Shrovetide & Pancakes!

Pancakes will be available at our Cherubs apostolate on Tuesday if you’d fancy your hand at flipping them! Pop along to the Mad Hatter Inn, Kemptown from 6pm and enjoy some pancake fun… which won’t be as raucous as that had at Westminster School, London (see below)!

The Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday are known as “Shrovetide,” from an old English word “shrive,” meaning “to confess,” a name gotten from the tradition of going to Confession in the days before Lent started. Shrovetide is traditionally the time for “spring cleaning,” and just as we clean our houses in these days in preparation for Lent, we also “clean our souls” through confession so we can enter the penitential season fresh.

Shrovetide is the last two days of “Carnival,” an unofficial period that began after the Epiphany and which takes its name from the Latin carnelevare, referring to the “taking away of flesh” (meat) during Lent which begins on Ash Wednesday, the day following Shrove Tuesday. Catholics want to eat while they can and get the frivolity out of their systems in preparation for the somber Lenten spirit to come.

The Tuesday of Shrovetide is a particularly big party day known as “Mardi Gras” (French for “Fat Tuesday”) — or “Pancake Tuesday” because fats, eggs, and butter in the house had to be used up before Lent began, and making pancakes or waffles was a good way to do it. In many places, especially in England, pancake races became popular and remain popular today. In these races, women must run while flipping a pancake so many times, and whoever crosses the finish line first wins. The largest pancake race in England is in Olney, in Buckinghamshire. There, the women must wear a dress, apron, and bonnet, and flip the pancake three times — while ensuring it is intact after they cross the finish line, of course. The story told to explain the origins of this race is that in 1445, a homemaker heard the shriving bell (summoning to Confession) as she was busy working in her kitchen. Not wanting to be late, she rushed about and ran off with her skillet still in hand.

At Westminster School in London, the “Pancake Greaze” is held, an event during which the school’s Chef tosses a very large pancake over a bar that’s set to about 15 feet high. The boys make a mad scramble for it, and whoever emerges with the largest piece is the winner.

Below is a recipe for Shrove Tuesday Pancakes:

Shrove Tuesday Pancakes

4 large eggs
1 cup milk (do not use low-fat or nonfat)
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla, extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all purpose flour
Additional melted butter

Powdered sugar
Fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend first 6 ingredients in blender. Gradually add flour; blend until smooth. Let stand 15 minutes.

Heat medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brush with butter. Add 2 generous tablespoons batter, tilting pan to coat bottom. Cook until golden on bottom, about 45 seconds. Turn pancake over. Cook until bottom is speckled with brown, about 30 seconds. Turn out onto paper towel. Cover with another paper towel. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing skillet with butter as needed.

Butter ovenproof dish. Sift powdered sugar over speckled side of each pancake, then sprinkle lightly with lemon juice; fold pancakes into quarters. Overlap pancakes in prepared dish. Cover; bake until heated through, about 10 minutes. Serve with more powdered sugar and lemon juice.

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