Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday which marks the start of Lent, a period of liturgical fasting for forty days.
Shrove Tuesday traditionally was a day of penitence and the last chance to feast and celebrate before Lent.
Shrove Tuesday falls on Tuesday the 8 March and is also known as Pancake Day because pancakes were made and eaten to use up rich food stuffs, like eggs and milk, prior to fasting for the period of Lent.
This has evolved in some places into competitions to toss pancakes the highest and pancake races.
For those who just want to eat pancakes,they are relatively simple to make, but like all baking can taste foul if you do not follow the correct procedures.
First of all the ideal pancake should be almost transparent, crisp and lacy at the edges and meltingly light.
If this does not sound like yours, then if you follow the following steps you should have pancakes that will fly high but also melt in the mouth.
To make 12-14 pancakes in a 7 inch (18 cm) pan or 10 pancakes in an 8 inch (20 cm) pan.
Measure 7 fl oz (200 ml) of milk and 3 fl oz (75 ml) of water in a measuring jug.
Sift 4 oz (110 g) of plain flour and a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl, with the sieve held high above the bowl so the flour gets an airing.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and break 2 large eggs into it.
Then begin whisking the eggs – any sort of whisk or even a fork will do – incorporating any bits of flour from around the edge of the bowl as you do so.
Gradually add small quantities of milk and water, still whisking (don’t worry about any lumps as they will eventually disappear as you whisk).
When all the liquid has been added, use a rubber spatula to scrape any elusive bits of flour from around the edge into the centre, then whisk once more until the batter is smooth, with the consistency of thin cream.
Pancakes should always be cooked in butter. Melt 2 oz (50 g) of butter in a pan and add 2 tablespoons of it to the batter and whisk it in.
When needed, use the butter to lubricate the pan using a wodge of kitchen paper to smear it round.
Only use the merest trace to prevent sticking – a pancake should never actually be cooked in fat.
Get the pan really hot, then turn the heat down to medium and, to start with, do a test pancake to see if you’re using the correct amount of batter.
2 tablespoons is about right for a 7 inch (18 cm) pan and 3 tablespoons for an 8 inch (20 cm) pan.
It’s also helpful if you spoon the batter into a ladle so it can be poured into the hot pan in one go.
As soon as the batter hits the hot pan, tip it around from side to side to get the base evenly coated with batter.
It should only take half a minute or so to cook; you can lift the edge with a palette knife to see if it’s tinged gold as it should be.
Flip the pancake over with a pan slice or palette knife – the other side will need a few seconds only.