Pancake Day

by Emily on February 23, 2012

It occurred to me on Tuesday, just as I was figuring out what to start preparing for dinner, that it was Pancake Day in the UK.  Perfect excuse to eat pancakes for dinner and nostalgic link to our love affair with London!

We were completely innocent our first Pancake Day and had no clue why there were so many pre-made crepes around the supermarkets.  I thought a new French-British craze was hitting the foodie scene.  Nah….just a little religious, British tradition to learn about.  Shrove Tuesday, by the way, has many different names around the world.  You might be more familiar with Mardi Gras, Fastnacht, or Carnival.    The point being that it is the day preceding Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent where you let all your inhibitions rule and enjoy a simple feast leading up to giving up something for Lent.

Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday in the UK, dates back to records of 1445 (Thank you The Telegraph)…

…on Shrove Tuesday, the “Shriving Bell” rang out to signal the start of the Shriving church service. On hearing the bell a local housewife, who had been busy cooking pancakes in anticipation of the beginning of Lent, ran to the church, frying pan still in hand, still in her apron and a head scarf.

Now traditional Pancake Runs are held throughout the country with children, adults, religious leaders and MP’s alike participating in the fun!

For us, we were happy to deter from our normal menu to have something different.  I made a ham and leek savory pancake as well as the refreshing lemon and sugar sweet one.  Reports from the table suggest that the savory pancake was, and I quote, “really, really good!”  And I can’t argue with that! I was pretty impressed with it myself!  Of course I had help….this is the recipe that I used from Simmer Down.

For the pancakes:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
3 eggs
2 cups milk
½ cup apple cider vinegar (see notes)
½ tsp salt
2 Tbs melted butter, cooled
additional butter to grease the pan

I literally put all of the pancake ingredients into a bowl and used my immersion blender to whip it up!

For the filling:
3 large leeks
6 oz good quality ham
2-3 Tbs heavy cream or crème fraîche
a knob of butter (about 1 Tbs)
a few grinds of nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste

I sauteed the leeks first in a knob of butter, then when they were soft, I added the cream, ham and seasonings.  Easy!

To assemble, lay out the creamy leek & ham delight and sprinkle with a tad bit of cheese.  I didn’t have any gruyere so I just used parmesan.

Roll up, I added a bit of the leftover creamy mix on top and yes, a bit more cheese.  It was a celebration, right?

This was the first time that I’ve ever made buckwheat crepes/galettes/pancakes and they were tasty.  I’m pretty good at the most basic crepe from a childhood full of making Swedish pancakes.

And if you want to get really technical, here’s the formula from University College London professor on the perfect pancake and flip:

L = 4×H /π– D / 2

(L = hand distance from inner edge of the pancake / H = height of flip / D = diameter of pancake)

Maybe you too enjoyed pancakes on Tuesday?  If so, I hope they were delicious!  And if you observe Lent, I hope the beginning days are successful for you!

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