Pancake Day, Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras – wherever you are in the world and whatever you choose to call it there is one glorious constant: pancakes!
This glorious feast day before Ash Wednesday was traditionally the last opportunity to use up eggs and fats before embarking on the Lenten fast; and as any good cook knows, pancakes are the perfect way of using up these essential ingredients.
In our house, Scotch pancakes (or drop scones) were the order of the day, made on a huge, cast iron griddle pan that first belonged to my granny, and later, my mum. To look at it, it resembled some sort of medieval torture instrument and with its mysterious ways, it only ever came out of the cupboard once a year! It was a fascinating spectacle for two wee boys. By number four you somehow connect with the pan and become a production line of pleasure
First, a simple batter of flour, eggs and milk was mixed together ready for dropping in perfect wee circles onto the smoking hot pan. Before too long, piles and piles of small round cakes had piled up under an old tea towel, the mesmerising smell wafting out as each batch of three was placed on top.
Some of you will have been more a crepe household; thin, wide pancakes from our French cousins. Perfect for folding into quarters, sticky with lemon juice and sugar. But I am a simple man when it comes to my pancakes. For me it has to be Scotch, and it has to be golden syrup. Lee and I will often make a batch for ourselves as we prep, and I can easily inhale 5 or 6 smothered in the sugary confection.
Of course, as the 80s morphed into the 90s Teflon pans took over and allowed for a non-stick practice and more elaborate tossing! Nevertheless, as everyone knows, the first three pancakes are always a disaster but by number four you somehow connect with the pan and become a production line of pleasure.
Nowadays, there are as many different flours and methods for making pancakes as there are dietary requirements. Buckwheat is perfect for gluten free people and its nutty flavour makes it an ideal base for savoury crepes. Add a banana instead of egg and milk for a dairy free, vegan version too. I am a simple man when it comes to my pancakes
When it comes to impressive Shrove Tuesday dishes, you can’t beat hot smoked salmon and crowdie with a squeeze of lemon and sprinkling of chopped chives rolled up in a buckwheat crepe. Follow this with sweet Scotch Pancakes like your granny used to make, topped with mashed banana, pecan nuts and butternut sauce and I guarantee it doesn’t matter what pan you’ve used to create them – you’ll be the star of the show!
You may be equally as happy with butter and jam – or if you’re really feeling like a blowout, a gooey mess of a microwaved snickers bar. Modern life is sometimes extremely good for old traditions.
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