Shrove Tuesday / Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) / Fastnacht / Carnavale (carne levare meaning take away meat) is the last day before Lent. Pancakes were traditionally the food of choice to use up rich ingredients such as eggs, milk and sugar before the start of Lent and fasting.
This year Shrove Tuesday is on 12th February, and today I noticed in the supermarket they had a huge stand by the checkout tills full of packet pancake mix … boxes of the stuff. I think it is a shame to miss out on the fun of preparing them from scratch, and what better way to start to teach children how to cook.
Pancakes are quick and easy to make at any time of the year and everyone would normally have the ingredients for pancakes in their cupboards, so here is a quick reminder of the quantities and a few tips to avoid lumps! This is a recipe for crepe like pancakes not the thicker US version. Makes 12-14 (if you want the whole family to have a go at flipping the pancakes you may want to increase the quantities, to allow for any mishaps).
Ingredients for the pancake mixture
110g plain flour sifted
Pinch of salt
200ml whole milk mixed with 75 ml water
1. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, make a well in the centre of the flour and break the eggs into it. Then begin whisking the eggs incorporating the flour around the edge of the bowl. Get this mixture as smooth as possible.
2. Add a small amount of the milk and water mixture to the bowl and whisk to form a smooth paste, scraping round the edges of the bowl to get all the flour. Then, bit by bit, add the rest of the milk and water making sure the mixture is smooth before each new addition of milk and water. The mixture will be the consistency of thin cream.
3. Melt the 50g butter in a pan. Add 2 tbsp of it to the batter and whisk it in, then pour the rest into a bowl and use it to grease the frying pan with a piece of kitchen paper and smear it around the pan before making each pancake.
4. Get the pan really hot, then turn the heat down to medium and do a test pancake. Use a ladle and gauge the right amount for your size of pan, swirl it round to get an even round pancake. It should only take half a minute to cook, you can lift the edge with a palette knife to see when golden. Flip the pancake over and cook for a few seconds on the other side. Simply slide out of the pan onto a plate and serve sprinkled with sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
The list of toppings is endless, fruit, chocolate, ice cream, maple syrup, golden syrup etc. These pancakes can also have savoury toppings such as ham and cheese or sautéed mushrooms in a creamy sauce, whatever takes your fancy!
By Alison Korter-Lacki, February 2013