An Irish spring is always full of promise. The days are longer, daffodils dot the roadways with their bright yellow heads, ewes are birthing in fields not too far away, and there are several festive celebrations to carry us right up to summer. The first such event, Pancake Tuesday, takes place today.
Pancake Tuesday, also known in Ireland as Shrove Tuesday, is the Irish version of the widely known Fat Tuesday. It falls just before Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of the Lenten season for Christians.
As with most things Irish, I learned of Pancake Tuesday from my lovely in-laws. My mother in law and sister-in-law make the lightest of pancakes and serve them up with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of caster sugar. The recipe offered below is simply delicious and the one we follow in our Irish Home.
The custom of making pancakes, which actually resemble French crêpes, stems from the days when an Irish homemaker would rid her larder of eggs, sugar, butter and other dairy products so her family could fast for forty-plus days without temptation. Today Pancake Tuesday is less about theology and more about fun.
Known in Irish as Máirt na hInide, you’re sure to enjoy this sometimes-savoury, sometimes-sweet tradition in your home as much as we do in ours.
Simple Irish Pancakes
1 cup/120gm plain flour (self-raising flour)
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons/2oz butter, melted
1. Sift the flour and salt into a medium size mixing bowl.
2. Make a well in the centre of the flour and the add eggs.
3. Add the milk and the butter and whisk.
4. Slowly add the water and continue to whisk until you have a thin batter that is free of lumps.
5. Melt some butter in a warm pan and, when bubbling, add a ladle of batter to the pan. Picking up your pan carefully, tilt it in a circular motion to spread the batter around.
6. Return your pan to the heat and allow the pancake to set. When lightly toasted, flip the pancake and allow the second side to turn a golden colour.
7. Remove from heat and cover with cling film (plastic wrap) until the batter is cooked up. Serve immediately, if possible, with one of the following fillings:
Lemon juice and caster sugar
Bananas with toffee
Cream and maple syrup
Grated or crumbled cheese
Shredded salmon with capers and red onion
Spinach, bacon and mushroom
For more information about Irish pancakes and the Irish tradition of Pancake Tuesday, please visit these websites http://www.joe.ie/home/dumb-it-down/what-is-pancake-tuesday-noseriously-0021257-1