Tuesday, 4 March 2014

It's P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-Pancake Day

Easter is pretty late this year and so, accordingly, is Pancake Day. We love pancake day in our house and will have pancakes for breakfast, dinner and tea.
We'll start with American pancakes for breakfast, scotch pancakes for lunch and bog standard run-of- the-mill pancakes-that-need-tossing for tea (recipe down the page). I try to get some savoury fillings in there - cheese and baked beans goes down well with the kids although I prefer steamed leeks covered in a rich cheese sauce myself - but there will be plenty of sweet toppings, I'm sure.

There's an easy and reliable Scotch Pancake recipe in Picture Book Explorers - Greyfriars Bobby that we'll be using. I'm lucky enough to own a real cast iron frying pan which works amazingly well for these smaller, thicker pancakes. The pan has to be very hot and, with the added advantage of being able to use metal tools with the pan, the pancakes are easy to turn and don't stick needing the bare minimum of oil.

American pancakes are made from a cornmeal and flour mix. You can probably find cornmeal more easily if you look for it by its European name - polenta. The best recipe I found advised soaking the polenta in boiling water for about 10 minutes before adding the other ingredients. We tried different recipes but the pancakes were a bit gritty in texture,they were definitely much fluffier after a good soak.

Pancake Day is also known as Shrove Tuesday. It is the last day before Lent and people used to go to the church to  'shrive' or to confess their sins. It was customary for Christians to forego fat and eggs during Lent which runs from Ash Wednesday (the day after Pancake Day) until Easter Sunday. These days many people observe Lent by giving up chocolate or sweet things as an act of fasting. The fasting is a reminder of Christ's time in the desert where he spent 40 days and nights without food.

Pancake Day traditions still take place in Britain, such as pancake racing in Olney, Buckinghamshire and a mass football match in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, both have origins in Tudor England. In Scarborough, they skip on the promenade. They use long ropes and have up to ten people skipping on each one. They have been doing this since 1903.

Did you know that there are world records for pancakes?
Dean Gould holds the record for the most pancake tosses anyone has ever done in two minutes. He achieved 349 tosses at Felixstowe, Suffolk in 1995.
The highest ever pancake toss was performed by Dominic Cuzzacrea in November 2010. The pancake reached a height of 9.47 metres at the Walden Galleria Mall in Cheektowaga, New York, USA.
The largest pancake ever made was 15.01 metres in diameter and was 2.5 cm thick and weighed 3 tonnes. It was made in Rochdale, near Manchester, UK in 1994, by the Co-Operative Union, Ltd.
The tallest stack of pancakes was made up of 60 large round pancakes and measured 76cm tall. It broke the Guinness World Records in 2012.

One of my favourite Pancake stories is The Runaway Pancake. It's very similar to the Gingerbread Man in that the pancake in question develops a mind of its own and runs away, or rather rolls away, as fast as it can down the street. It is chased by various people and animals before meeting a pig who claims not to be able to hear its explanation of why it is rolling so fast. The clever pig asks the pancake to the speak directly into his ear, at which point the pig gobbles him up. There are many different versions of it around the world and you can read some of them here.

I hope you enjoy your Pancake Day  :)


Traditional Pancake Recipe
4oz/200g plain flour
1 egg
1/2 pt/300ml milk & water mixed together, consisting 2/3 milk to 1/3 water
A little oil for frying

Sieve flour into a large mixing bowl.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and crack the eggs into the well.
Mix with a balloon whisk.
Add the liquid a little at a time until the mixture is a medium pouring consistency.
Leave to stand for 30 mins.
Then, heat the frying pan and add a desertspoonful of oil over a medium heat.
When the oil is hot, pour a thin layer of the batter into the pan, rotating the pan to ensure it is spread evenly.
When the top is set, turn the pancake over.
Serve immediately :)

Ideas for Pancake Day fun
Hold your own pancake race, use a cooked pancake and cold pans
Try setting new World records -
- have pancake tossing competition, using a cooked pancake and a cold pan
- how many tosses can you do in 2 minutes?
- how high can yu toss that pancake?
- how many pancakes can you stack?
Invent your own pancake fillings
Get out your skipping rope and invent your own pancake day skipping rhyme
Read a pancake book (suggestions below)
Act out the story of the Big Pancake, use toy animals and a cardboard pancake
Learn the nursery rhyme with actions -
"Mix the pancake, stir the pancake, pop it in the pan,
Fry the pancake, toss the pancake, catch it if you can"
Find out about local Pancake Day traditions and do them
Adjust the above recipe for double (or more) quantities for maths practise
Cut out pancakes from thick card, they can be used for various games -
- how many can you stack?
- stick pictures or write the names of pancake ingredients on one side so that there are two of each &   use them to play pairs or snap
- put a frying pan on the floor and 'toss' your pancakes into the pan
- cut out pictures or draw your favourite toppings on the pancakes then make them to eat
- roll the pancakes on their edges, measure the distance they travel

Mr Wolf's Pancakes (Mr Wolf Series)
The Runaway Pancake: Level 4 (First Reading) (Usborne First Reading)
Ladybird Tales: The Big Pancake
Pancake Pandemonium
Mama Panya's Pancakes: A Village Tale from Kenya
Pancakes for Breakfast
Pancakes for Findus (Findus and Pettson) (Findus & Pettson)
Little Grey Rabbit's Pancake Day (The Little Grey Rabbit library)
Curious George Makes Pancakes [With CD] (Curious George - Level 1)

Jesus in the Desert cloze activity
Recipe & ordering activity 
Observing Lent activities from Christian Aid  

Pancake beanbags and more

Online Activities
Wordsearch 2
Capitals to lower case matching reading game
Anagram matching game
Word to picture matching game
Children's Book Quiz
Pancake tossing game
Pancake Day quiz
Watch a robot flip pancakes