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Pancake Day

Posted Feb 6th 2018

People up and down the country have stocked up on chocolate spread, bananas, lemons and sugar for Pancake Day.

With the nation's collective palates already watering at the thought of the treat, we've put together a comprehensive guide for you to enjoy the marvellous invention.

Do you go savoury or sweet? How long should you fry them for? When should you toss it?

When is Pancake Day?

Pancake Day always falls 47 days before Easter so the date moves but it will always be between February 3 and March 9.  This year Pancake Day takes place on Tuesday, February 13.

What is Shrove Tuesday?

Shrove Tuesday is the day that precedes Ash Wednesday. As it is determined by Easter, for which the actual date changes on an annual basis.

The name Shrove Tuesday comes from 'shrive', meaning absolution for sins by doing penance.  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'. It's still rung today.

In the US it's called Mardi Gras aka 'Fat Tuesday' in French mainly because we use up the fatty foods before Lent.  Pancake Day itself came much later as a way of using up rich foods, like eggs, milk and sugar before the 40 days of fasting - Lent .

Why pancakes?

Pancakes are now forever associated with Shrove Tuesday as it is a sort of all-in-one way of using up some fatty foods before Lent.

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

The actual tradition of mixing them up for pancakes is thought to come from a pagan ritual, but others say it is a Christian tradition - with each ingredient representing one of the four pillars of the faith. Eggs for creation, flour sustenance or the staff of life, salt for wholesomeness and milk for purity.

If you're wondering why we toss pancakes it looks like it's a tradition that dates back far longer than any of us have been around.  The pancake features in cook books as far back as 1439 and the idea of tossing them is almost as old. "And every man and maide doe take their turne, and tosse their Pancakes up for feare they burne." (Pasquil's Palin, 1619).

What to have on your pancakes?

You've got your pancakes now what do you put on them?  If milk and eggs aren't enough of a treat then there are an endless conveyor belt of toppings you can choose to eat your pancakes with.

Whether it's chocolate spread, lemon juice and sugar, maple syrup or even goats cheese and butternut squash, there's loads of different pancake ideas to tickle those taste buds:

Sweet Pancakes

Lemon cheese pancakes - Not as bizarre as you may think, this is a classic combination of mascarpone and lemon. These pancakes are like a little cheesecake parcel - delicious!

Salted caramel and pretzel pancakes - Salted caramel is a trend that is going nowhere so why not team it with your pancakes.  These salted caramel and pretzel pancakes balance the saltiness with ice cream and the sweetness with added pretzels - the perfect combination.

Clementine crêpes - The zesty mix of clementines, Cointreau and orange juice can liven up any pancakes.  Perfect for a pancake recipe that you want to include some of your five-a-day in too, as clementines are packed with vitamin C.

Banoffee pancakes - Got a sweet tooth? Gooey banoffee pancakes should hit the spot. Filled with warmed banana slices, drizzled in a classic banoffee sauce and served with ice cream - you can't go wrong!  Serve this pancake recipe up in a stack for a delicious and impressive looking dessert.

Chocolate crêpes - Fancy something a little more indulgent? Rich chocolate crepes will please any chocolate lover.  Chocolate and pancakes make the perfect combination - treat the kids to this one and you'll be in their good books for weeks!

Mango and honey pancakes - Layer your pancakes with a fruity combination of mango, passion fruit, runny honey and Greek yogurt to make these tangy mango and honey pancakes. These pancakes are super sweet and will leave you feeling super satisfied

Strawberry, almond and caramel pancakes - Indulge your sweet tooth with this strawberry, almond and caramel pancake recipe. You can use the delicious mixture as a pancake filling or topping - it's up to you!  These make a real change from your usual pancake recipe and you'll just love the combination of flavours and textures.

Apple and chocolate crisp pancakes - Best served with custard or ice cream, these apple and chocolate crisp pancakes are the ultimate treat for Pancake Day.  Like a warm apple pie filling but with added chocolate - what more could you want?

Millionaire's shortbread pancakes - Caramel, shortbread and chocolate - all the delicious parts of millionaire's shortbread... in a pancake! These millionaire's shortbread pancakes are definitely a luxurious treat - but it's only once a year, right?

American blueberry - The nation speaks; our most popular pancake recipe on the site is always a good choice for Pancake Day. Thicken them up with baking powder and self-raising flour and get liberal with the syrup. There's no need to stick to blueberries either – serve with a selection of fruits and let everyone help themselves.

Savoury Pancakes

Cheese and broccoli pancakes - A simple cheese sauce and broccoli is all you need to turn your pancakes into a savoury meal. Cheese and broccoli go so well together and you know you'll be getting some goodness from the vitamin packed brocolli this is a winner!

Leek, mushroom and cheese pancakes - Pancakes can also be eaten as part of a healthy diet. Leek, mushroom and cheese pancakes are an easy and filling lunch idea.  Just because you're on a diet doesn't mean you can't get involved in the pancake fun!

Butternut squash and stilton pancakes - Give your pancakes a fancy touch with this tasty vegetarian butternut squash and Stilton filling. These pancakes taste just as good as they sound and will give your Pancake Day favourite a new lease of life.  This recipe is full of flavour and feels really indulgent - who knew a simple pancake could feel so fancy?

Breakfast bacon and egg - Thin and limp not your thing? Throw mashed potato into the mix for chunky pancakes – you'll still get all the fun of the traditional prep but they'll be much nicer with a breakfast topping of bacon and egg.