When we were younger we went off sweets; then as we got older we quit the cinema and finally we all would decide to go off drink. For a man like me this latter was never a serious option, the main feature being would I get over the first weekend. But God is good and he would overlook our sneaking the odd “penny chew” or the illicit half-un. After all, we are human and we all have our little foibles.
So, back to Shrove Tuesday. Shrove, derived from the old English word “shrive," refers to the confession of sins which was the sort of formal way of beginning Lent. I suppose the attitude was that there was no sense in carrying out a whole lot of penances on top of a soul full of sin, so a good scraping of the pot was required to put the house in order. Since eggs, flour, fat butter and milk were forbidden during the “Black Fast” of Lent (nothing white could be eaten) these were used up in one last celebration before the fast began. More so in England than in Ireland, Shrove Tuesday became a festival or carnival. I have a sneaky feeling this is because we Irish knew how to have a party in Lent even without these ingredients!
Here is a recipe I found in my wife’s cook book. I must remind her where it is! Don’t skimp on the treacle; this is the last treat for six weeks!
Simple Pancake Recipe
- 4oz (100g) plain flour.
- Half a Pint (250ml) of milk.
- 1 Standard Egg. (Size 2)
- Pinch of Salt (half teaspoon)
Sugar, Lemon, Orange etc to add flavor.
Making the Pancake Batter
- Sieve the flour and salt into a mixing bowl.
Make a small hollow in the center of the mixture and drop in the egg (not the shell).
- Begin to mix while gradually adding about one quarter of the milk. Continue to mix well until bubbles become visible in the mixture.
- Gradually pour in the remaining milk while continuing to mix.
(if it's a bit too thick - then add a little water.)
- Pour batter into a jug for easier pouring into pan.
Making the Pancakes
- Heat the frying pan, and place a small piece of lard/fat in the Center. Allow this to melt and spread over the pan.
- Get the pan nice & hot and when the lard begins to smoke slightly, stir and pour in some of the batter - approx 30ml or 2 tablespoons, or enough to thinly cover the bottom of the pan. (tilt the pan to help the batter spread evenly)
- Cook until nicely golden brown on the bottom. (shouldn't take too long)
- And now the only tricky bit of the whole operation - toss / flip the pancake to within an inch of the kitchen ceiling and position the pan to perfectly catch the pancake on the way down - cooked side up, easy. (you could of course just turn it over with a big plastic spoon, but where's the fun in that? ;-)
- Cook the other side until nicely golden brown.
- Serve immediately with sugar, syrup, lemon or orange poured on top.