The day before Ash Wednesday is Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Tuesday. It’s also called Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras) in some regions of the world, but for some reason that phrase makes me giggle. Or defensive, depending on how many helpings of mac and cheese I just had.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season, a time associated with abstinence, penance, and reflection. So Shrove Tuesday was a last hurrah of sorts, kinda like polishing off the rest of that chocolate cake late Sunday night before starting a Monday diet. (Not that I’d know anything about that.)
It’s fairly easy to see the connection between the festivities of Mardi Gras right before the start of a season of ritual fasting. But what does all this have to do with pancakes in particular, you ask? Traditionally, the list of foods restricted during Lent included animal products like milk, butter, and eggs. Hmmm. Let me see. What can you make with milk, butter, and eggs? (Other than scrambled eggs or souffles, smarty pants.)
If you’re planning to give up chocolate for Lent, you might want to let pancakes do double duty and use up your chocolate in the same dish, too. And if you’re not giving up chocolate for Lent, that means you can make these everyday! (And then please invite me over everyday. I promise I won’t call you smarty pants again.)
While we’re at it, why not go for broke and make pancakes decadent enough for dessert? Pancakes that taste like cookies, cake, pastries—we’ve got your sweet tooth covered. (I’m coming over for these, too, okay?)
If you’d rather go a different (and less sinful) route, how about some berries and, say, ricotta cheese or cottage cheese? If you haven’t tried ricotta pancakes yet, you gotta. You just gotta. Ricotta pancakes are moist and tender, and they go really well with berries. Or lemon. Or a side of bacon and sausage, for that matter.
For those feeling a bit adventurous, take a walk on the wild side with some non-traditional pancake ingredients. Spelt flour, oatmeal, protein powder, and even avocado—they all get their turn on the griddle.
Speaking of non-traditional, you can swap out that main pancake ingredient—wheat flour—and make gluten-free versions, too. Almond flour is a good substitute, and so is coconut flour. And if you do try a coconut flour version, don’t wonder if the flour measurement is off. Coconut flour is so high in fiber and absorbs so much moisture that you only need a bit of it to prepare your batter. You can experiment with other nut flours, too!
(Note: the coconut flour pancakes on the upper right corner are not gluten-free because they contain spelt flour.)
And finally, we have German pancakes, also known as Dutch babies. These are cool to make with the kids, who’ll get a kick out of watching the pancake inflate in the oven.
Whatever you call them in your neck of the woods—hotcakes, flapjacks, crêpes, Bismarcks, griddlecakes—pancakes are definitely one of breakfast’s top comfort foods. They’re much more than just a way to use up pantry surplus, though I’m happy to have any excuse to serve pancakes all day.
Do you have any favorite pancake recipes? Secret pancake tips? (Here’s mine: I like frying pancakes in a bit of extra oil, which makes the edges extra crispy.) Share them with us!
Happy flipping, everyone!