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:
- 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:
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,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom