Not sure if the February tradition of pancake day is a global event or just something we Brits do. Anyway I guess it’s a throw back to when Christianity was widely practiced on this island of ours and in the run up to lent and its forty days of fasting people would stuff their faces on Shrove Tuesday the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of lent. Although the eating of pancakes is thought to be a pagan tradition where pan cakes were eaten as symbolic suns.
English pancakes are more like French crepes not as thick as the American version (although I believe the Scots have pancakes similar or the same as the US version). We whip up plain flour, egg, milk, water and a pinch of salt, lightly grease a very very hot frying pan, drop a helping of batter in, swirl it around, watch the colour change and then we toss to the other side. Taking just seconds to achieve perfectly cooked pancakes we slide them onto a plate and traditionally add a sprinkle of sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice and we scoff as many as we can. Again traditionally we would do this around tea or afternoon tea time before dinner.
When I was a kid it was the only day and time of year that we would ever eat pancakes so it was a nice prompt to get to action and make a heap.
Nowadays some of us have modernised the consuming of pancakes but many still stick to that age old tradition of thin home made pancakes with lemon and sugar. In modern times we have folk buying batter mixes and ready made pancakes. Toppings are an anything goes arena from nutella to peanut butter, jam, fruit ice cream, cream and savoury fillings.
Of course pancakes are not the absolute healthiest of foods but they’re not exactly the worst either. They contain egg and milk which contain so many fab nutrients as well as protein, if you use a good non stick pan the amount of oil required is minimal, a squirt if reduced calorie and fat fry spray is all it takes to stop them sticking and to ensure a nice golden colour. If filled with fresh fruits especially a mix of berries and topped off with a blob of fat free fromage frais and a really light dust of icing sugar they are acceptable as an afternoon tea treat or a once a year Shrove Tuesday celebration dessert.
I did the pancake day thing yesterday and we all managed to content ourselves with one large pancake each about a nine inch diameter and I managed to get them ultra thin but strong enough to contain some hefty topping when rolled (you’re either a flat, rolled, folded or layered pancake eater and I’m a roller). There was more good in those pancakes than bad and that’s a good way to look at rare treat foods. Keep in mind moderation and balance between nutrition and indulgent empty calories and a little of what you fancy is just fine.
Also keep it real one skinny pancake filled with a mix of berries is not going to put ten pounds on you so don’t deprive yourself of normality and don’t beat yourself up about indulging. These changes are for life and who could live with never having a pancake again ever? Totally unrealistic isn’t it?