It’s Pancake Day today, or Shrove Tuesday. ‘Shrove’ stems from the old English word ‘shrive’, meaning ‘confess all sins’.
Extract from OlneyOnline.com
A short history of pancakes in Olney…
Olney’s famous race is run every Shrove Tuesday, featuring women who have lived in the town for more than 6 months. It dates back to 1445 and it is believed all began with a townswoman late for the Shriving service at the Olney parish church.
The day is significant. Eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day, is an ancient tradition. It is the day before Lent; the start of the traditional fast. By giving up dairy products, people marked Jesus’ 40 days and nights in the wilderness. So on Shrove Tuesday, stores of dairy products were used up in the pancake mix.
For this Olney woman, it was also important to attend the Shriving service before the start of Lent, a time to confess sins before Ash Wednesday. So the story goes, hearing the church bells ring out for the service, our townswoman fled her house fearful of being late. She ran the distance down the High Street to make it to the parish church – still clutching her frying pan and wearing an apron.
Now, the event is still commemorated hundreds of years later in the Olney pancake race. The Olney residents (women) compete in traditional apron, cap, and holding a fying pan with a real pancake. They must toss their pancake once at the start (outside The Bull Inn) and once at the finish by the church.
When asked what she intended to give up for Lent, a lady in our group said ‘Sex’.
I choked into my tea and biscuits as she was over 80.
She went on to explain that because she lived alone and had no gentleman friend, she was 100% certain she’d be able to stick to it.
As to what I intend to give up for Lent, well if I’m honest, probably nothing. I love my food and I love to cook. Our budget doesn’t allow for many treats anyway, so we stick to the basics, some of which are of course, dairy products.
I love pancakes. My Mum would make a mountain of them, and we would have slices of orange or lemon with a sprinkling of sugar, or perhaps golden syrup. Sometimes, she’d throw in a few sultanas (currants) or a sliced banana, and always used butter in the pan when she cooked them.
When I was looking after a family, the eldest boy’s birthday fell on Pancake Day one year.
It took a bit of explaining that this wouldn’t happen every year and he got quite upset.
I told him that if he wished it, he could always have pancakes on his birthday regardless which day of the week it fell on. It was one of our house traditions that on someone’s birthday, they choose the menu for our main meal.
I would describe myself as a good tosser. I have never dropped one, or had one stick to the ceiling, and come Pancake Day I always got in loads of practice anyway, making at least a dozen for the 3 males in the household. In truth, it was a cheap and filling dessert, thus suiting my budget.
I don’t follow a recipe for pancakes, and looking some up, many add butter to the batter as well as using it to grease the pan. These days I tend to lubricate the pan with oil and have never put butter in the mix.
I don’t measure anything, and my batter is simply flour, 2 eggs, milk and perhaps a little sugar. I tend to make it a bit on the sloppy (not runny) side, as that way I get more pancakes! Sometimes I add fruit (sliced apple, banana, and forest fruits make lovely sweet pancakes, as do strawberries) but most of the time they are plain and we add syrup or lemon juice and sugar.
Hubby uses the same basic ingredients (definitely no sugar though) , but keeps his batter stodgy as he likes his pancakes thick and doughy.
Usually there is just a little mix left over to make a small one for her ladyship, but with no additives!Happy Baking!