Flippin’ Marvellous – it’s Pancake Day!

TOAST’s top tips for perfecting Pancake Day

Pancakes are always a tasty treat but one of the many joys of this month is that there is a whole day dedicated to them! So grab your ingredients, a group of friends and dust off that pan – here are TOAST’s top tips for perfecting Pancake Day.

On Tuesday 28th February homes up and down the country will getting messy – cue the egg and flour beating, furious batter whisking and adventurous pancake flipping - and potentially a bit of scrapping off the ceiling too.

Pancake Day or ‘Shrove Tuesday’ is a centuries-old tradition which marks last day for feasting before the 40-day fast period of Lent, which begins the day after on Ash Wednesday, and leads all the way up to Easter Sunday.

Traditionally a bell would be rung to call people to church on Shrove Tuesday (more on this later…), where they would gather to make confession and to be absolved of their sins. Following this, churchgoers would dash home and cook up as much perishable food as possible, in anticipation of Lent starting the next day, and so Shrove Tuesday became an occasion of much fun and merriment as people came together to celebrate one final blow-out, knowing it would be their last proper feast until Easter Sunday! Foods that most often needed to be used up would include eggs, butter and milk; which when mixed together with a little flour and heat would create…pancakes!

Ye olde pancake was often thick and sprinkled with a few spices; a far cry from today’s sophisticated, skinny French crêpe, or stacks of the fluffy, syrup-soaked American equivalents. But regardless of form, Shrove Tuesday is still celebrated in the UK and around the world, in countries such as Australia, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, France and Poland who have all adopted the tradition and enjoy the fun and games, and of course - a lot of eating!

Even the sound of the church bell synonymous with Shrove Tuesday can still be heard across churches and villages today, although more likely today to mark the start of popular pancake race where competitors line-up, pans-in-hand, eager to see who can flip their pancakes and run at the same time to be the fastest across the finish line! This British tradition is said to have originated in 1445 when a housewife from Buckinghamshire was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time until the church bell rang, and so she raced out of the house still carrying her frying pan filled with her uncooked pancake batter, tossing it all the way to church to prevent it from burning!

For Catholics and Anglicans the day is still observed with confession and absolution, in addition to slightly more modest feasting. But whether you are religious or not, Shrove Tuesday can be full of fun, joy and a whole-lotta sugar, that will ultimately make you happier that it’s a Tuesday! So this year why not embrace this simple and tasty tradition and share it with others – here are TOAST’s top tips for perfecting Pancake Day! 


Get the invites out

Get mouths watering by sending out a few pancake-inspired invites to your guests, like these gems by British illustrator Angela Chick.

Angela Chick Pancake Card

Price: £1.00 each www.angelachick.com

The perfect pan 

The perfect pancake takes practice and a good pan; made from durable anodised aluminium Le Creuset’s Pancake/Crêpe Toughened Non-Stick Pan is the perfect shape for creating delicious pancakes that brown evenly and release from the pan effortlessly, so it will have you flipping pancakes like a pro in no time!

Le Cruset Pan

Price: £89, www.lecreuset.co.uk

Alternatively, Crate and Barrel’s Silver Dollar Pancake Pan is a great, easy-to-use pan for making lots of little yummy pancakes at one time – perfect for when feeding a crowd.

Silver Dollar Pancake Pan

Price: £39.94, www.crateandbarrel.com

Decide on your style

Do you want to go for a simple, traditional pancake or thick, fluffy American-style? Gluten free buckwheat pancakes are very in this year – switching to wholegrain flours are healthier and will add a nutty flavour to your pancake proceedings - as well as fibre and slow-release energy. Or perhaps you might like to add a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ to your pancake party and opt for some sophisticated French crêpes instead? If so, you can impress your guests with Andrew James’ expert Crêpe Maker – a stand-alone crêpe stove, which comes with all the tools you need to make crêpes like a true French chef, including a batter spreader, wooden spatula, oil brush and ladle, as well as few tips to get you started.

Crepe Maker

Price: £27.99, www.andrewjamesworldwide.com

Whatever your preference just make sure you make enough mixture; one pancake is never enough! Go for approximately 3 pancakes per head - and make sure you have some extra for some trial / disaster pancakes, just in case! 

For lots of opportunity for fun, pick up a pancake batter dispenser like this one from OXO, which uses a unique valve in the spout to keep batter from leaking between squeezes. The comfortable, flexible body is easy to squeeze with one hand making it hassle-free and perfect for creating fun shapes and your very own ‘pancake art’. Plus - snap on the base and you can store any extra batter in the fridge.

