Tuesday, 24 February 2009

It’s Pancake Tuesday!

I love pancakes any day but I try not to eat too many as my favourite is pancake with honey and lemon. I don’t have sugar but it’s still a bit fattening.

Never mind our grandchildren love pancakes too so we have to make and eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent begins.

The pancake has a very long history and has been featured in cookbooks dating back as far as the 15th century. Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday, (apparently the word Shrove came from the old English word shrive which meant confess all sins) is traditionally a time to feast before fasting. Apparently it started when Christians who observed the Lenten tradition of fasting wanted to use up all the rich ingredients in their cupboards before Lent started. The humble pancake was the perfect way to use up ingredients like eggs, sugar and fat that weren’t allowed and would otherwise spoil.

The tradition of tossing or flipping a pancake dates back just as far and is a very serious pastime for some people.

Did you know?

• Ralf Laue from Leipzig broke the world record for tossing a pancake by flipping it into the air 416 times in two minutes.
• The world's biggest pancake was cooked in Rochdale in 1994, weighing in a three tonnes, measuring a delicious 15 metres in diameter and holding an estimated two million calories.
• The largest number of pancakes tossed in the shortest time in the UK is 349 tossed in 2 minutes at Felixstowe, Suffolk in January 1995.
• Chefs at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago tried to build a record-setting stack of pancakes, but the wiggling, wobbling stack of flapjacks just wouldn't stay put. Organisers wanted to nab a space in the Guinness Book of World Records by building a pancake tower that was 16 feet tall. After nearly an hour of work and the help of some extra-long toothpicks the crumbling stack of buttermilk pancakes never made it past 16 inches.
• The tallest recorded pancake stack is two feet, three-inches tall.
• Mike Cuzzacrea ran a marathon whilst continually tossing a pancake for three hours, two minutes and 27 seconds.

The Art to Pancake Tossing

It seems that there is far more to tossing a pancake than meets the eye. According to a study conducted by a senior physics lecturer from Birmingham, the solution to tossing the perfect pancake is down to speed. He concluded that a pancake should be flipped into the air at a speed of 10 miles-an-hour, which means it takes less than .5 of a second to reach the top of its trajectory. I think it just needs a pretty nifty wrist and a good non-stick pan!

My husband is the better pancake maker and he made sure we had all the ingredients and the accompaniments yesterday.

The BBC website has more information and fancier recipes for anyone wanting more sophisticated culinary fare.

Here are some tips and a good basic recipe:

  • Don't use a heavy pan, yes they will cook more evenly but you'll either not be able to flip them or end up dropping the pan.

  • Do not put too much oil in or you'll end up splashing yourself or someone else with hot oil.

  • Stand slightly to the side of the hob, if the pancake falls on the floor you can just thrown it away. If it falls on to the gas ring you've got problems.

  • Be confident when you flip them, you need height not forward movement.

Basic Pancake Recipe

Makes: 8 pancakes
Preparation Time: 15 minutes, plus standing
Cooking Time: 15 minutes


4 ozs/110g Plain flour
2 Eggs
7fl ozs/200ml Milk mixed with about 3fl ozs/75ml water(You can use all milk if you wish)
Vegetable oil, for frying
Sugar, lemon and orange wedges to serve.


1. Sift the flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre.
2. Add the eggs and beat with a whisk or fork.
3. Gradually beat in the milk, drawing in the flour from around the edge, until you have a smooth batter.
4. Cover and leave to stand in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
5. Heat a little oil in a non stick frying pan, tilting the pan to spread the oil evenly.
6. Pour out the oil into a dish, be careful this will be very hot.
7. Pour in just enough batter to thinly coat the base of the pan.
8. Cook for 1-2 minutes until golden on the under side.
9. Flip over, and cook the other side until golden.
10.Transfer to a plate and keep warm, while you cook the others.
11. Oil the pan again and repeat with the remaining batter to make eight pancakes.
12. Serve with a sprinkle of sugar and a squeeze of orange or lemon.

I prefer honey with lemon on mine and my grandchildren like chocolate spread.

Happy flipping!


  1. I thought about doing a post on Shrove Tuesday and then I read yours. You have done such a wonderful job, and I very much enjoyed reading it. Cloody and I will have our pancake supper tonight at St. Stephens along with most of the town. It' a tradition in Blytheville.

  2. Thank you very much.

    Have a lovely time Frank and Cloody. You have some nice traditions there. I've just made some with my grandson and granddaughter. Our pancake tossing was great fun and very accurate. More of a flip really than a toss! They were delicious. I decided to cook them with butter instead of oil! Very naughty but nice.

  3. Hey! It's national pancake week on this side of the pond.

  4. Oh a week of pancakes. Now that's overkill! How much weight would I put on with 7 pancake days?

    I have to cut down, only 12 weeks to the holidays and I've got to lose some flab to get into the bathing cossie.

  5. My best friend and I believe strongly that we look less fat when we're tanned. When we go on vacation, we tan for a few weeks first! Eat the pancakes and go tanning ;-)

  6. Like pancakes I will have to try honey and lemon on some, sounds good.

  7. Dear Winifred ~~ Great post about Shrove Tuesday. My query is why flip them? I just cook them and turn them. Is there a reason?
    Glad you enjoyed the poem about Jack Benny and his roses. I hope it is true. Take care, my friend, Love, Merle.

  8. Hi Winifred,

    Yesterday your word verification thingy wasn't leaving me let my comment. I will try again today.

    I am not a pancake lover, but, my children loved them so they learned to make them and enjoyed them anytime they wanted a pancake. Therefore, I will leave the pancake flipping to you, Winifred. ;) I did enjoy reading all about pancakes and the proper way to flip....

  9. My Grandmother made delicate, beautiful, pancakes, with a squeeze of lemon juice, and a sprinkle of sugar. They were more crepe like as I recall. We loved them. I will make them with the honey. I don't like the grittiness of the sugar really so honey will be a great alternative.
    My husband likes them loaded up with blueberries, that is also a delicious treat.
    Thank you for the recipe Winifred.

  10. Mmm! I love pancakes, but we had them on Saturday morning, so I think we're having something else tonight.
    My favourite pancakes have blueberries or bananas in them. They are delicious, aren't they?


  11. Give me good old fashioned Maple Syrup on my pancakes. I also like apple sauce on them. That was my grandmother's favorite.

    We have been having pancakes every Sunday after church here in Henderson. They are yummy.

    Happy days.

    ~hippo hugs~

  12. I usually save the pancake making for the week-ends. I don't flip them in the air, just gently turn them over. I do make several to look like feet for the grandkids, they get a kick out of that.

  13. Fascinating pancake info! I make little "silver dollar" pancakes like my mom used to make. My daughter likes them plain.

  14. I love pancakes too Winifred. This year we were staying with daughter and she made some for us and I think it is the first year since I was a child that I have had them made for me. She did a good job and tossed them without mishap too. Every year I think that I will have them through the year as well but never do. Great post. A x


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