It seems there's a day for every food these days. There are days delighting in doughnuts. There are days for sandwiches, hamburgers and hot dogs. Pie gets more than one day. But Pancake Day is especially important in Liberal, Kansas, and Olney, England. For the past 71 years, the women of the two communities have raced down the streets of their respective communities, flipping pancakes and running against the clock and each other. The race is always on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. It's the only race of its kind in the world.
"Shrove" is not a thing, but a verb. "Shrive" (shrove, shriven) comes from the Old English verb scrfan, "to decree, decree after judgment, impose a penance upon, hear the confession of," according to the dictionary. Shrove Tuesday is a day to reflect, to seek penance and get ready for Lent.
In Olney, the Pancake Race tradition dates back to 1445. Legend has it that a woman was busy making pancakes and using up cooking fats, which were forbidden during Lent at that time. Hearing the church bells ring to announce the Shrove Tuesday service, she grabbed her head scarf and ran to the church, with pancake-filled skillet in hand. In following years, neighbors joined the race to the church. The first to arrive collected a Kiss of Peace from the bell ringer.
|Photo from the International Pancake Day Facebook page: Liberal's Billie Warden crosses the finish line in 1950. Billie won the local race with a time of 1:18 but lost to Olney's Florence Callow, who finished in 1:10.4.|
Racers must still wear a head scarf and apron. Each runner flips her pancake at the starting signal and again as she crosses the finish line to prove she still has her pancake after running the 415-yard course.
|Photo from the International Pancake Day Race Facebook page|
- It is considered good luck to carry a past winner's skillet in the race or wear a past winner's apron.
- One year, the stack of concrete pancakes marking the starting point of the race was stolen. This was considered a bad omen, but the stack was later returned.
- Although the women practice running 415 yards, it is considered bad luck to run the official race course during the practice sessions.
The Peace of the Lord be always with you.
Banana Oat Pancakes
Adapted from Food Fanatic
Serves about 63/4 cup old-fashioned oats
2 medium bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped pecans (opt.)
Butter for griddle or skillet
Syrup, additional nuts and fruit for serving, if desired
In a medium bowl, combine oats, bananas and milk. Set aside to let the oats soak and soften.
Preheat pancake griddle or skillet over medium high heat.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat the egg and oil into the wet oatmeal mixture, then pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Add nuts, if desired, and stir until just combined.
Butter the preheated surface of the griddle or skillet. Use about 1/4 cup batter per pancake. Wait until the entire exposed surface of the pancake is bubbly and the edges start to look as though they are set, then flip the pancake. Cook the second side and remove pancakes to a plate or a chafing dish to keep warm.
Garnish the pancakes with more chopped pecans and/or fruit and serve with your favorite syrup.