Pancake Day, also called Shrove Tuesday, is a traditional feast day before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Lent is a 40-day period before Easter when Christians traditionally fast. Shrove Tuesday was historically the last opportunity to use up eggs and fats before fasting for Lent, and pancakes became the perfect way to use these ingredients. Pancake Day is on a different date every year, with Tuesday 13th February being the date for 2024!
How is it Celebrated?
Originally, people would confess to any sins they had committed, use up the last of their perishable foods, and then fast for 40 days until Easter. Nowadays, people tend to give up one thing for Lent (usually chocolate or sweet treats), but making and eating pancakes remains a cherished tradition. Some places in the UK also hold pancake races, where large numbers of people, often in fancy dress, race down streets while flipping pancakes. The pancake race is said to have originated in 1445 when a housewife from Olney, Buckinghamshire, was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time until she heard the church bells ringing for the Shrove Tuesday service. She raced out of the house to church while still carrying her frying pan and pancake, tossing it to prevent it from burning.
Make Your Own Pancakes
If you want to join in the fun, follow this simple recipe to make your own pancakes this Pancake Day.
100g plain flour
2 large eggs
1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil, plus a little extra for frying
Put 100g plain flour, 2 large eggs, 300ml milk, 1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil, and a pinch of salt into a bowl or large jug, then whisk to a smooth batter.
Start cooking straight away or set aside for 30 mins to rest if you have time.
Set a medium frying pan over medium heat with a bit of oil in it.
When hot, cook your pancakes for 1 min on each side until golden. You can keep them warm in a low oven as you go.
Serve with your favourite topping. Once cold, you can layer the pancakes between baking parchment, then wrap in cling film and freeze for up to 2 months.
Pancakes can have all sorts of toppings, including savoury ones! A traditional British topping is lemon juice and sugar, but of course, this isn’t to everyone's taste. Other common toppings are Nutella, golden syrup, or dessert sauces such as chocolate, toffee, or strawberry. A more American-style topping is bacon and maple syrup, but this can also be an acquired taste. For a healthier option (or as healthy as pancakes can be), fruit is a good choice! Pancakes are very versatile and can taste great with many different toppings, so why not try out a few different ones and see what floats your pancake boat.