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National Pancake Day: You can have Bourbon Street, I’ll have pancakes.

By Melissa Summers

I read a few weeks ago about International Pancake Day and thought it was a holiday started by the Pancake Alliance to promote their pancake agenda. I’m happy to promote pancakes for no good reason, but it turns out Pancake Day is a Lent related tradition. Also known as Shrove Tuesday (shriving is another word for ‘confession’), Pancake Day is a feast the day before Ash Wednesday. Some Christians fast for 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday giving up certain foods, Pancake Day became a way for people to use up eggs and fats.
I felt silly for not realizing this, but in Michigan near the heavily Polish-American populated city of Hamtramck, I’ve grown up with Paczki Day (say, “Poonch-key”). Which is pretty much the same idea, except you eat a very rich and fattening polish doughnut and ponder the polish language. I know it’s a tradition, but as a “Fat Tuesday” activity, I think I’d rather stick with the pancakes. I’m pretty good at indulging myself on a regular basis so I really don’t need to eat a couple of huge paczkis to celebrate. Pancakes, on the other hand, I can get behind.
ericcarle.jpgA few books about pancakes to get your kids in the mood. Each of my kids have a favorite pancake book. Max loves Eric Carle’s “Pancake Pancake“, the book lays out the process of making a pancake from cutting the wheat, creating flour and so on all in Carle’s signature style. This process is quite mythical for Max, since in our world you pretty much open a box and add milk and eggs.
pancakes for breakfast.jpgAs a younger child, Madison loved ‘Pancakes For Breakfast” by Tomie dePaola. It’s a wordless book, about a woman who creates pancakes creatively. Of course it could be about a mother who makes her pancakes out of a box but illustrated by dePoala and I think Madison would still love it.
pancakemartha.jpgI’m thinking tonight will be an impromptu “Pancakes For Dinner” night and I’m going to step out of my normal box o’ mix routine and will attempt ‘real’ pancakes. Here is a Pancake 101 primer from Martha Stewart. Included is this tip I can never seem to wrap my brain around. “Never whisk the batter until smooth; leaving lumps of unmoistened dry ingredients will result in fluffier pancakes.” I can never seem to help myself. Martha also offers ‘Pancakes From Around the Globe‘. I am intrigued by the English Toad-In-The-Hole and the Buckwheat Blini from Russia. But if I served any of the so called pancakes to my children, I’m not sure they could ever forgive me. It would be like the time my husband’s mother snuck a couple of whole hard cooked eggs into the meatloaf. I still don’t think he’s recovered.
napavalley.jpgYou could also try making your own pancake mix, then you’re not cutting the wheat but you’re still making homemade pancakes. This mix at Family Fun uses whole-wheat and white flours, but I can’t figure out how it doesn’t have any oil. Alton Brown’s recipe looks a little more tasty but also more complicated. I guess you’ll have to decide how desperately you don’t want to make your pancakes from a box. I’ll be honest, I’m feeling a little….uh….less enthusiastic about this process. Alpha Mom Isabel recommends Napa Valley Pantry’s pancake/waffle mix. And since it’s from Napa, just like my husband (who coincidentally is also light), I’m sure I’ll love it.
SilverDollarPancakePan.jpgBut! If you make the pancakes look good, it won’t matter how you made them. This pan from Crate and Barrel lets you make seven perfect silver dollar pancakes at once. I have just a teeny bit of OCD and the thought of uniform pancakes makes me feel a little giddy. It’s also dishwasher safe which goes well with my aversion to washing dishes. There’s also this pancake pan which makes all your pancakes look like love, even if they’re from a box.
SiliconePancakeMoldsS7.jpgMy husband makes very realistic Mickey Mouse pancakes using a freehand technique. Freehand techniques are not my forte, so I love pancake molds.These silicon flower shaped molds would appeal to my daughter and maybe remind us of spring. Which seems very far away at this point. You can also use these molds to shape your eggs.
rooster mold.jpgMax has somehow decided a rooster says, “Rock-A-Rock-Roooo!” It cracks Logan and I up so much we are constantly looking for ways to get him to say it. Enter rooster pancake molds from Stonewall Kitchen. Roosters are synonymous with ‘rise and shine” and if you’re lucky they also say “Rock-A-Rock-Roooo!” at your table.
williamsonoma.jpgWilliams Sonoma offers transportation themed pancakes molds your kids might like. They also have a ‘Fashion Plate‘ and a ‘Spring‘ version. If your kids don’t like any of those choices then I don’t know what to tell you. I’ll send Logan over to make mouse pancakes for you or something.
jesuspan.jpgConsidering the link between Lent and Pancake Day, I think this pan would be incredibly appropriate. The Jesus Pan! “Kids, we’re having Heavenly Hotcakes tonight!” I’m guessing the pancakes taste extra special, and I bet you can come up with a few other foods you’d like to see Him on. Grilled cheese? I wonder if you could see Jesus in an omelette? There’s only one way to find out. (Link via Gizmodo.)
poshpancakes.jpgFinally, serve your pancakes on these plates. Because, it’s true: pancakes make people happy. Unless you have Celiac Disease because then pancakes are slowly trying to kill you. They also might not make you happy if the pancakes are made on the Jesus Pan, in that case they might make you feel a little unnerved. Or pious. Nonetheless, the plate will make you smile, especially if you serve everything on them. Like steak, then the ‘Pancakes Make People Happy’ message won’t make sense, but will still make me laugh because I like nonsensical things like that.
ihop.jpgMaybe you just don’t have the fortitude to make pancakes tomorrow. It’s midwinter break this week and honestly, I’m just trying to keep my kids busy without spending $30 on movies and museums everyday. IHOP can help. They’re offering free pancakes to customers all day tomorrow in exchange for a donation to The Children’s Miracle Network. In 2006 IHOP raised over $340,000 for the charity and hope to reach $500,000 this year. Hmmm….maybe we’ll have pancakes for lunch today, that will burn almost an hour of daylight and all for a good cause. (Link via blogging baby.)
Hooray for Pancake Day! Sure it’s not New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, but it has it’s own appeal. Like, no hangover.

Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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  • It’s Fat Tuesday! Yeehaw! And, yes, we here in Baton Rouge, LA (one hour from the debauchery of New Orleans) had pancakes for breakfast…or at least my little family did! Of course, pancakes are a staple to a three-year old…so it wasn’t a huge treat!
    Throw me somethin’, mistah!

  • I love pancakes, and seriously, pancakes from scratch are the most insanely easy things to make and you feel quite competent and cheflike. I use one from Cooking Light called Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes, if you want to go to their site and search, except I use 2 eggs instead of one egg and an egg white, no oil, and less sugar than the recipe calls for.
    The secret to fluffy pancakes, I once discovered when I got distracted after I’d mixed up the batter, is to leave the batter to sit for 10 minutes or so. The leavener activates and fluffs everything up. It’s really thick, though.
    I am Polish, but don’t like paczki so no paczek for me today! Maybe pancakes (although it’s not like I am giving THOSE up for Lent).

  • The almight Barefoot Contessa’s sour cream pancakes are our Sunday favorite:,1977,FOOD_9936_25681,00.html
    I substitute blueberries, peaches, etc. or just eat them plain, soooo good. Thanks for the breakfast-for-dinner idea, Melissa!

  • Have you seen this pancake spatula?
    It’s great for those of us who have trouble turning the pancake without splattering raw dough all over the freaking kitchen.

  • I’m from England, and I had frozen pancakes for breakfast because I’m especially lazy- 30 secs in a microwave and they’re perfect! Toad in the hole is delicious, sausages in a savoury batter served with gravy and veg. I loved it as a kid, and my sister survived her teens on it (her palatte couldn’t handle curry)!

  • Jackie

    We are having chocolate chip pancakes tonite! Mmmm …

  • karyn

    I was in Windsor one year around Shrove Tuesday and had a paczki. Or I should say, had about half of a paczki. Blargh. Too much jambuster for me.
    We are, however, headed over to the local church tonight for some pancakes and sausages. Because I like it when someone else makes me pancakes.

  • I like to throw some mashed-up banana or other fruit into the batter to give the kids a little more nutritional variety. They never can tell the difference, because maple syrup is so strong a taste that it hides a multitude of kid-unfriendly flavors! Even zucchini, I kid you not.

  • I make pumpkin pancakes for dinner sometimes and my kids treat me like a long lost culinary god king. I just get a can of pumpkin pie filling and stir some of it into the pancake mix. I assume it will work with waffles but waffle makers are deadly and prone to random acts of weird waffle destruction so I’d tread lightly there. But the pumpkin pancake, she is gooooood.

  • Aw … and this morning I made WAFFLES!!! Drat!

  • Pancakes! My English husband has never celebrated Lent in his life, but nonetheless looks forward to Pancake Day every year, and somehow we always manage to forget it. Thanks to you, tonight we shall dine on pancakes.

  • The pancakes in a box phenomenon is such a marketing scam. From scratch is so easy (though I didn’t know that leaving lumps was a good thing. My lazy-butt technique is justified)!
    My favorite recipe substututes cottage cheese for eggs. That way you get melty curds of cheese in your pancakes. Mmmm. Cheese.

