Mardi Gras Pancakes

Ken Albala shares this recipe for a festive mardi gras pancake. You better get the feast in before the fast!

Festive Food

Mardi Gras Pancakes

The feast before the fast

-Ken Albala

mardi gras pancakeIn Europe in the 1400s Mardi Gras was the last day when meat could be eaten before the 40 days of Lent. Since eggs and butter were also forbidden, traditional Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday (also called Fat Tuesday) dishes often included lots of both! Pancakes were a medieval favorite and eating rich pancakes on Shrove Tuesday became a tradition in England.

Legend has it that in 1445 in the town of Olney, England, a woman was interrupted by church bells calling her to services while she was still making her Mardi Gras pancakes. Rather than stop, she ran, hot pan in hand, flipping her pancake all the way to the church! To this day women race through Olney flipping pancakes to celebrate Mardi Gras. They even started holding Shrove pancake races here in the States – in Liberal, Kansas. To make your own quick version of Shrove Tuesday pancake just add another egg or two and substitute heavy cream for the milk in your favorite pancake recipe. Add a few tablespoons of sugar, pinch of cinnamon and ginger too!

Take a peek at a pancake recipe from the past:

New Huswife’s Handmaide for the Kitchen,1588:

Take new thicke Creame a pinte, foure or five yolks of Egs, a good handfull of flower, and two or three spoonfuls of Ale, strain them altogether into a faire platter, and season it with a good handfull of Sugar, a spoonful of Synamon, and a litle Ginger: then take a frying pan, and put in a litle peece of Butter, as big as your thombe, and when it is molten browne, cast it out of your pan, and with a ladle put to the further saide of your pan some of your stuffe, and hold your pan aslope, so that your stuffe may run abroad over all your pan, as thin as may be: then set it to the fyre, and let the fyre be verie soft, and when the one side is baked, then turne the other, and bake them as dry as ye can without burning.

Ken is a Professor of History and author of PANCAKE, as well as eight other books. Check out Ken’s fun foodie blog on

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