Pancakes are traditional Fat Tuesday fare

Come Tuesday, if you aren't marching in a parade or eating a King cake in celebration of Carnival or Mardi Gras, there's a good chance you'll be eating pancakes.

That is the other traditional food of Fat Tuesday.

Also known as Shrove Tuesday, the eve before Ash Wednesday has long been the day to empty the larders and feast with friends before the austere and self-sacrificing season of Lent begins.

According to Wikipedia, many Christians eat pancakes on this day because they are made from sugar, fat, flour and eggs. Consumption of those were traditionally restricted during the liturgical fasting of Lent, which emphasized plainer food that gave no pleasure. In Hampton Roads, many churches will be holding special pancake suppers this Tuesday. Some are intimate affairs where the regular parishioners gather to enjoy each other's company and a plate of warm deliciousness before the solemn 40 days leading up to Easter. Others open their doors to any who wish to partake.

But anyone can have a Shrove Tuesday supper of cakes cooked on the stove top and served up in all their savory or sweet goodness. A Facebook shoutout for recipes recently yielded an amazing variety of favorites, including savory potato pancakes, silver-dollar sized poffertjes from the Netherlands, thin and delicate offerings served with lemon from Britain and even your favorite American fare drowning in melted butter and maple syrup.

And they offered to share their favorites. Enjoy!

Poffertjes (Dutch pancakes)

1 cup plain flour, sifted

1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Salt, to taste

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup water

2 eggs, whisked

A few drops of vanilla extract, optional

Oil, for brushing the pan

Combine flour and baking powder. Mix in sugar and salt.

Pour in milk, water. Combine with a balloon whisk. Add the eggs. Don't over stir anyway, and avoid from producing gluten inside the batter, just combine all ingredients. Rest for 10 minutes.

Turn on the electric pancake pan according to the manufactory's instructions. Brush a bit of oil on the pan. Pour in about one tablespoon of batter into each hole. When bubbles appear, bottoms turn lightly brown, use a skew or needle to flip over and cook the other side. They should be cooked until both sides are golden brown. Transfer onto a serving plate, served with maple syrup or honey, sprinkle icing sugar on top.

Recommended by former Newport News resident Elizabeth MacGahan. Recipe from christinesrecipes.com at http://tinyurl.com/6og3ob8

Cindy Mikelaites of New Kent County said it was her family's Catholic tradition to serve savory potato pancakes with applesauce and sour cream on the side.

Here is her family recipe:

Potato Pancakes

2 pounds (4 cups shredded) potatoes

1 egg

1/3 -1/2 cup chopped onion

3 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon salt

Beat the egg, mix in potatoes, onion, flour and salt. Shape the potato mixture into patties and cook over medium heat in a greased pan. Serve with applesauce and/or sour cream. This makes about eight pancakes. "Mom would double or triple the recipe if she was serving it as the main dish for one of our meatless dinners," Mikelaites.

Cornmeal Flapjacks

2 cups buttermilk

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups cornmeal

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or butter (melted)

Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk, stir well. Combine dry ingredients; add eggs and buttermilk mixture, mix well. Add oil or butter, mixing lightly.

Spoon batter onto a hot, lightly greased griddle or skillet (cast iron is best). Turn flapjacks when tops are covered with bubbles and edges are lightly browned.

Makes: 12 to 18 flapjacks

From former Newport News resident and U.S. Navy man, Trey Whitworth.

"In the United Kingdom, some communities play games dating back to the 12th century, usually involving a ball. In some villages, Pancake Day races are held where people run through the streets tossing their pancake in a frying pan. The first race was held in 1445," says Gaynor Richards, my British cousin.

Pancakes are traditionally thin and about 8-inches wide (more like a crepe), she says.

Here's her recipe:

Shrove Tuesday pancakes with lemon

4 ounces of all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

1 egg

1/2 pint of milk

Sift the flour and pinch of salt into a bowl

Make a well in the middle and add the egg and pour in the milk. Stir and then beat to make a thin batter. Heat a good heavy frying pan, adding a little fat to coat the base. Pour in enough batter to cover the bottom, not too much as it will burn and stick! Check the underneath and when spotted brown, flip it over and cook the other side.

When cooked, turn out onto a plate, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with wedges of lemon to be squeezed over the top. Roll up and eat!

Gaynor Richards of the United Kingdom and my cousin

Several Facebook friends suggested that buttermilk pancakes are the best on Earth, which George Ackerman, owner of The Cheese Shop in Newport News, says is understandable.

"The acid in buttermilk offsets the fat that accompanies many baked goods," he says. "Everything that tastes good is a fat and an acid, salty and sweet."

Buttermilk Pancakes

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons sugar

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

3 cups buttermilk

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1/2 teaspoon for griddle

Heat griddle to 375 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, and 4 tablespoons butter; whisk to combine. Batter should have small to medium lumps.

Heat oven to 175 degrees. Test griddle by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If water bounces and spatters off griddle, it is hot enough. Using a pastry brush, brush remaining 1/2 teaspoon of butter or reserved bacon fat onto griddle. Wipe off excess.

Using a 4-ounce ladle, about 1/2 cup, pour pancake batter, in pools 2 inches away from one other. When pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around edges, about 2 1/2 minutes, flip over. Cook until golden on bottom, about 1 minute.

Repeat with remaining batter, keeping finished pancakes on a heat-proof plate in oven. Serve warm with melted butter and warmed maple syrup.

From marthastewart.com.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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