Yes, Pancake Week! Forget Fat Tuesday or Pancake Day. Every Orthodox person gets to celebrate Maslenitsa every year before they start lent. Living in the UK for over 10 years I haven’t celebrated Maslenitsa in a long time but talking to one of my friends last week got me all excited and brought back lots of childhood memories when school and kindergarten went all out to celebrate this week.
In Orthodox countries, the whole week consists of carnival style celebrations, dressing up, games and over-indulgences. It’s celebrated all around the world and has different names everywhere, Russian speaking countries call it Maslenitsa, Greeks call it Carnival. It’s the last week before Orthodox Christians start their 40 day long VERY strict lent and they go all out-imagine lots of eating, lots of dancing and even inappropriate erotic games(yes! it’s a thing). All so that they can then cleanse and reflect during the lent. You gave up chocolate for lent? Think of becoming vegan for 40 days-no meat, no dairy, no alcohol and an emotional cleanse.
My favourite part of Maslenitsa? Burning of the scarecrow which represents burning of Winter and cold and welcome of Spring. And of course, I love the delicious buttery pancakes. Pancakes used to represent the sun and the warmth of Spring. Below is the recipe for the simplest pancakes that works every time.
- 500ml milk(dairy and non-dairy works)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp sugar(even if you are making savoury)
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 200g flour
- pinch of salt
- 2 tsp soda
+ Make sure you have ingredients for your toppings, whatever it is you fancy
- Mix eggs and salt and sugar
- Add the oil and mix well
- Add milk and mix well
- Add flour and soda and mix with hand mixer or a whisk
- Heat the pan and melt a bit of butter or olive oil
- Pour batter into the pan and spread evenly
- Fry until golden, flip over and fry for another minute
- Repeat the process, add olive oil or butter after every other pancake(if needed)
These will come out light and thin, make sure you don’t pour too much batter. I normally use a ladle to pour batter, depending on the size of the pan you’d need anything between 1-1.5 ladles. My grandma used to spread each cooked pancake with extra butter, it makes them rich and very indulgent but it’s not for everyone so use your own judgement.
What can you have these with? ANYTHING! Some of my favourite toppings are: banana and Nutella, condensed milk and strawberries(this is very Russian way of eating pancakes) and for savoury I love ham and grated cheese. Some other very Russian toppings are: red caviar, blackberry jam, honey or sour cream with a sprinkling of sugar.
Top tip: make sure you are mentally prepared for this, if you only have 1 pan and are cooking for a big group of people then it might become a very lengthy process. Another tip: make sure your pan is good and has no scratches.