Pancake Day

Pancake Day

Pancake Day is on a different date every year and is a celebration unique to the UK. Read the text and find out why British people celebrate with pancakes.

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. 

Why pancakes?

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
300ml milk
15ml of oil, plus extra for frying
a pinch of salt

  1. 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.
  2. Leave the batter to rest for 30 minutes if you have time.
  3. Put a medium-size frying pan over medium heat and put a little oil in the pan.
  4. 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. 
  5. Cook the pancakes for one minute on each side until they are golden.
  6. Serve the pancakes warm with the topping you like best. 


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Submitted by iso on Wed, 06/03/2019 - 09:07

as for me Pancake is best mean for breakfast.I eat pancake as a breakfast with honey or batter.I suprised for British people commonly topping lemon .I have never eat it with lemon.I would try some day .In my country people prefer love rice.We don't eat pancake so much. also I suprised people eat egg so often.On average I eat eggs three time of week.I know Egg has a lot of protein,Instead of having a egg I drink milk so much.

Submitted by Gus2019 on Wed, 06/03/2019 - 00:10

It´s a interesting tradition. I didn't know about pancakes in Uk, but now I know the principal reason, 40 days before easter, the people from UK celebrate Pancake Day. I wondering how is the taste of pancake with lemon and sugar on the top of them, it´s the most popular topping in Uk. I prefer chocolate with some of honey.

Submitted by Leo on Sun, 03/03/2019 - 23:33

What can I say about it? It is so delicious.

Submitted by ADELE on Fri, 01/03/2019 - 13:31

My best topping is chocolate, sometimes i top on with honey or jam. In my country we usually do crepes and we eat sometimes at breakfast.
I have the same topping in my pancakes. We don't named as Pancakes but we named as "Tortilla de huevo" and yes. We eat often at breakfast and dinner. Although it is not common because people from my country prefer to eat bread for breakfast.

Submitted by Lichtlein on Thu, 28/02/2019 - 11:27

I was curious to know that most popular British topping for pancakes is lemon with sugar. As for me, I prefer as a topping sour cream most of all, sometimes it could be honey or soft boiled eggs mixed with some butter and salt. But the last topping is better to eat with American pancakes, which are puffy and prepared with using yeast. But anyway, which ever topping you prefer, it is a tasty dish, meanwhile it is a nice old tradition to follow.
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Submitted by MAO on Thu, 28/02/2019 - 03:10

Because pancakes aren't the traditional food in Taiwan, I hardly can point out what the best pancake topping is. The preferred-flavor depends on various people. As for me, i would like to choose lemon juice and sugar, the most popular topping. That is because i like the fresh taste and smell of lemon, and that will be good to mix it with some sweetness, which make me feel like falling in love....