Shrove Tuesday and Dutch Babies

As Orthodox Christians we don’t observe Shrove Tuesday and we certainly don’t observe Mardi Gras (both names for the day preceding Ash Wednesday), however, pre-Lenten traditions are similar around the world and in different faiths. For those in the West Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, for those in the East, on Clean Monday. “Shrove” refers to forgiveness – people would go to confession and receive forgiveness before Lent began. In the East the day before Lent begins is Forgiveness Sunday in which we all ask forgiveness of each other.

It is traditional to eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday in many English-speaking countries. Growing up as a Catholic I know we had pancakes many times on this date. In fact, in many countries today is called “Pancake Day”.

In Slavic cultures blini (similar to crepes) are eaten during Cheesefare Week, the week before Lent begins. During this week no meat is eaten and dairy and eggs are allowed every day. Beginning with Clean Monday no meat, dairy or any animal products are allowed, so this was one way to both clean out your larder and have one last hurrah, so to speak. This is the origin of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday as well since the fasting rules were the same in the West as in the East until not too long ago.

Well, I don’t know how to make blini and am not too enthusiastic about learning. Pancakes are common enough. But there is one dish that we consider “special” that fits the bill quite nicely: Dutch baby pancakes. If you’ve never had this, or even seen it, you are in for a treat. The children love watching it rise, and rise it does!

Dutch Baby Pancakes

(the feed-a-crowd version: use 2 cast-iron pans or very large casserole)

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 12 eggs
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • dash of nutmeg

(the more normal-sized version: use 1 cast-iron pan or large casserole)

  • 1 stick butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • dash of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400. Put one stick of butter in each pan and insert in oven to melt. Do not let the butter burn.

In a large bowl stir together milk and flour until just combined. Beat eggs with a fork in a separate bowl then add to the flour and milk mixture. Stir together well – it should be lumpy. Add nutmeg or cinnamon if desired.

Pour into pans and put pans back into preheated oven.

Cook for 20 – 25 minutes or until knife comes out clean. Serve immediately because pancake will begin to fall as soon as it comes out of the oven. Serve with syrup, honey, jelly, preserves, lemon curd, nutella – anything you like. Traditionally this is served with a dusting of powdered sugar and a sprinkle of lemon juice.


4 thoughts on “Shrove Tuesday and Dutch Babies

  1. I grew up eating “oven pancakes” every Sunday morning, since it was something that my mom could mix up quickly and then it gave her about 20-ish minutes to get herself or us ready while it cooked…then there was breakfast and one more 15-20 minute dash to get us finished dressing and out the door!!


  2. Pingback: Dutch Babies and Strawberries | Praying With My Feet

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