Coming this Tuesday is what in Britain is called Pancake Day, Shrove Tuesday also known as Mardi Gras ( Fat Tuesday ).
Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent but the practice of pancakes at this time of the year, like many things, is traceable to pagan traditions. Pancakes being round represent the sun which is growing stronger and stronger in the northern skies. Coming out of winter and getting to the end of supplies, pancakes could be made from staples, stored items and just maybe the first eggs of the year. That said, the idea behind this kind of festival is to bring people together, to enjoy and share ” the last of the bounty” before a period of communal belt tightening ensues prior to food becoming available again.
In Russia, there is Maslenitsa.The pagan traditions of this festival, placed at Spring Equinox, celebrate the coming of spring and the end of winter. Buckwheat was the flour of choice in times past, adding a red tone to what was already, hot, round & golden. ( We are adding fire as well to this recipe with some Irish Whiskey ).
Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, it was hoped that the sun would be generous and heat the long cold days. The festival’s name comes from the word maslo which means butter and just like English it has a connection to cajole or buttering someone up. A series of steps, all designed to make the sun more amenable to bringing warmer days.
The Christian influence means it is now celebrated in the time before Lent and is a transition from eating anything you have access to, to the stricter dietary guidelines of a fast when sugar, fat, butter and eggs are forbidden. Time to use up the “good things” in the kitchen thus keeping temptation away. Carnival comes from the word carni ( as in chili con carni ) and refers to the giving up of meat through Lent. Where it is colder, the fast connects more to sugars, flours & fats.
A more European style pancake does not include leavening other than the eggs, closer to what we might think of as a crepe. I have gone with a little baking soda to work with the buttermilk in this recipe. It was my intention to combine pre-Lent decadence with older pagan traditions and throw in a nod to Ireland as St. Paddy’s Day is a comin”. For some additional information on the history of pancakes, click here.
You will need:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 – 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans ( reduce to 2 Tbsp is using bacon too )
2 Tbsp. finely chopped crisp bacon ( optional )
1 part Irish Whiskey to 2 parts real Maple syrup
Let’s start with this. If you have a favourite whole wheat buttermilk recipe, please feel free to use it. Just add the pecans &/or bacon. No problem at all. If you like spelt, here is a non wheat alternative ingredient list.
- 1 cup whole spelt flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 egg
- 3/4 – 1 cup buttermilk
Deep breath in, come into the present moment. Gather the ingredients and any helpers.
“The sun grows bolder, warmth returns, for light and pancakes my heart yearns. Goddess of the Hearth I offer, wheat, milk, eggs and firewater. Assist me please today I ask, that we may feast; in springtime bask.”
If you are adding the bacon, cook two rashers until crisp, before you begin and crumble into small bits. As with the nuts, chose a size that is right for you. If you like bigger chunks be my guest, it will make your experience chewier.
Heat your griddle or frying pan(s).
Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Stir to coat nuts and bacon if adding.
Beat the egg with a fork and add to dry ingredients. Add 1 cup buttermilk and mix.
Adding more buttermilk will give you a thinner pancake, if that is what you prefer.
Feel free to use less saturated fat options. I put this together to honour traditions and you can absolutely chose to honour your arteries. ( It is for a special occasion…)
Cook the first side until the top edges starts to dry and you can see bubbles forming and popping. Lift gently and turn over. Cook the second side. Turn only over once.
Monitor your temperature as the cooking surface will probably continue to get hotter as you cook and may need turning down. Best option is the bubbles start showing before the underside is black.
When cooking with butter, your pancakes will never have crisper edges than when they come off the griddle. If you can serve them right away all the better. If you need to cook up a supply, place the finished pancakes on a plate and hold in a heated oven while the next batch cooks.
The syrup for these yummy offerings to the Sun is a mixture of maple syrup and whiskey, One part whiskey to 2 parts maple syrup. This is the simple way and is intended for adults on a weekend morning when heading off to work is not the next thing on the to do list. Adding the whiskey will thin the maple syrup so putting it in a creamer sized pitcher is best.
If there are children at the table, straight maple syrup will work. It is also possible to reduce the whiskey in a pan and boil off the alcohol before mixing the two ingredients together. I just don’t find it worth the effort.
Stack pancakes ( the recipe makes about 10 three inch pancakes ) on a plate, top with butter ( a must, if you are going to ask for winter to be over ) and drizzle with syrup.
These may look like your grandmother’s pancakes but they are full of crunchy nuttiness and salty bacony goodness, if you choose, with a hefty splash of sweet fire.
Now, nicely ask, ” May we please see an end to all this snow and flooding?”
Pecan Buttermilk Pancakes with Whiskey Maple Sauce from My Kitchen Wand