The most indulgent day of the year is here again! The one date in the calendar when you can absolutely eat the same dish for breakfast, lunch and dinner – without guilt or shame, a day devoted entirely to eating pancakes!
Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, is the traditional feast day before the first day of Lent (Ash Wednesday). In the Christian faith, Lent is the 40 days before Easter. The exact date changes every year, determined by Easter, which can fall any time between 22nd March – 27th April. It’s considered a period of reflection and abstinence where many choose to give up a particular indulgence for those 40 days. Traditionally, richer foods were given up for Lent, so it became a common practice to make pancakes the day before Lent started to use up all the leftover eggs, milk and sugar. Making pancakes was the perfect way of using up these ingredients!
Traditionally Lent involved prayers and fasting, to mark the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert after being baptised. The term ‘shrove’ comes from the old Middle English term ‘shriven’ (which is to be absolved of your sins). Today, fasting is less common, though some people still choose to give up one thing in particular, like chocolate, during this time. Fasting aside, Lent is also supposed to be a festivity-free period. That’s why many countries seize the opportunity to hold Mardi Gras carnivals before it starts. ‘Mardi Gras’ literally means ‘Fat Tuesday’ in French, another reference to the idea of using up food before Lent begins. It is believed that the Christian Pancake Day was in fact borrowed from an old pagan festival to welcome the arrival of spring. Circular, hot pancakes were seen to symbolise the sun, providing those who ate them with the sun’s power and strength.
Pancakes have featured in historical cookery books from as far back as 1439; the tradition of flipping them is thought to have begun around the 1600s. Given that they’re so tasty, it’s no surprise that the tradition has stuck around! The French are masters of the thin, versatile crepe, Americans excel at thick, fluffy pancakes, whilst the British aren’t too fussy and will take whatever is going! Instead of pancakes, the Spanish eat omelettes, now they really are missing out!
Pancake Day is a great bonding day for all the family, with everyone cooking up a storm in the kitchen, enjoying flipping them, choosing the toppings and of course – eating them! So, it’s time to get your eggs, milk, flour and butter ready, grease up the pan, and don your apron. There is no need to flip out though, here are some top tips for making the best pancakes….
- Leave the batter to sit and chill for at least 30 minutes. This will give the gluten time to relax and the starch grains to swell, giving a lighter pancake. Make sure to give the batter a quick whisk before you start cooking them.
- Always sift the flour to add more air to the batter.
- Make sure your pan is hot! Test the heat of the pan before you add your first pancake. Drop a little splash of water in the pan and if it sizzles, you’re good to go!
- Use butter instead of oil to cook the pancakes, butter has more flavour.
- Once you add the batter, make sure you tip the pan around so that the batter fills the base of the pan.
- Serve the pancakes straight away. If you do need to keep them warm, place the pancakes on a baking tray with a little baking paper between each pancake.
The next stage is definitely the most fun, with the biggest decision being what topping to add! The five most popular include lemon and sugar, maple syrup or honey, chocolate or Nutella spread, ice cream and fruit (blueberries and bananas work brilliantly).
This Pancake Day at BE Offices we will be offering all our clients a delicious pancake breakfast, what batter way is there to start the working day! If you are thinking of ways to motivate your team or simply have some workplace fun, why not think about serving up some pancakes! Fifteen minutes or so spent decorating and eating pancakes can bring employees from different departments together, encourage discussion and generally create a good feeling in the work environment! Too often people eat at their desk and lose the chance for a natter, so eating pancakes together can provide a great opportunity to build a team and get people talking.
We will certainly be keeping all our clients sweet this Pancake Day, and will be contributing to the 117,000,000 pancakes consumed and 52,000,000 eggs that are used in Britain on this day, that’s 42% more than an average day!
Posted by Michelle Winton, Community & Events Manager