Yesterday was Shrove Tuesday, also known as World Pancake Day. For a long time I thought it was just another made up “food day” and wondered ‘why pancakes?’ why not world fish and chips day or world baked potato day? Who made the decision on pancakes? Then my dear friend Wiki told me the origins of Shrove Tuesday and I was enlightened.
Apparently, Shrove Tuesday came about as the last day of indulgence before Lent. Lent is the preparation period (around 40 days) for Christian believers before Easter. This is a time of repentance, prayer and fasting. This is where the word ‘Shrove’ came about – from the word shrive, which mean absolution from one’s sins.
The day before the start of Lent, folks in the past would normally use up all their rich food such as eggs, milk and sugar (in essence, food that gives pleasure) because during Lent, one is supposed to fast, eat plainly and basically not indulge. So I guess the easiest way to use up eggs, milk and sugar led to pancakes, which then led to the tradition of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesdays, which then became World Pancake Day.
A few years ago for Shrove Tuesday, I made Okonomiyaki – a Japanese pancake filled with cabbage and bacon. Mmmm, talk about indulgence. And talk about not adhering to pancake rules, but Japanese pancake is still pancake right? Anyway, this time I’ve inched a little bit closer and gone with crepes. Hey, to many people in various parts of the world including the UK, pancakes are essentially crepes. I think I’ll be okay. Don’t judge me.
Here’s a Nigella Lawson crepe recipe that has served me quite well.
Makes 6 20cm/8 inch crepes
30 grams (2 tbsp) unsalted butter melted (plus more for frying)
150 grams (1 cup) plain flour
325 ml (1 1/3 cup)milk
1 large egg
Melt the butter and let cool a little.
Put the flour into a bowl, whisk in the egg and milk and finally, just before making the crêpes, the melted butter.
Heat your fry pan (melt some butter in one first, and then wipe it all off, no need to re-oil again after) and ladle 2–3 tablespoons of batter into the pan then quickly hold it up and swirl so that the batter forms a quick, thin pancake covering the base of the pan. This will cook in a minute so flip it and cook for 30 seconds to a minute on the other side, then remove the pale crêpe.
Continue with the rest of the batter. Serve with caramelised banana and maple syrup or with other delicious combinations like cream and berries or lemon and sugar.