  • Being a “Mom Who Drinks” I’m leaving a tip that my Dad taught me about making pancakes that are the fluffiest you’ve ever had. Substitute beer for 1/2 of the liquid called for in the recipe. Don’t worry, the alcohol will cook off and there is only the slightest whiff of beer. The pancakes taste fine.

  • Our family’s recipe for pancakes is oil-free too…I always thought that was strange, but it’s always good. So good, in fact, that when I’ve reached for the box at the grocery store, my son has stopped me, looked me square in the eye, and told me, “No, Mom,your pancakes are so much better.” Kind of a suck-up, but it works.
    1 cup flour
    1 cup buttermilk
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon sugar
    2 eggs.
    If you want to be fancy, whip the egg whites separately and fold them into the mixture at the end, but I’m never fancy…I just mix all the dry ingredients then add the wet ingredients. If you don’t have buttermilk, just use regular milk plus a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar. Yum.

  • amy

    My daughter loves the “Pancakes Pancakes” book, but noted that Jack “shouldn’t shout so much.” I guess he is kind of a bad example, what with all the shouting, and churning of butter, and cutting wheat at dawn…
    Oh, and thanks for giving me an excuse to have dinner tonight without any fighting…everyone loves pancakes!

  • Pants

    My dad used to put corn in our pancakes sometimes. They seemed unconventional but we liked ’em.

  • I’ve lived in the United States for 8 years. It was just half an hour ago that I received the shocking news that Shrove Tuesday was not a traditional part of the American Lenten/Mardi Gras experience. This goes a long way towards explaining the anomie which plagues America. America, and indeed the rest of the world, will be a better place once Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday) becomes a national holiday.
    Thank you for doing your part, Melissa!
    Peace, love, and pancakes all around 🙂

  • Meg

    I have celiac disease, and yes, you can still have delicious pancakes with this awsome mix. Happy Pancake Eating!!!

  • Kelly

    go gluten intolerant! yay us! we get more creative, I swear, and by shear force of cost alone I have learned some cooking and baking.
    Let’s just say, I prefer Bob’s Red Mill mix for pannycakegoodness. Or a little substitution (or 4) in a basic recipe does wonders. Waffles, however, suck still. any suggestions, fellow celiacs?

  • Oh my HOLY, I need a Jesus pancake pan! My new absolute favorite pancake recipe is really easy and hard to screw up:
    1 cup whole-wheat flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 cup milk
    1 egg
    1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
    1 apple, peeled and grated.
    Mix it all up and toss it in a lightly oiled pan.
    The amazing part is that 1) you get to feel all virtuous because, hey, apples and whole wheat flour! and 2) the whole wheat flour just makes them taste even better than regular pancakes, sort of sweet-ish. And they aren’t heavy like whole wheat pancakes usually are, I think because of the yogurt. Just pure awesomeness. I’m actually going to eat some right now.

  • javamama

    Hmmmm. My kids’ school had a pancake feed last night. We don’t go to a Catholic school. Coincidence? Anyhoo… yay, pancakes!

  • TeriLynn

    Oooh! Lis, you have other Celiac readers! I’m so sorry for all of you, but still, YAY! for you being around!
    For my gluten-free pancakes, I use my own flour mix (adapted from Bette Hagman’s) with quite a bit of soy flour, and extra baking soda & powder for fluffiness, and a little bit of corn meal for texture. I’ve never tried to make my own waffles because I grew up on frozen ones, so Van’s plain frozen are fine with me. Besides, with enough peanut butter on them, they CAN’T crumble.
    Hungry now.

  • I always try to give something up for Lent… this year we (the girls in our office) have decided we will give up bitching about colleagues…
    I’m English and when I was a child my Father always made the pancakes from scratch and we would always use the same pan… it was the “Pancake Pan”… used for nothing else and brought out of the cupboard on very rare occasions… but it was the ONLY pan pancakes were cooked and flipped in…

  • We just bought a malted pancake/waffle mix from Williams Sonoma. I don’t remember the name of it, but there’s an old-fashioned little boy on the front. He looked happy enough so we bought it. They’re VERY good as waffles AND pancakes!

  • if you like toad-in-the-hole (at least as a concept), you’ll love welsh rarebit (more amusing if pronounced rabbit) and spotted dick (which is amusing however you pronounce it). they’re nothing at all to do with pancakes, but who cares? on the subject of pancake slackness, however, marks&spencer had tubs of ready-made pancake mix for sale on tuesday! i’m all for making life easier for the intellectually fatigued, but come on ….!