite topping for pancakes but other sweet fillings can include chocolate spread, maple syryp or fruit. Pancakes can also be wrapped around savoury fillings and eaten as a main course.
There are many different variations to pancakes in the different regions of the world. Scottish and Irish pancakes are similar to American pancakes and often known as drop scones or griddle cakes. French crepes are very thin pancakes and are usually served with a large amount of sweet or savoury fillings ranging from fruit to seafood. In the Netherlands pancake restaurants are popular and serve many varieties of sweet, savoury and stuffed pancakes. Pancakes in South Africa are similar to English pancakes and are traditionally prepared on gas stoves. They are called pannekoek and are commonly served with cinnamon flavoured sugar. The sugar may be left to dissolve onto the pancake and if eaten straight away it will have a crispy texture.
It is traditional to toss pancakes in the air using just the frying pan. This is a tricky manoevure that I have yet to master.
A popular event on Shrove Tuesday is a pancake race. Each participant carries a pancake in a frying pan and as they run they must toss and catch their pancakes in the frying pan. This event is said to have originated in the town of Olney in England in 1444. A housewife was busy cooking pancakes to eat before the Lenten fast when she heard the church bells ringing to call call everyone to the Shriving service. Eager to get to the church she ran from her house, still wearing her apron and carrying her frying pan complete with pancake. Since 1950, the people of Olney and those of Liberal, Kansas in the USA have competed in an international pancake race. The two towns competitors race along a previously agreed course. The times of the two towns competitors are then compared to determine the winner. After the 2007 race Liberal was leading with 32 wins compared to Olneys 25.
I shall be enjoying pancakes tonight and I hope that you all enjoy some as well. Don't forget to have a go at tossing them in the pan and try not to get them stuck to the ceiling.