It just wouldn't be Shrove Tuesday without pancakes. Rhyley and I set to after school today. No fancy crepes in this house as they are not much liked. I do buttermilk ones on the griddle. They don't last too long being eaten by the vultures as soon as they are cooked. A dusting of icing sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice is all that's needed although I confess a liking for the American way with maple syrup.
Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the ritual of shriving that Christians used to undergo in the past. In shriving, a person confesses their sins and receives absolution for them.
Shrove Tuesday is a day of celebration as well as penitence, because it's the last day before Lent.
Lent is a time of abstinence, of giving things up. So Shrove Tuesday is the last chance to indulge yourself, and to use up the foods that aren't allowed in Lent.
During Lent there are many foods that some Christians - historically and today - would not eat: foods such as meat and fish, fats, eggs, and milky foods.
So that no food was wasted, families would have a feast on the shriving Tuesday, and eat up all the foods that wouldn't last the forty days of Lent without going off.
The need to eat up the fats gave rise to the French name Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). Pancakes became associated with Shrove Tuesday as they were a dish that could use up all the eggs, fats and milk in the house with just the addition of flour.
These can of course be made with sweet milk and baking powder but somehow they are not the same.
40z/100gms plain flour
1 teasp baking soda
1oz/25gms caster sugar
1/4 pint/150mls buttermilk
Put all the ingredients into a food processor and whizz until smooth.
Heat the griddle or frying pan over a moderate heat then rub the surface with white fat (not butter as it will burn)
Drop tablespoons of the batter onto the pan spaced well apart.
When they start to go bubbly flip them over with a spatula and cook the other side for a minute or two.
Keep them warm in a tea towel or between two warm plates while you cook the rest. They won't last long mind you.
Makes about twelve