Irish Pancakes For Shrove Tuesday

Pancake Tuesday falls this week and all over Ireland people will indulge in delicious pancakes.  Nearly every person in Ireland will eat a pancake at some point on Tuesday.

Pancake Tuesday is the last day before Lent begins, falling 47 days before Easter Sunday  Just like Easter, the date changes every year. Sundays do not officially count as part of the 40 days of Lent.

Pancake Day is the most popular term for this celebration, but it is also referred to as Shrove Tuesday in Ireland and England, or Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras here in the United States.  Mardi Gras is a French term brought to America by French settlers to Louisiana.  It literally means ‘Grease Tuesday’.

Lent is a time of abstinence so Fat Tuesday evolved into a day of indulgence, a time to use up decadent foods not permitted to be eaten during Lent. 

In years gone by eating fat, butter and eggs was forbidden during the 40 days of Lent.  Pancakes were the perfect treat to use up any kitchen stores of banned lenten ingredients.  Pancake Tuesday is humbling, when you think that a simple pancake was deemed luscious by our ancestors.

The pancakes of my childhood were not light, fluffy, thick buttermilk pancakes so popular in America.  Our pancakes were thin, flat cakes, made by frying batter in a pan, just like French crêpes.

A dash of freshly-squeezed lemon juice was added to the top, then sprinkled lightly with fine white sugar.  The pancake was then rolled and served.

Here is my recipe for the pancakes of my youth:

 

Ingredients For Irish Pancakes

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 stick butter (2 oz melted)
  • 1/4 stick melted butter (for frying)
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (for serving)

 

 

Add the flour and salt to a batter or mixing bowl.  Pour in the eggs.

Next comes the milk.

Whisk it all together with a hand beater for 1 to 2 minutes.  Melt 2 oz of butter in the microwave and pour into the batter.  Whisk it once again.

Heat an 8-ince skillet over medium-high heat.  You can use any size skillet to cook pancakes.  The recipe yield will vary depending upon the size of your pan.

My mother likes to let the batter stand for about 10 minutes, then she gives it a quick beating once again before cooking it.  I have often skipped this waiting step, with good results.

Brush the inside of the pan with melted butter.  I like to use butter rather than oil for cooking these pancakes, just to add some extra flavor.

Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into the pan, tilting it from side to side to spread the batter all around in a thin layer.

Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.  The pancake is ready to flip when the upper side is looking dry.

Flip the pancake.  I like saying flip, but to be honest, I use a spatula to turn mine over.  Who knows where they might land if I tried some real pancake flipping.

Cook the pancake for about 30 seconds to 1 minute on this side.

Turn the pancake onto a plate.  Cover it with foil and keep it warm as you cook the rest of the pancakes in the skillet.  My batter yielded 15 pancakes, but that may vary depending upon how thickly you pour them.

To serve, spread 1 to 2 teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice on the inside of each pancake.  Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of fine white sugar. 

In Ireland I use caster sugar, which is finer than the regular kind, but here in America the regular sugar is very fine.

Roll the pancakes cigarette style, to form long thin cylinders.  Serve immediately. 

Garnish with some slices of lemon if you like the extra touch.  My little girl doesn’t wait for any fancy fixin’s before digging in to these lemony rolls of sugary goodness.

Some people like to use alternative fillings to traditional lemon and sugar.  Jam, chocolate hazelnut spread, bananas, or maple syrup are but a few delicious fillings to choose from.  The possibilities are endless.

