It’ll soon be Pancake Day – that has “creped” up on us (groan) – and for many of us that will mean flipping good fun and yummy, tasty treats.
In the Church’s calendar, Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day as it is known just about everywhere, is a Christian feast day. The expression “shrove” or “shrive” means “to confess” and it was a day celebrated in the Middle Ages when people would confess their sins and receive redemption before the beginning of Lent.
As well as penitence, Shrove Tuesday was also a day to eat all your favourite fatty foods before the beginning of Lent (the “Lenten fast”) – the 40 days before Easter in which Christians traditionally shunned indulgence and reflected instead on what they needed to do to better people.
Stuck to the ceiling?
Whether the spiritual origins of Pancake Day mean anything to you or not, it has still become a feature of our national culinary calendar. What family does not have tales of over-enthusiastically tossed pancakes being stuck to the ceiling or hungrily gobbled by an opportunist dog?
Whilst at Your East Sussex we think it’s tough to beat the simple and traditional lemon and sugar, to add a bit of variety and creativity to this year’s pancake menu we asked former BBC Masterchef Champion, widely respected French cuisine expert, and East Sussex resident, Peter Bayless, for a couple of Pancake Day recipe ideas. He suggested the following yummy alternatives – one savoury, one sweet.
Pancake Day recipes
The savoury one: Gluten-free buckwheat pancakes with mushrooms, Gruyere cheese and eggs
“By no means ‘fine dining’, but this is a dish for breakfast, brunch, lunch or supper that never fails to please. I first came across this culinary delight in, of all places, a motorway service area café near Lyon.”
The ingredients you will need for 4 large servings:
For the pancakes:
120g buckwheat flour
60g gluten-free plain flour
Teaspoon fast acting dried yeast
Pinch of salt
One egg, lightly beaten
200ml warm water
Olive oil or melted butter for frying
For the filling:
4 large eggs
150g grated Gruyere cheese
200g chestnut mushrooms, roughly sliced
25g butter for frying
Salt, freshly milled black pepper and chopped parsley.
Place the two flours into a bowl and mix in the dried yeast. Place the salt to one side of the bowl and make a well in the flours. Whisk together the egg and milk and pour into the well. Mix slowly from the centre outwards and as the mixture gets dry begin to add the warm water a little at a time whisking continuously until a smooth creamy batter is achieved. Cover and set aside in a warm place for at least an hour. The mixture will increase in volume and become frothy on top.
Cook the mushrooms in butter until tender and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
Lightly grease a frying pan with butter or olive oil and place over a moderate heat. Stir the batter before pouring in enough to cover the base of the pan with a thin layer. Cook until it begins to set and brown at the edges. Flip over and immediately break an egg into the centre. As the white begins to set, scatter grated Gruyere over the white, but do not cover the yolk.
Fold up the four sides of the pancake to make a square, leaving the yolk showing. Slide out onto a pre-heated plate and scatter with cooked mushrooms and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.
You can be creative and change the recipe with alternative fillings such as: spinach, onion and feta, salmon and courgette, ham and eggs, roasted squash with walnuts and Parmesan, etc.
The sweet one: Crêpes Suzette
“This is the easy way to turn the humble pancake into a luscious five star dessert.” Peter says, “For many they may seem like a dash back in time to the 60s, but for me they represent the moment in a hotel in France when I discovered the meaning of ‘fine dining’.
“They are simple to recreate at home and they don’t have to be dripping in booze to be delicious…”
Ingredients to make 6 large crêpes
150g plain flour
2 medium eggs
40g melted butter
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Lightly beat the eggs and whisk into the flour. Gradually add the milk in a thin stream, whisking all the time until you reach the consistency of thin single cream. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
Whisk ¾ of the melted butter into the batter and use a little of the remaining butter to grease a non-stick frying pan.
Heat the pan over a moderate heat and pour in enough of the batter to cover the base of the pan in a thin layer. Tip the pan around to spread the batter before it begins to set. When set and starting to brown at the edges, flip over to cook the other side for a few moments. Turn out onto a plate and cover with a sheet of baking parchment. Continue like this until all the crêpes are cooked.
Ingredients for the sauce
The juice of two large oranges
Zest of an orange, finely grated
Segments of orange with skin and pith removed
Juice and finely grated zest of a lemon
Heaped tablespoon of caster sugar
50g unsalted butter
100ml Cognac, Cointreau or Grand Marnier (optional)
Mix together the orange juice and zest with the lemon juice and zest, sugar and half the alcohol. Melt the butter on a large frying pan then add the sauce and warm through. Place the crêpes, one at a time into the sauce, warm through, then flip over before folding in half, then in half again. Carry on like this until all the crêpes are done. Add the chopped orange segments to the pan.
Serve the crêpes on very hot plates, topped with pieces of orange. Heat the remaining alcohol in a ladle. Set alight and pour the flaming alcohol over the crêpes in front of your guests.
Note: The dish may be prepared without alcohol if preferred.