Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pancake Tuesday

cookie cutter shape, jacket and jazz hands optional

Happy Pancake Day!!

Spring is in the air, well not really, it is still cold and snowy, but the first sign of spring is upon us.  It is pancake Tuesday also called Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras.  Shrove Tuesday is the last day before Lent begins, which is a holy season for Christians that starts on Ash Wednesday and ends around Easter.  In historical times, Lent was a time for fasting and prayer and so to prepare for the fast of lent, households would take the day before to use up the indulgent ingredients they had in their pantries. 

Pancakes are associated with Shrove Tuesday as forbidden "indulgent" food items included butter, milk, eggs, dairy and sugar, which are common ingredients in pancakes.  I heard a story on the radio once that said that in ancient times, unrisen cakes similar to pancakes were eaten as treats and were forbidden during the fast of lent, so people made them up the day before with their left over ingredients to enjoy.

In 2006, American franchise IHOP began celebrating Shrove Tuesday as "National Pancake Day" as a fundraiser for various causes.

In Newfoundland, where I was born and raised, there is a special custom involving pancakes on pancake Tuesday.  Parents would put certain items (washed and wrapped in tinfoil) into the pancakes, which had different meanings for the kids opening them. 


a penny meant they would grow up to be poor
a quarter meant they would grow up to be rich
a ring meant they would get married
a button meant they would not marry (bachelor's button)
a nail meant they would become a carpenter (or marry one)
a string meant they would become a fisherman (or marry one)
a thimble meant they would become a tailor or seamstress

My wife recalled that as a child, they would try to feel the pancakes before taking them as to try to get the quarter pancake and her parents eventually just put money in all of the pancakes, but it took away the fun and mystery of the different items.

 As parents ourselves, we will continue the item in the pancake tradition in the future, but since our son is under two we will stick to plain pancakes.  Here is a recipe for homemade pancakes.  Happy Pancake Day!

Old fashioned pancakes


1 C flour                                  1 C milk

1 tbsp sugar                           1 egg

1tsp baking powder             2 Tbsp vegetable oil               

1/2 tsp baking soda             1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt                            1/2 C chocolate chips (optional)


Preheat lightly oiled pan over medium heat

In a bowl, mix dry ingredients and make a well in the centre of the ingredients.

In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients.

Add wet ingredients into the well of dry ingredients and whish until smooth.

Pour batter into hot pan, using about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake. Cook pancake until slightly browned on both sides (pancake should be ready to flip when bubbles start to form on the surface of the uncooked side).