The history and traditions of Pancake Day

Whether you opt for traditional lemon and sugar, or a more savoury topping, many of us will be celebrating Pancake Day, also known as Shrove Tuesday, this February. But have you ever stopped to wonder why we celebrate this tasty tradition? 

The origins of Shrove Tuesday

The Christian festival of Shrove Tuesday occurs the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. For Christians, Lent signifies a 40-day period of fasting that culminates in Easter. Traditionally, Shrove Tuesday has been seen as a day to eat up all the rich foods that can’t be consumed during Lent, such as butter, eggs, milk and sugar. And what better way to use them up than to cook up some pancakes! 

The word “shrove” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “shrive”, meaning to be given absolution from one’s sins. It comes from the practice of attending confession the day before Lent. People would be called to confession by the ringing of a bell known as the shriving bell, or the pancake bell. This custom still takes place today.

Take a look at our staff favourite pancake day products here.

The first pancake race

Another popular custom associated with Shrove Tuesday is pancake races. Competitors race against each other, flipping pancakes in a frying pan, competing to be the first to cross the finish line. The first pancake race is said to have taken place in the village of Olney in Buckinghamshire in 1445. According to legend, a woman was so busy making pancakes that when she heard the ringing of the shriving bell, she panicked and ran to the church with her frying pan still in her hand. The annual pancake race in Olney is now considered to be the most famous of its kind in the world.

The perfect pancake recipe

The traditional pancake recipe requires 100g plain flour, 2 large eggs, 300ml milk, 2 tbsp melted butter and a pinch of salt. Whisk the ingredients together and allow the batter to rest beforehand, ideally for 30 minutes. This enables the flour to absorb the liquid and results in lighter, fluffier pancakes.

Heat a teaspoon of butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add around 2 to 3 tbsp of batter per pancake. Cook them for around 1 minute on each side. The main event is, of course, the pancake flip! The trick is to shake the pan to loosen your pancake, tip it to the edge of the pan and flip it with a confident flick of the wrist. Then serve with your toppings of choice.

If you’re feeling more adventurous you might like to try our Sweet And Nutty Flavoured Chestnut Pancake recipe.

Healthy Spelt Sweet And Nutty Flavoured Chestnut Pancakes Recipe

When you’re shopping for Pancake Day ingredients, remember that Real Foods has you covered. From ready-made mixes to delicious toppings, we have everything you need for a flipping great day! 

About Post Author

Get Social!

Back To The Blog