Snow Pancakes (Shrovetide)

The end of February heralds the beginning of Lent which this year starts on 1 March. Most of us know of Shrove Tuesday when pancakes are traditionally baked, but Shrovetide actually consists of four days. Egg Saturday when eggs needed to be used up as they were forbidden during lent; Shrove Sunday (or Quinquagesima); Collop Monday when collops (meat) remaining in the larder would be eaten and Shrove Tuesday. Pancakes were made in order to use up eggs, butter and milk before the fasting commenced. The first three pancakes needed to be put to one side and left uneaten. “One for Peter, one for Paul and one for Him who made us all.” Single girls would feed a pancake to a rooster. The number of hens joining in this meal signified the number of years the girl would remain unwed.

The tradition of eating pancakes before Lent pre-dates Elizabethan times. Thought to be symbolic of the unleavened bread shared at the Feast of the Passover, they were common in communities where the only method of cooking was over an open fire. During Chaucer’s time they were known as crisps or cresps.

A tradition from Victoria times was to make pancakes with snow. These were egg-free and very light.

Ingredients - makes approximately 8 pancakes

4ozs (100g) plain flour ½ pint (300ml) milk
Butter A few spoonfuls of fresh snow
Pinch of salt Pinch of nutmeg


  1. Put the flour, salt and nutmeg into a mixing bowl and gradually mix in the milk to make a paste. Beat until smooth and then gradually beat in the rest of the milk.
  2. Heat a little butter in a heavy bottomed frying pan.
  3. Pour enough batter for one pancake into a small bowl.
  4. Gently fold in a heaped tablespoon of fresh snow.
  5. Pour the small bowl of batter into the hot frying pan and cook quickly. Tossing once (or turning if you prefer) once.
  6. Personally I don’t think you can beat pancakes served with just a sprinkling of sugar and lemon juice. But you can of course use these pancakes for all your favourite fillings.


SNOW (for pancake making)

NUTMEG (grated)