Pancake Week is grounded in ancient tradition. During the Middle Ages, it was common practice to prepare for the austerity of Lent by purging the pantry of luxurious foods such as eggs, butter and milk. These ingredients often became big batches of pancakes. To this day, many communities around the world feast on pancakes all the way through Sh-rove Tuesday–also known as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras–before the season of moderation begins on Ash Wednesday. In fact, another name for Fat Tuesday is Pancake Day.
- the small town of Olney, England has been holding its Pancake Race every year since 1445. According to the lore, it began when an Olney housewife was cooking the family’s traditional Sh-rove Tuesday pancakes. The church bell began to ring, summoning the townspeople to service, and the woman was so anxious to get there on time that she ran outside still holding her skillet–pancakes and all. This moment is reenacted in the town’s annual Pancake Race: contestants line up, skillets in hand, waiting for the “pancake bell” to ring. Then they toss pancakes in the air, catch them in their skillets and race 400 yards to the church. When they reach the finish line, they must toss their pancakes one more time. After the race, everyone attends church services and then enjoys a community pancake party.
- Determined not to leave all the fun to the Brits, the town of Liberal, Kansas has been competing with Olney in a good-natured transatlantic Pancake Race rivalry since 1950.
- In Russia, the pre-Lenten pancake feast is known as Maslenitsa, and is celebrated by eating thin buckwheat crepes called blini, accompanied by caviar, honey, jam, sour cream or butter. These little symbols of the sun–golden, round and warm–signify the end of winter and the coming of spring. Bonfires, fireworks and snow games round out the festivities.
These pancakes stay moist, fluffy, and filling.
Stir, don’t beat, griddle-cake batter, and you needn’t grease the griddle if the batter contains two or more tablespoons of shortening per cup of liquid. Turn griddle cakes when they’re peppered with tiny holes, no sooner, and turn them just once. Drops of cold water “dance” on a hot-enough griddle.
1 cup milk or buttermilk
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
3 tbsps. shortening, melted or butter
3 1/2 tsps. baking powder
3 tbsps. sugar
1 tbsp. molasses
3/4 tsp. salt
Sift flour, measure, add baking powder, salt and sugar. Combine egg, milk and melted shortening. Pour into flour mixture and mix just enough to moisten dry ingredients. Do not beat. Drop by spoonfuls on a hot griddle. Pancakes are a technique as well as a recipe. Yes I make them for dinner.
- Shrove Tuesday, or the Festival of Pancakes (annstephensromance.com)
- Crêpes, griddle cakes and drop scones through the ages (guardian.co.uk)
- Pancake Day! (crossingthetrent.wordpress.com)
- Buttermilk Pancakes (paneful.wordpress.com)
- Pancakes for Shrove Tuesday, anyone? (gadling.com)
- The Greatest Day of the Year: Pancake Day! (chris-bradley.org)
- Meet the world’s tallest stack of pancakes (newslite.tv)