Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day is a Christian tradition that marks the last day before Lent. The word Shrove comes from the old English word “Shrive”, meaning to confess all sins. Lent is a time of penance, where some Christians abstain from meat and dairy products for the 40 day period before Easter. The tradition of eating pancakes came about from wanting to use up forbidden ingredients such as milk, eggs and butter, before the period of abstinence commenced.
Today, Pancake Day is celebrated in many households, with families spending time together tucking into pancakes and people carrying out fun activities across the UK, such as pancake races. Pancake Day is also celebrated in other parts of the world, such as Brazil where it is celebrated with the Mardi Gras festival.
Pancakes are incredibly diverse. You can make sweet or savoury toppings, anything to suit your palette. Some of my favourite toppings include, lemon and sugar; a drizzle of silky maple syrup sauce with unsalted butter; melted nutella with mashed bananas; salted caramel sauce with crunchy pecan nuts; and blueberries with a dollop of velvety vanilla crème fraiche. What are your favourite toppings?
This year, Pancake Day will fall on Tuesday 4 March 2014. To celebrate the tradition, I wanted to share with you my recipe for American buttermilk pancakes. The addition of cardamom powder in this batter, paired with a drizzle of sour cherry sauce, makes these thick, fluffy pancakes a delicious breakfast treat.
Makes 8 pancakes
For the pancakes
- 250 grams plain flour
- 300 millilitres buttermilk
- 50 grams butter, melted, plus extra for frying
- 1 egg
- 4 tablespoons caster sugar
- 1 heaped teaspoon cardamom powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
For the cherry sauce
- 125 grams morello cherries in syrup
- 125 millilitres water
- Generous pinch of ginger powder
- 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
- ½ lime juice (optional)
- Buttermilk is available in most supermarkets. Alternatively, you can make it at home by adding a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to 300 millilitres of milk. Leave the mixture to stand for five minutes before using in your recipe.
- Most Asian supermarkets sell ground cardamom powder. However, if you cannot get hold this, you can use 5-6 green cardamom pods. Remove the black seeds and discard the green pods. You can pound these cardamom seeds in a pestle and mortar until they form a fine powder, or grind them in a coffee grinder.
- I like my cherry sauce to be quite sour, hence the addition of the lime juice. If you prefer a slightly sweeter sauce, omit the lime.
- Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and ground cardamom powder in a large bowl and mix well.
- Add the eggs, milk and melted butter to the bowl and whisk until you have a smooth batter. Try not to over mix the batter, a few smallish size lumps are ok but try and remove any big lumps with the whisk.
- Place a small or medium sized non-stick frying pan over high heat. Once the pan is really hot, turn the heat down to medium and brush some melted butter all over the pan. Pour a small amount of the batter on to the hot pan – I use a ladle to ensure my pancakes always end up the same size. Let the pancake batter cook on one side. When the batter begins to bubble, flip the pancake and cook the other side.
- Repeat until you have used up the batter.
- To make the cherry sauce, add all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and place on high heat. Mix well. Let the mixture bubble until it turns into a sauce consistency.
- Pour over the pancakes and serve immediately.