Here is the printable recipe:

Irish Pancakes For Shrove Tuesday

Serves 12 - 15
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Allergy Egg, Milk, Wheat
Region British
Irish pancakes are thin, flat cakes, made by frying batter in a pan, just like French crêpes. A dash of freshly-squeezed lemon juice and a sprinkle of fine white sugar on the inside before rolling, make these pancakes delicious.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Large eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 stick butter (2 oz melted)
  • 1/4 stick melted butter (for frying)
  • fresh squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (for serving)

Directions

Step 1 Make a batter by whisking together the flour, salt, eggs and milk.
Step 2 Add the melted butter and continue to whisk to form a smooth, thin batter.
Step 3 Heat an 8-inch skillet over medium-high heat, and brush with melted butter.
Step 4 Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and tilt the pan from side to side to cover it in a thin layer of batter.
Step 5 Reduce to medium heat. When the top is beginning to look dry after 1 to 2 minutes, flip the pancake and continue to cook for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute on the second side.
Step 6 Transfer the cooked pancake or crêpe to a plate, and cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter. This recipe yields between 12 to 15, 8-inch pancakes, depending on how thickly they are poured.
Step 7 When the pancakes are cooked, pour 1 to 2 teaspoons of lemon juice on the inside of each pancake, then sprinkle with sugar. Roll each pancake to form a cylindrical shape. Serve immediately.
Step 8 Alternative pancake fillings include jam, chocolate spread, maple syrup or golden syrup.

Hope you all have fun, flipping pancakes on Pancake Tuesday.  No matter what you name this special day, I hope Tuesday holds some indulgent treats for you and yours.

Slan agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

 

Irish American Mom

Comments

  1. Always love to hear how other cultures enjoy their food, and these pancakes could easily be enjoyed as an entree at any meal, and for dessert too! Thanks for sharing the interesting background also!

    • Hi Bonnie – You’re right – these pancakes make a perfect entree also. They are lovely stuffed with chicken and mushroom cream sauce. My kids love them spread with Nutella or jam too. There are endless variations for fillings!! My mouth is watering just thinking about them.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Mairead

  2. Thank you for this recipie! My husband and I enjoyed these Irish pancakes last night (in Boston). They reminded both of us of the pancakes our mothers would make!

  3. These look gorgeous!!!Cant wait to try them:)Hope you had a nice pancake Tuesday!!

  4. mary donegan says:

    I was one of seven children growing up in Co Tipperary. My Mom made these for teatime on Shrove Tuesday, She stirred a couple of tiny thin English,10 pence coins into the batter. When they were cooked, they were rolled and stacked on a large platter. Each child took a pancake, hoping it would be one of the ones with the coin……………you could buy a lot of sweets with 10 pence back in the fifties.

    • Mary – I can only imagine how many sweets you could buy for 10 pence in the fifties in Ireland. I remember fizzle sticks and Peggy’s Legs for a half pence in the sixties. Those were the days! I love your Mom’s tradition of adding some coins to the batter. How exciting it must have been for all of you.
      Thanks so much for stopping by my website and for sharing your lovely story.
      Take care,
      Mairead

  5. Allison Hogan says:

    I wonder if you can use buttermilk or any kind of milk (i.e. fat free, skim, 2%, etc) instead of Vitamin D milk. My husband and I always buy skim milk. We do have vanilla almond milk (which is way to sweet for our tastes as I found out after I bought it…..of course). I use that for coffee creamer. I wonder if that would work too in place of vitamin D milk. What do you think?

    • Allison – I would not recommend using buttermilk since there is no baking soda, an alkaline, in this recipe, to interact with buttermilk’s lactic acid. I have made this recipe with skim milk and the pancakes have turned out fine. The taste is not as rich as when they are made with full fat milk, but for those of us that try to be a little health conscious they hit the spot. I don’t think almond milk will work since it is very sweet. I don’t think the flavor would go well with lemon juice and sugar.
      Hope this helps.
      Mairéad

  6. love your recipes.. as someone from over there living over here I miss some of the stuff I grew up with and my adopted American family loves the food I make…. and your recipe for pancakes is pretty much the same a my mothers… though I would like to point out you missed out the ancient sport of tossing the pancakes… even if some do stick to the ceiling !!!

