Today is “Pancake Tuesday” in Ireland. And while I love pancakes, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that this day always conjures up hilarious thoughts and images of pancake feeds and chicken booyah in church basements across small town America. This is just the way my mind works. I must always have one identifying American memory matched up to one Irish living reality. Forgive me…it helps with homesickness.
Pancake Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday is a not a national bank holiday, but it is widely recognized throughout the State. And it has an extremely large following in farmhouses across the country. Ok, maybe just our farmhouse. But seriously, everyone seems to jump on the bandwagon. The tradition is that pancakes and doughnuts were associated with the day preceding Lent because they were a way to use up rich foodstuffs such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. The liturgical fasting emphasized eating plainer food and refraining from food that would give pleasure. In many cultures, this means no meat, dairy, or eggs. So, as you know, anything to do with Christianity here must be absolutely obeyed. (or you could very possibly go here) And even though I’m not really a religious person, give me an excuse to eat pancakes or doughnuts all day and I promise I will take you up on it, no questions asked.
Irish pancakes are a little different than the gigantic fluffy buttermilk variety in the USA. You can actually eat more than one because they are dainty. More like crepes which can be filled with loads of yummy surprises: lightly sweetened with a drizzle of lemon and a pinch of sugar; richly slathered with chocolate or toffee sauce and fresh cream; spread with raspberry or strawberry preserves and sprinkled with icing sugar; generously lined with smooth Nutella butter, savoury and filled with soft cheese and boiled ham; potato-y with a bit of sour cream and stewed apple….the list goes on and on and they are all oh..so… divine.
Here is a gorgeous recipe for Irish Pancakes from Donal Skehan’s The Good Mood Food blog:
Makes 12-14 pancakes
110g of plain flour.
A pinch of salt.
2 large eggs.
200ml of milk.
75ml of water.
2 tablespoons of melted butter.
Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl and with a spoon make a well in the center. Break the eggs into the well and using a whisk slowly incorporate them with the flour. Don’t worry too much about lumps as they should disappear when you add the rest of the liquid. Gradually add the milk and water until you have a light batter. Heat a little butter in your frying pan over a hot heat, and add 2 tablespoons of melted butter to the batter, stir through to combine. Add a ladle full of the batter to the hot pan and move from side to side until it evenly covers the surface of the pan. Reduce the heat and cook for about a minute each side or until the batter begins to take a nice golden colour. Feel free to try your hand at flipping half way through!
Serve straight away with your filling of choice, or try the classic filling of lemon juice and sugar. You can cook all the batter off and save the pancakes for later. Simply layer the crepes on top each other, cover with some cling film and store in the fridge. They should heat up well in a microwave.
Make some for dinner tonite!
Happy Pancake Tuesday,
photo courtesy of Donal Skehan of The Good Mood Food blog