24 February 2009

Shrove Tuesday - Pancake Day

Today is Shrove Tuesday and this means it's Pancake Day - so a blog post about pancakes!

Shrove Tuesday is the feast day before the first day of Lent, the period of fasting that traditionally precedes Easter. Pancakes would have been used as a way to use up all of the eggs and fat in the house before observing a period of fasting. These days very few people actually fast during Lent (although the tradition of giving something up for Lent still survives) but that doesn't stop us from enjoying pancakes

Here's a basic recipe for the pancakes, and some ideas for fillings:

Pancake Batter
225g plain flour

pinch of salt
2 eggs
400-500ml milk

Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs. Next take a whisk or fork and start whisking the eggs, gradually incorporating the flour as you go. Then start adding the milk gradually, beating well and making sure that all of the flour is mixed in. Stop when the batter has the consistency of single cream and leave the batter to stand, covered and in a cool place, for 30 minutes-2 hours.

To cook the pancakes, you'll need a non-stick frying pan. Get the pan hot and then turn the heat down to medium. Add a little oil, melted butter or lard, making sure that the whole base of the pan is greased. Give the batter a stir and then spoon some into the hot pan (use a ladle or small cup to make it easier) and immediately turn the pan from side to side, swirling the batter around to cover the base of the pan evenly. You can tip any excess back into the bowl of batter.

Cook on the first side for about 30 seconds - you can check if the underside is cooked by lifting an edge with a fish slice or palette knife - and then flip over to cook the second side. If you're feeling brave, why not have a go at tossing the pancake?

The second side will only take a few seconds to brown, and then you can slide the pancake out to a plate. Either serve each pancake as it cooks or stack them on a plate with greaseproof paper in between each pancake if you prefer. Keep them warm in a low oven or over a pan of simmering water, with a tent of foil over them.

Please make sure children are well supervised when near the cooker / hot oil and frying pans.

The Toppings

A sprinkling of caster sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice
Chocolate spread
Sliced Banana with ice cream
Golden Syrup
Chopped ham and grated cheese
Or use 'ice cream sauces'

So - learning and pancakes...

Making pancakes - this involves many fine motor skills; pouring /scooping the flour and milk, cracking the eggs, stirring the batter, ladling the batter into a pan, flipping the pancake and then squeezing lemons, sprinkling sugar or spreading on syrup or chocolate spread. Not forgetting the numeracy skills of measuring / wieghing / counting the pancakes (or cutting them up to practicing fractions).

Alternatively, have fun making pretend pancakes using rolling out play dough (or colour and cut out the ones on our Resources page) and flip pancakes in a frying pan to your hearts content!

Shrove Tuesday is also well known for Marfdi Gras carnivals so get creative, make opulent hats and masks sticking on coloured feathers, shiny paper shapes and sprinkling with glitter. When finished bang drums, shake shakers and jingle bells and do a carnival dance!

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