Happy Pancake Day

Pancake Day


Thin and dainty, or thick and crispy. Rolled, folded or piled into towers. Drenched in syrup or covered in Nutella. Whatever your tastes or gustatory requirements, there’s something for everyone on Pancake Day.


Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, is the traditional feast day before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday, which is celebrated in some countries by consuming pancakes. Lent – the 40 days leading up to Easter – was traditionally a time of fasting. This year, Pancake Day takes place on Tuesday, February 13. It always falls 47 days before Easter, therefore the date varies, however it will always be between February 3 and March 9. 


What is Shrove Tuesday?

The day gets its name from the tradition of Christians trying to be 'shriven' before Lent. Christians would go to Confession, where they admit their sins to a priest and ask for absolution. A bell would be rung to call them to Confession, which was called the 'pancake bell'. 


In the US it's called Mardi Gras, which is French for ‘Fat Tuesday’, mainly because we use up the fatty foods before Lent.


Why pancakes?

In the past, the ideas were for families to clear out their cupboards and remove the fattening foods (normally the tempting ones), so they were not in their house during Lent. Eggs, milk and sugar aren't traditionally eaten in fasting season, so they need to be devoured beforehand.


In the United Kingdom, we like pancakes with sugar and lemon. Like North American pancakes, Brits drizzle it with golden syrup, or like European pancakes, wrap them around savoury fillings and eat it as a main course. Healthier pancakes, such as gluten free or buck-wheat pancakes are also becoming more popular and therefore we do not feel as guilty when eating them!



  • 100g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 300ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • pinch of salt


Nutrition: there are approximately 107 calories per serving.



  1. Put the flour, eggs, milk, 1 tbsp oil and a pinch of salt into a bowl, then whisk to a smooth batter. 
  2. Set a medium frying pan over a medium heat and carefully wipe it with some oiled kitchen paper. When hot, cook your pancakes for 1 min on each side until golden.


Most popular toppings:

  • Syrup or honey
  • Jam
  • Sugar and lemon
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutella
  • Cheese


Pancakes from around the World!

The different names reflect the differences in customs that have developed over the years in various places around the world. In Sweden, it is called Fettisdagen (Fat Tuesday). In Canada, objects with symbolic value are baked into the pancakes. In France, Shrove Tuesday is called Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. The name Fat Tuesday comes from the ancient custom of parading a fat ox through Paris on this day. The ox was to remind the people that they were not allowed to eat meat during Lent. 


The different names for pancakes around the world:

  • Crepes (originates from France) - Thin, large pancakes that are flipped and cooked on both sides, then folded over sweet fillings.
  • American pancakes
  • M'Semen - Is a rich traditional, pancake-like bread of the Maghreb, most common to Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.
  • Dutch baby pancake - A sweet popover that is normally served for breakfast.
  • Kaiserschmarrn – An Austrian shredded pancake.
  • Pikelets - Petite, small and thick Australian pancakes are popular as a snack or are served with afternoon tea.
  • Cong you bing or Scallion Pancakes (originates from China) - Pan-fried pancakes and typically made from dough, not batter, that are divinely chewy, flaky, and savoury. Often served with a dipping sauce made from soy sauce.
  • Pannukakku (originates from Finland) - Baked in a rectangle or circular pan to a golden, puffy perfection.
  • Coconut-palm sugar pancakes, also known as kueh dadar (originates from China).
  • Kimchi pancake (originates from Korea)
  • Palacsinta (originates in Hungary)


So, the main question from us all at Thames Valley Summer Schools is do you go savoury or sweet?


 13th February 2018 /    Alice /   On this day, Global Events

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