Pancake Day 2016: how to make a perfect pancake
Never mind its origins in self-denial, here's the recipe for the perfect feast
For such a simple dish, pancakes have inspired a bewildering array of variation when it comes to recipes, methods and fillings. From paper-thin French crepes eaten sweet or savoury to Indian dosas, stout Scotch pancakes spread with butter and jam and the fluffy buttermilk variety that Americans enjoy with bacon, maple syrup and whipped cream, there's a pancake for any time of the day.
Mary Berry's classic recipe
Queen of baking Mary has a quick and easy three-ingredient pancake recipe.
125g plain flour
1 egg and 1 yolk
Sift flour into a bowl and make a well in the middle. Whisk together one egg, one yolk and a little milk taken from the 300ml then pour into the well and whisk.
Gradually add remaining milk to make a smooth batter. Cover and leave to stand for about 30 minutes.
Heat the frying pan and brush with a little oil. Ladle two or three tablespoons of batter into the pan and cook over a medium-high heat for 45-60 seconds until small holes appear on the surface and the edge has started to curl. Loosen the pancake and turn it over by tossing or flipping with a palette knife. Cook the other side for about 30 seconds until golden.
Jamie Oliver's crepe recipe
Jamie's Normandy style buckwheat pancakes are not for the faint-hearted, with a great deal more butter and a slosh of cider.
3 free range eggs
100g butter, melted, plus a knob to grease the crepe pan
250g buckwheat flour
Beat the eggs and then add the butter, cider, water and a pinch of salt. Sift in the flour while beating and then allow the mixture to rest for 30 minutes. Heat a large pan and add a ladleful of batter, tilting the pan to spread, and cook until it starts to bubble. Loosen the edges and turn or flip the pancake. Serve with sweet or savoury fillings.
If you fancy something a bit different, you could try frying up a stack of US-style pancakes, delicious with anything from maple syrup and bacon to yoghurt and blueberries.
Nigella's American breakfast pancakes
Nigella blitzes the perfect US pancakes.
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
2 large eggs (beaten)
30g butter (melted and cooled)
225g plain flour
Butter for frying
Put the ingredients into a blender and blitz or, if mixing by hand, make a well in the dry ingredients, then beat in the eggs, melted butter and milk and transfer to a jug.
Heat a smooth griddle or pan on the stove.
When you cook the pancakes, all you need to remember is that when the upper side of the pancake is blistering and bubbling, it's time to cook the second side and this needs only about one minute, if that.
Perfect pancake tips
Don't restrict yourself to the trust old standby of lemon and sugar when it comes to toppings, says the Daily Mirror. The newspaper suggests combos such as peanut butter and banana or ice cream and peaches to liven up your Pancake Day delicacies.
Meanwhile, ITV News goes down a more practical route, with a list of tips from the Fire and Rescue service, which warns that more than half of domestic fires start in the kitchen.
So what should you do if your pan catches fire? Don't try to move it and don't throw water on it. Turn the hob off, if it is safe to do so, put a lid on the pan if you can and if the fire is getting out of control, get out of the house and call 999.
Pancake Day 2016: How Shrove Tuesday is celebrated around the world
Millions of Brits will be tucking into pancakes in honour of Shrove Tuesday. Whether covered in the traditional sugar and lemon or something a bit more exotic, pancakes have been eaten to mark the onset of Lent for hundreds of years. But they are not the only tradition associated with the festival, which has a long and interesting history.
Why do we eat pancakes on Pancake Day?
Pancake Day – more traditionally known as Shrove Tuesday - is a Christian celebration that falls on the eve of Lent, a 40-day period of penance through fasting.
Shrove Tuesday’s name comes from the old middle-English verb "to shrive", which means to confess one's sins. During the Middle Ages, Christians would go to church before midday on Shrove Tuesday and ask God for absolution before the start of Lent. The day also gave them the opportunity to feast on all the indulgent foods that were going to be prohibited over the next 40 days.
During Lent, Christians were historically encouraged to eat only one meal per day and abstain altogether from some foods, most commonly meat. In the Middle Ages, all animal products were forbidden so as this outlawed butter and eggs, pancakes were a simple way to use up any remaining supplies.
Although the tradition of fasting has fallen out of fashion among all but a handful of Brits, the custom of feasting on pancakes, often with sweet fillings, remains alive and well.
How is the date determined?
Pancake Day comes 40 days before Easter Sunday, which means it can fall on any date between 3 February and 9 March. With Easter Sunday this year falling on 27 March, Pancake Day 2016 falls towards the start of the date range.
Here are the dates for the next five years:
2016 - 9 February
2017 - 28 February
2018 - 13 February
2019 - 5 March
2020 - 25 February
British Pancake Day traditions
The pancake race: While most people are content to eat pancakes, some also use them for sport. Pancake races, which sees runners race down streets flipping a pancake in a frying pan, are held in towns and villages throughout the UK. The tradition is said to have originated in Olney, Berkshire, where the earliest recorded race was in 1445.
Shrovetide football: Also known as mob football, this is not for the faint-hearted. The game is thought to have emerged in the Middle Ages and is still played on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday in Ashbourne, Derbyshire.
It involves an unlimited number of players on each team trying to move a large ball towards the goal by any means possible. The Ashbourne game is played over two days, starting each day at 2pm and finishing at 10pm.
Pancake Day around the world
From Italy to Brazil, Mardi Gras and Carnival have become synonymous with masks, costumes, dancing and huge parades. The French name Mardi Gras translates into English as Fat Tuesday, which once again refers to the consumption of fatty foods before the start of Lent.
Mardi Gras is celebrated in several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, France, Italy and Sweden, but the biggest celebrations now take place in the Americas.
Mardi Gras celebrations are believed to have begun in the US in 1699, after two French explorers landed in today's Louisiana. The explorers held a small celebration and dubbed the landing spot Point du Mardi Gras.
New Orleans now plays host to the largest celebrations, attracting millions of people every year. A number of other cities in the US, especially those with French or Spanish heritage, also celebrate the holiday.
The Brazilian Carnival, by far the biggest holiday in the country, runs for five days in the run-up to Shrove Tuesday. Rio de Janeiro’s event attracts almost five million people, while as a whole, Carnival attracts 70 per cent of the country’s annual visitors.
Nevertheless, this festival also derives from a tradition of abstention: the word carnival comes from the Latin "carnelevamen", which means "to remove meat".