Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercises.
Americans are often surprised to hear that British people have a special day in celebration of pancakes. After all, American pancakes are a typical breakfast or brunch meal. However, pancakes in the UK are much thinner than American pancakes because they don't use baking powder, so they are not fat and fluffy and, instead, are more like French crepes.
Pancake Day is actually another name for Shrove Tuesday, which takes place 40 days before Easter Sunday and marks the start of Lent. In some other countries this day is called Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, because it's when people ate all the good things for the last time before starting 40 days of religious fasting for Lent. Milk, eggs and oil or butter might not seem special nowadays, but hundreds of years ago they were one of the few ways of turning a basic recipe of flour and water into something richer.
The pancake bell
As well as using all their eggs and fats before Lent, people would also go to church to confess their sins to a priest. A bell used to ring at about 11 o'clock in the morning to remind people to cook their luxury ingredients and go to confession. This bell became known as the pancake bell. In Olney in Buckinghamshire, the town celebrates with a tradition that started in 1445 when a woman heard the bell while she was making pancakes. She ran out of the house to get to church in time for confession while she was still holding the hot pan with the pancake inside. As she ran, she tossed the pancake to flip it over and over again so that it wouldn't burn. Today, in Olney and some other towns across the UK, pancake races are held, where the racers all run and toss pancakes down the street.
Pancake Day in numbers
On average, British people eat two pancakes per person on Pancake Day (though plenty of people will have three or four at least) which means 117 million pancakes will be eaten in one day. On a normal day, Brits eat 30 million eggs per day, but on Pancake Day that goes up to 52 million eggs and enough milk to fill more than 93 Olympic swimming pools. While some people might put chocolate spread or syrup on their pancakes, the most popular topping, by far, is lemon juice and sugar. But instead of the fine white sugar you put on top of cakes, British people use the same kind of sugar they put in their tea. If you want to try making British-style pancakes today, here's a simple recipe:
To make about 12 pancakes you need:
100g plain flour
2 large eggs
15ml of oil, plus extra for frying
a pinch of salt
- Put the flour, milk, oil and pinch of salt into a bowl. Whisk them together, then add the eggs and whisk again until you have a smooth liquid called batter.
- Leave the batter to rest for 30 minutes if you have time.
- Put a medium-size frying pan over medium heat and put a little oil in the pan.
- When the oil is hot, pour a large spoonful of batter into the pan and move the pan so that the batter covers the bottom of the pan.
- Cook the pancakes for one minute on each side until they are golden.
- Serve the pancakes warm with the topping you like best.