Just in case anyone’s missed it, today is Shrove Tuesday, otherwise known as Pancake Day or in French, Mardi Gras, meaning Fat Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday is an important day in the Christian calendar, being the last day before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins. Traditionally, it is a day of celebration and feasting when all of the good things in the house are eaten up to make way for the long Lenten fast, including butter, eggs and milk. As we know, butter eggs and milk (with a little flour) make pancakes. So it’s easy to see how a tradition of making pancakes on Shrove Tuesday came about – reckoned to be at some point in the Middle Ages.
Tossing pancakes is all part of the fun. If you’re feeling energetic as a result of all those carbs, you can burn them off in a traditional pancake race: pancakes are carried in a frying pan and tossed at the start and finish of the race, with points given for the best flip. I was surprised to learn that the first one recorded was as far back as 1445 in Olney, Buckinghamshire.
The day cannot go unmarked and in time honoured tradition, I made pancakes for breakfast. In a slightly less traditional approach, I added cocoa and banana to my batter – more Mardi Gras in sunny Rio than in grey rainy Cornwall. The recipe for cocoa Scotch pancakes I’ve adapted from a new arrival on my bookshelf, Chocolate by Jennifer Donovan. A review will follow. As usual, I decided to go my own way: due to a surfeit of bananas, I substituted one for the sugar and also added a little cinnamon.
This is how I made:
Chocolate Banana Scotch Pancakes
- Whizzed a banana into 250ml milk with a hand held blender.
- Sifted 250g flour (half wholemeal, half white) into a bowl together with 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp maca powder (for a mini health kick) and 1 tbsp cocoa powder.
- Made a well in the centre and added a duck egg (can use large hen’s egg).
- Stirred from the centre outward gradually adding the milk and incorporating the flour until all is well mixed.
- Heated a frying pan over medium heat and added a small knob of butter.
- Placed spoonfuls of batter on the frying pan and left to cook for a a couple of minutes or so, until bubbles started to appear on the surface of the batter.
- Flipped the pancakes over and cooked for a further minute.
- Kept warm in the oven until the batter was finished.
- Served with nectarines and maple syrup.
It’s not often we manage pancakes for breakfast on Shrove Tuesday, but fate was with us today. CT reckoned the pancakes were robust and hearty and not too sweet, just what was needed to set him up for the day. They had a real taste of the tropics with the chocolate and cinnamon flavours coming through loud and strong and the banana a faint undertow. I was really pleased I didn’t add any sugar to the mix as the pancakes were quite sweet enough from the banana and we were able to add maple syrup to suit individual preferences. The nectarines made for a surprisingly good combination and were a perfect foil for the carbohydrate laden pancakes giving freshness, acidity and added flavour.
There is still time to join in the pancake fun with Sainsbury’s who are offering four prizes for the best Twitter Pancake Selfie. Just tweet a photo of your pancake to @SainsburyPR and @Sainsburys including the hashtag #SainsbosPelfie by midnight on Tuesday 4th March. You will need to follow them both on Twitter too.