    • Tim – No matter how often I try to toss a pancake I always seem to make a mess. I just don’t get the right flipping action going – it’s usually the floor, not the ceiling that ends up in trouble with me. My family love these simple pancakes. The choices for fillings are endless, but nutella, or lemon and sugar are my kids’ favorites. Glad these pancakes are just like your mothers.
      Best wishes,
      Mairéad

  7. Jennifer says:

    Yum, butter and cinnamon and sugar was our filling of choice…

  8. Mariana says:

    You should try them filled with “dulce de leche”, you’ll be in heaven 😛

  9. Thanks for the recipe – just perfect, exactly like my Mammy used to make. I have tried many recipes over the years, but none as good as this one. Melting the butter and brushing to coat the pan is a great tip, much better results than the nonstick sprays… Made pancakes tonight on Shrove Tuesday for my American Family. Everyone polished their plates, from the traditional lemon/sugar combination to a dessert pancake filled with vanilla ice cream, topped with lemon, icing sugar, whipped cream and caramel syrup!

    Going to try your sponge cake next, I have not been able to get that right either. I love that you take pictures of the ingredients. So many American products are different and don’t bake the same. I am going to look for that flour in my local store. Keep the recipes coming!

    Another Irish American Mom

    • Sighle – I’m delighted this recipe is just like your Mammy used to make. It sounds like you all had fun on Tuesday testing all those wonderful pancake toppings. I hope your sponge turns out well. Remember to beat the eggs and sugar until they are very stiff, and mix the flour in very gently.
      All the best, and thanks for stopping by.
      Mairéad

  10. Planning to make these tomorrow and spread them with a bit a bit of home made lemon curd and top them with a sprinkle of cardamom sugar. Thank you for this recipe!

    • Mary – Your lemon curd topping sounds delicious. Hope you enjoy them! Happy Pancake Tuesday tomorrow.
      All the best,
      Mairéad

      • Hi Mairead,
        You are making me so hungry reading all these wondering comments. My family ran a pub in Limerick and my mother used to add a smattering of an orange liquor (think it was Grand Marnier) and spritz of fresh squeezed lemon with a slice on top. Oh my GOD I think I used to eat about 10 each “Pancake Night” Thanks!

        • Deirdre – A little Grand Marnier on a pancake sounds decadently delicious. What a great idea. I remember once having a crepe in Paris with a little Cointreau on it – just yummy! Thanks so much for checking out this recipe and I’m so glad it brought back good memories for you.
          All the best,
          Mairéad

  11. Mary Ellen says:

    My grand mother and mom used to make these. They are delicious. We used to shake a little powdered sugar on them or pour a bit of maple syrup and then roll. I’m going to try the lemon and sugar next time. I grew up eating these and never knew they were an Irish recipe. My family came from eastern europe, but we do have a little Irish blood, too.

    • Mary Ellen – These are the pancakes of my childhood. We Irish probably borrowed the original French crepe recipe, and called them Irish once so many people started making them on Pancake Tuesday. I think many people throughout Europe use similar recipes for the day before Lent begins. Thanks so much for checking out my recipe.
      All the best,
      Mairéad

  12. Loved this recipe! Just like my (Dublin) mom used to make. She had a stroke a few years ago so all her recipes are locked away in her memory. I made these for Shrove Tuesday, just like Mom used to do, and the kids said it was the best dinner they every had. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Una – I’m so sorry to hear of your mother’s stroke, and that she has residual memory and communication issues. But I’m glad these pancakes were just like your mom’s Dublin pancakes. It sounds like they got your family’s seal of approval. “Best dinner ever” is quite a title. Thanks so much for checking out my recipe.
      All the best,
      Mairéad

  13. I used your recipe tonight. My son Declan has a milk allergy so soy milk and marg substituted. He wondered where the people in the “olden days” would have gotten lemons in Ireland in February. We giggled as we speculated and thoroughly enjoyed them!

    • Hi Siobhan – It’s great to know this recipe works well when using soy milk. Thanks so much for adding this tip for other readers that also may have a milk allergy.
      I’d say lemons were few and far between in Ireland prior to the 1960’s. I wonder if people put butter and sugar on pancakes instead. What a great question your son posed. I need to check out when citrus fruits were first imported to Ireland and Great Britain.
      All the best,
      Mairéad

  14. Go raibh maith agat. Slán agus beannacht.
    Mairead

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