On Pancake Tuesday people all over Ireland will indulge in delicious pancakes.
Nearly every person in Ireland will eat a pancake at some point on this Tuesday, also known as Shrove Tuesday.
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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'.
These pancakes are made on the day before Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins.
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 Lemon and Sugar Pancakes
Here you’ll find a quick list of what you’ll need for this recipe. Check out the printable recipe at the bottom of this post for US and Metric equivalent versions of the recipe. There you can choose the measurement system that works best for you.
- all-purpose flour
- whole milk
- melted butter (for frying)
- freshly squeezed lemon juice
- sugar (for serving)
These pancakes have no baking soda or baking powder. They actually do not have any leavening agent since they remain as flat crepes when cooked in a frying pan.
Directions for Lemon and Sugar Pancakes
Here you’ll find step-by-step photographic instructions to help you recreate this recipe successfully. There are plenty of tips included along the way.
Make the Batter
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.
Cooking the pancakes in a skillet
Heat an 8-inch 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 ¼ 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. The cooked side should be golden brown.
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.
Pancakes served with a squeeze of lemon juice and sugar are typical fare in Ireland for Pancake Tuesday.
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.
Recipe Card for Irish Lemon and Sugar Pancakes
Here's a short video outlining the steps.
Here is the printable recipe.
Lemon and Sugar Irish Pancakes
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 4 ounces butter half melted for batter and half for frying pancakes
- 1 large lemon for juice 2 small lemons
- ¼ cup sugar for serving
- Add the flour and salt to a batter or mixing bowl and whisk to remove any lumps.
- Add the eggs to the flour. Add a little milk and whisk together with an electric mixer. Gradually add the remainder of the milk.
- Add the melted butter to the batter and whisk again for about 2 minutes. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes or until ready to cook the pancakes.
- When ready to fry the pancakes beat the batter for 1 more minute with an electric mixer.
- Heat an 8-inch skillet over medium-high heat, and brush with melted butter. Pour about ¼ cup of batter into the pan and tilt the pan from side to side to cover it in a thin layer of batter.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Alternative pancake fillings include jam, chocolate spread, maple syrup or golden syrup.
Nutrition Information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients used.
Hope you all have fun, flipping pancakes on Pancake Tuesday.
If you prefer other styles of pancakes check out these Irish recipes.
Boxty is a potato pancake made with a mixture of mashed potatoes and grated potatoes.
Buttermilk pancakes are deliciously fluffy and are made with baking soda to make them light.
No matter what you name this special day, I hope Tuesday holds some indulgent treats for you and yours.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Mairéad -Irish American Mom
Pronunciation - slawn ah-gus ban-ock-th
Mairéad - rhymes with parade
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