miniature pancakes
© F H Powell 2010

Although pancakes are eaten at any time of year, the tradition of eating them on Shrove Tuesday remains. The word Shrove comes from the old English word shrive meaning to confess ones sins, a practice Christians do the day be for the fasting of Lent. In French it is known as Mardi Gras or ‘fat Tuesday’ referring to the feast prior to the 40 days of fasting.

Pancakes in Britain go back to Roman times when street vendors would sell them. By the 1400’s recipes were appearing in cookbooks and the first pancake race took place in 1445 in Olney in Buckinghamshire. The object of a pancake race is to run over a set course or distance whilst flipping or tossing a pancake in a pan without dropping it. If this is a sport more for the ladies then the men competed in Shrove Tuesday football, which was known as mob football. It was played by as many men as wanted to join in, with the goal posts set at either end of the village. The Highways Act of 1835 prohibited street football, but the tradition still remains in some villages in England. A feast of pancakes completes the day for the weary players.

Basic pancake recipes are quite straightforward requiring only plain flour, salt, eggs, milk, water and butter. These are mixed to form a batter that is then poured into a hot pan to cook. Traditionally they are served with lemon and sugar. The pancake is an easy way to use up perishable ingredients before fasting during Lent. Many themes have evolved from the basic pancake including crépes Suzette served with flaming Brandy or Pancake Barbara with cream, ice cream, nuts and chocolate sauce.

The date of Shove Tuesday varies as it is based upon the date of Easter (which in turn is based on the cycles of the moon) and this year, 2009, falls on 24th February. Why not add some traditional pancake themes to you dolls house? Visit our web shop for 1/12th scale pancakes, pans and griddles.