OXO Batter Dispenser

Price: £8, www.amazon.co.uk

Top up on your toppings

The best thing about pancakes is how versatile they are as when it comes to fillings – anything goes!  If you want to keep things healthy trying swapping oil and butter for coconut oil, add lots of fresh fruit, berries and chopped vegetables to your toppings table, and if you want your pancakes to keep you feeling fuller for longer, sprinkle a bit of protein powder into your mix.

Some of our favourite combinations include:

  • Fresh melted milk chocolate with sliced banana
  • Fresh berries, whipped cream and grated dark chocolate
  • Crunchy peanut butter, salted caramel sauce and sliced banana
  • Sliced peaches with geek yoghurt, honey
  • Crushed bourbon biscuits and vanilla ice cream 
  • Ham, mozzarella and mushroom  
  • Spinach, pesto and crumbled feta
  • Smoked salmon, crème fraiche and dill

The possibilities are endless!

Gourmet popcorn creator Joe & Seph’s have recently launched a range of delectable caramel sauces that are perfect for pancakes. Try their Salted Caramel Sauce or Toffee Apple & Cinnamon Caramel Sauce – both winners of 2 Stars each at the Great Taste Awards in 2016! Their Gin & Tonic Caramel sauce is also one to try and makes a great talking point on the toppings table!

Joe & Stephs

Price from £4.99 each, www.joeandsephs.co.uk

If you’re entertaining then why not invent a few topping combinations of your own, give each one a fun name, and then write up a short menu for your guests to choose from, and salivate over! You could even design one for each guest based on what you know they like, i.e. the Sophie Special – which would be a classic lemon and sugar, in case you were wondering. It needs to be freshly squeezed lemon juice mind you, and for that you might want to invest in a good quality juicer - for both style and substance, Alessi’s options are both design classics as well as being brilliantly functional. Their Juciy Salif citrus squeezer is a truly iconic object, sketched by Philippe Starck during a holiday by the sea in Italy – a great talking point when entertaining and a truly beautiful object for the table. 

Juicy Salif £49, alessi.com

Smaller and more convenient, but no less impressive is their stunning Valerio which combines a minimalist citrus squeezer and a small pestle.

Serve them up in style 

Prepare, chop and decant all your toppings in advance and lay them out on a big table for your guests to choose from. We love Emma Bridgewater’s stylish new monochrome ‘Knives & Forks’ range – perfect for laying out lots of different ingredients beautifully, or for a more Spring-centric look – her cheerful new Wallflower is delightfully floral and very uplifting.

Emma Bridgewater

Price from £2.95 www.emmabridgewater.co.uk 

Jimbobart’s charming ‘Are We Having Pancakes’ hand-painted plate is also the perfect dish for serving up pancakes, for obvious reasons!

Jimbobarts Pancake Plate

Price: £25, www.jimbobart.com

For real wow factor then you could also layer all your ingredients on a few cake stands, like this incredible creation from Be&Liv, made from transparent acrylic plates wrapped around a 24K gold plated stand.

Be&liv Cake Stand

Price: £125 www.cloudberryliving.co.uk

Keep piles of pancakes warm with this brilliant Farmhouse White Pancake Warmer; crafted by skilled Portuguese artisans, this stylish piece of stoneware dish can go straight from the oven (keeping your pancakes warm) to the table, whilst perforations in the top allow steam ventilation to prevent soggy pancakes! It’s also a great piece of kit if you’d prefer to make batches of pancakes to serve to your guests, rather than one by one.

Their matching syrup jug is also a lovely addition to any pancake party table!

Crate And Barrell Pancake Warmer And Syrup Jug

Pancake warmer Price: £21.20 www.crateandbarrel.com Syrup jug £11 www.crateandbarrel.com

Get yourself a bell 

Keep the tradition of the 'Pancake Bell' alive and get yourself your own bell to begin proceedings – you could ring it to wake up the house if you’re serving breakfast pancakes for breakfast, or use it to mark the start of pancake flipping competition at home with friends and family.

Price: £7.63, www.bidvestcateringequipment.com

Add some healthy competition  

Have a little fun in your kitchen by inviting your friends and family over for a pancake cooking challenge like no other; get two frying pans and plenty of batter at the ready, set a timer, ring the bell and see who can make the most (and best tasting!), pancakes in under 5 minutes! The host is judge and guests can take it in turns until there is only one pancake champion!

And when the flipping is all over...

In honour of this time-old tradition why not give something up for lent? It’s only 40 days…eeek.

Don’t forget to tag @ToastLifeUK in your pancake creations – we would love to see them!