As a Briton living in the United States, I complain about many things, but high on my frustration list is the fact that so few people here celebrate Shrove Tuesday.
Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Day, always falls the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Since Lent was traditionally a period of fasting, pancakes were an easy way to use up flour, eggs, and milk. To this day, Shrove Tuesday remains a tradition in Great Britain. I have fond memories of listening to a reading of “The Runaway Pancake” at school, arguing with my brothers about who would get the first pancake at home, and later, as a university student, masterfully making my own pancakes for my flatmates after stumbling home from the pub.
Pancakes and their kin go by many names depending on where you’re from (flapjacks, griddle cakes, hot cakes, drop scones, crêpes, etc.) and vary considerably in taste and style. Some are thick, some are thin; some are simple, others are extravagant. Though the traditional English pancake is a plain crêpe with a simple topping, our list also includes recipes for French, Scottish and American-style pancakes, in case you want to do something different.
I don’t mind which recipe you choose—so long as more people celebrate Shrove Tuesday.
First, I’ll deliver you to our national treasure, Delia Smith, for an easy recipe to ensure you enjoy Pancake Day. (Confused about the ingredients, my American friends? I got you. All-purpose flour is the same as plain flour, and caster sugar is just extra-refined granulated sugar.) Enjoy with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of sugar, or Golden syrup, which I sometimes find in the international aisle of grocery stores.
Those of you who are fans of Full Frontal With Samantha Bee know that the people of Scotland are not Scotch, but Scottish:
Donald Trump: I love the people, I love the Scotch—I’m Scotch myself.
Amy Hoggart: It’s Scottish you plonker!
However, “Scotch” is an acceptable word to use when applied to food, e.g. Scotch egg, or Scotch whisky (both of which are amazing). Anyway, Scotch pancakes are smaller and fluffier than their English cousins (closer to American-style pancakes). They are excellent with a little butter on top.
If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you already know how obsessed I am with these pancakes. They are a staple in my breakfast recipe rotation because they are so simple, not to mention healthy! Simply mash a ripe banana, combine well with two eggs, and heat small portions on a griddle pan. (I think they work best with coconut oil.)
For some reason, we never had Nutella in my house growing up. (We did, however, always have peanut butter, which possibly explains why I’ve assimilated so easily to American life.) When I think of Nutella, I think of crêpes; I especially love Nutella crêpes with bananas and strawberries. But, I have to admit, sometimes all that is a little much for a thin crêpe, and the whole thing goes cold very quickly. I love that this recipe is more of the thick and fluffy variety, and that the Nutella filling stuffed inside (made by freezing little discs of Nutella ahead of time) stays warm.
I am next-level obsessed with the combination of berries and white chocolate, and what could be better than enjoying them with pancakes? For an easy variation, try the recipe with raspberries instead.
Alright, it’s time to get a little more fancy. Maybe you want to impress your date, or show your parents that you love them, or take a night off from worrying about the country to clot your sorrows with ricotta. (I’m not here to judge.) These crêpes have a delicate hint of citrus, and pair well with the simple raspberry sauce and decadent ricotta.
Americans may already be over the red velvet craze by now. (Britons, maybe not—yay or nay?) Uncool as I am, I still enjoy all things red velvet even though it’s no longer the trendiest flavor in town. Who can blame me? Look how pretty they are!
OK, so there’s a lot going on in this recipe. First of all, the author of this recipe clearly had St Patrick’s Day in mind, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make them for Shrove Tuesday—in fact, it’s the perfect opportunity to test-run your pancake skills before March 17th. Second of all—Bailey’s? In pancakes?! I don’t need to say anything else.
I called Mississippi home for two years, so of course I have to shout out to my boy Elvis, who was known to enjoy a sandwich filled with peanut butter, bacon, and bananas. For those of you who aren’t horrified, I totally recommend trying these flavors in a pancake. I can’t help falling in love with you…
No, you haven’t been Confunded—this really is possible. Now, this recipe isn’t exactly traditional, but what’s more British than Harry Potter? These pancakes are a buttery, syrupy, butterscotchy wonder and I have no doubt that J. K. Rowling would be super proud of you for making them for Shrove Tuesday. So what are you waiting for?
I hope I’ve inspired you to eat pancakes tonight, or perhaps later in the week or at the weekend. Get on board, America!
As for me, I’ll be whipping up a batch of Delia’s finest and thinking fondly of home. Some communities in Britain organize special Shrove Tuesday events, such as a pancake race (where participants run, pans held out in front of them, as they try to flip and catch their pancakes).
I never got the chance to participate whilst I lived in England, but now I fantasize about bringing such a beautiful event here to Pittsburgh (preferably taking place on one of the city’s bridges). Perhaps next year?
How will you be celebrating Shrove Tuesday? Tweet us @LitDarling!
Images by Richard Gillin.