I was all set to finish off my blog post on bread when I realised that it was Shrove Tuesday next week. This means pancakes. Damn! What to do? After a quick survey of my many followers (8), I have decided to shelve the bread blog for next week and ‘whip’ up a blog on pancakes instead, it’s ‘batter’ this way and a most ‘eggsellent’ idea in my opinion.
Bad jokes aside (no chance), what is Pancake Day all about? I’ve had pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, and any other day that I fancy them, for as long as I can remember, but I have no idea why, other than it’s something to do with Christianity. It’s moments like this that I actually love good old Google.
Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day as it is more commonly known as these days, is the traditional feast day before Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. Lent is a period of 40 days leading up to Easter, and was traditionally a time of fasting. Shrove Tuesday always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday and this is why the date varies from year to year, falling between February 3 and March 9 (link).
So why pancakes? Fat, sugar and eggs were one of the many foods forbidden over the 40 days of fasting (link). They were used to make the thin, batter-like cake that we know as a pancake or crêpe (French pancake). Like many of the old traditions, the real reason behind it has long been forgotten by most people but the feasting side of things still remains. It’s funny how the food side of traditions endure when all else is forgotten.
We all have our own family traditions too, built up around the feasting. Ours was very basic and consisted mostly of lemon juice and sugar. Yes, I grew up in the days when eating neat sugar was perfectly acceptable, as long as we cleaned our teeth afterwards. Despite their simplicity, we loved them. The lemon juice has long gone and these days, there are all sorts of things that can be added to or poured on. This year, it’s still citrus but rather than neat juice and sugar, I’ve combined the two to make a colourful sauce.
Over the years I have made many pancakes and somewhere along the line my Shrove Tuesday pancakes went from being the traditional thin ones, to the smaller, fatter, Scottish pancake, though what I’ll do this year, I have as yet not decided as it is my first Pancake Day as a vegan. I have been doing a little bit of experimenting. Last week I made thin pancakes with gram (chickpea/garbanzo) flour and they came out surprisingly well, though better suited to savoury fillings. I’ve also adjusted the Scottish pancake recipe omitting the eggs and using banana instead. They too have come out better than I was expecting.
I’m going to be making two tried and tested recipes from a very old book (see below), Scotch Pancakes and basic Sweet Pancakes with Blood Orange Sauce. Both recipes have been ‘veganised’. There’s also a good video for a delicious looking vegan pancake on the Marks and Spencer Facebook page to give you something a little different.