The Perfect Pancake for Shrove Tuesday or should that be Sardines?
Want to make the perfect Pancake? I’ve been practising my pancakes looking for the perfect pancake recipe and the ultimate filling. It doesn’t take much to get me battering up and making pancakes and they are a useful thing to get to grips with if you are cooking for one or two because of course, you do make them to order. Savoury pancakes are delicious, the method and recipe is very easy so if you haven’t tried making your own, then now is a good opportunity. One of the dishes I survived on through University, pancakes are very frugal and you can make the batter up with a few basic ingredients you probably already have in the store cupboard and add whatever filling you happen to have to hand. One egg, and a small amount of milk and flour will make four pancakes to fill with something savoury or dessert for 2 people topped with something sweet!
Traditional sweet pancakes with lemon and sugar, take me back to my childhood when we always had pancakes or apple fritters after roast beef, because early on in her culinary career my mother realised the batter for pancakes was pretty much the same as a Yorkshire pudding one. But these sweet but simple morsels are also the sort of pancakes eaten on Shrove Tuesday.
The tradition of making pancakes comes from a need to use up all the butter and eggs in the house the day before Lent. Then, for 40 days and 40 nights, leading up to Easter, good Christian households would observe a period of frugal eating, remembering Christ’s time in the Wilderness. Today, we are more likely to give up chocolate or wine than meat and eggs but, it’s the same principle.
While I was in the middle of practising my pancake tossing and checking out customs for Shrove Tuesday, I came across a rather peculiar tradition – ‘The burial of the Sardine’. In Spain, while we are practising making pancake batter, they are getting ready to dress in mourning clothes and follow a coffined sardine. On Shrove Tuesday the poor fish is eventually cremated on a large funeral pyre and there’s a great celebration and ummm…feast of sardines. In some parts of Spain the ashes of the cremated sardine are scattered into the sea, in others it is buried. But wherever the Entierro de la Sardine is celebrated, there is a party marking the start of Lent. It makes pancake races seem quite mundane doesn’t it! But links up with Mardi Gras (fat day) and the other great carnivals held around the world. All of which originated from different ways to use up all the fat in the house before the start of Lent.
Back to the pancakes, I made up a small batch last night. My recipe should give you four pancakes and I went into pancake overdrive last night and had three savoury baked pancakes followed by the one remaining pancake with lemon and sugar. Don’t worry too much about getting a perfect round. It’s more important to get a nice lacy thin pancake and the shape won’t show once the pancake is rolled up. If you don’t want to eat them all at once, the batter will keep in the fridge for 48 hours and in fact should improve with resting. Or just invite someone over to share your pancakes with you – after all it’s only 4 days till Valentine’s day!
Footnote: For more about the Spanish custom of Entierro de la sardine contact Mallorca Farmhouses.