Hooray, it’s here! Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake day! The one day in the year when pancakes taste that extra bit special. This year in honour of the tradition, I’m making spelt ricotta pancakes and serving them with fruit.
I always try and celebrate pancakes by… well…making pancakes (because really any reason to have pancakes is an opportunity not to be missed). I never have really thought about what Pancake Day is all about though.
Shrove Tuesday is, of course, the last day before Lent. A day to feast and to celebrate before the sober restraint and penitence of the six weeks leading up to Easter. It’s celebrated around the world in various forms, none more famously perhaps as Mardi Gras, and with Rio de Janeiro celebrating to the same end, but encompassing more days.
With the Christian belief and traditions surrounding Lent pretty widely known, I was really interested to read that similar traditions predating the Christian celebration, were being celebrated as an ushering in of the spring. I found the following on Wikipedia:
“Some suggest that the Pancake Tuesday was originally a pagan holiday. Before the Christian era, the Slavs believed that the change of seasons was a struggle between Jarilo, the god of vegetation, fertility and springtime, and the evil spirits of cold and darkness. People believed that they had to help Jarilo fight against winter and bring in the spring. The most important part of Maslenitsa week (the whole celebration of the arrival of spring lasted one week) was making and eating pancakes. The hot, round pancakes symbolized the sun. The Slavs believed that by eating pancakes, they got the power, light and warmth of the sun. The first pancake was usually put on a window for the spirits of the ancestors. On the last day of Maslenitsa week some pancakes and other food were burnt in a bonfire as a sacrifice to the pagan gods.”
I love the idea that eating pancakes could bring us the light and warmth of the sun. One more excuse to make pancakes! (As if I needed one…)
As for the spelt ricotta pancakes, this was one type I’d never made before, but I found a recipe for ricotta pancakes made with white flour on Nigella Lawson’s site. Ever since discovering how easy it is to make your own ricotta at home, I’ve been a tad obsessed with this lovely creamy cheese and have been including it in everything. In fact, that the blog has not been awash with ricotta recipes is down to self imposed restraint. I also decided to make these with spelt because it has been my absolute favourite and go-to flour for some time now (I think I’m on a bit of a spelt-spree lately).
I’ve served these pancakes with some tinned peaches but you could really serve them with what every you’d like. Any kind of fruit, fruit compote, coulis, or jam would be lovely, but so would some simple maple syrup. A drizzle of ricotta vanilla cream would be really lovely with these too! (I clearly the ricotta self-restraint is wavering a bit!)
I think it’s pretty safe to say that there’s little chance that I’ll be fasting for Lent I’m afraid, but today I will celebrate the season with these spelt ricotta pancakes any way, and I hope that you can spend the day celebrating with pancakes too! The first celebration of the coming of spring!
- 125g or 1/3 cup ricotta
- 105ml or 1/3 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 2tsp maple syrup
- 75g or 1/2 cup whole spelt flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- A pinch of salt
- Oil for brushing the pan
- Heat a griddle or large, heavy frying pan over medium heat. Brush it with oil and leave it to heat up while you prepare the batter.
- Meanwhile, combine the ricotta, milk, egg and maple syrup in a jug or large bowl. Whisk well until evenly combined and fairly smooth.
- In a separate large bowl, measure out the flour, baking soda,and salt and mix until well combined.
- Slowly pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients whisking as you go. Beat the mixture well until you have a fairly smooth batter.
- Once the griddle or pan is hot, working in batches ladle batter onto to it. Leave to cook for 3-5 minutes on the first side, until bubbles have formed on the top side and the under side is golden and cooked. Carefully flip the pancakes over and continue to cook a further 3-5 minutes on the other side until it too is golden and cooked. Repeat with the remaining batter.
- Serve hot with fruit and a dollop of yogurt, or with fruit compote or maple syrup.