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
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.