skip to Main Content

Race for Pancakes!

The nearby town of Olney is home to one of the world’s more unusual sporting events – the Great Olney Pancake Race. No one knows quite what its origins are. One version is that of a harassed housewife, hearing the shriving bell, dashing to the Church still clutching her frying pan containing a pancake. Another says that a gift of pancakes may have been a bribe to the Ringer, or Sexton to ring the bell sooner. Ringing the bell signalled the beginning of the day’s holiday and enjoyment, no less than to summon the people to the service at which they would be shriven of their sins before the long Lenten fast.

It’s thought the race was first run in 1445, pancakes at the time being a popular dish, receiving royal favour. It was run on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent, and the whole day was given over to a festival of celebration, practical jokes and fun.

The custom continued over the centuries, lapsing during the Second World War, until it was revived again in 1948 by the Vicar of Olney the Reverend Canon Ronald Collins. In clearing out a cupboard he came across some old photographs, which had obviously been taken in the Nineteen Twenties and Thirties of women running with frying pans. Filled with enthusiasm to revive the ancient custom, he called for volunteers, and in response thirteen runners appeared on Shrove Tuesday that year. The race immediately caught the popular imagination and people of Olney set out to enjoy this simple and colourful link with their rich past, a day of festivities.

Shrove Tuesday is 16th February so here’s the Butterfly Loft really-easy-recipe for deliciously fluffy pancakes.

Pancakes

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Makes 6-8 pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 135g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 130ml milk
  • large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp melted butter (allowed to cool slightly) or olive oil, plus extra for cooking

Method

  1. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and caster sugar into a large bowl. In a separate bowl or jug, lightly whisk together the milk and egg, then whisk in the melted butter.
  2. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and, using a fork, beat until you have a smooth batter. Any lumps will soon disappear with a little mixing. Let the batter stand for a few minutes.
  3. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add a knob of butter. When it’s melted, add a ladle of batter (or two if your frying pan is big enough to cook two pancakes at the same time). It will seem very thick, but this is how it should be. Wait until the top of the pancake begins to bubble, then turn it over and cook until both sides are golden brown, and the pancake has risen to about 1cm thick.
  4. Repeat until all the batter is used up. You can keep the pancakes warm in a low oven, but they taste best fresh out the pan.
  5. Serve with topping of your choice. Lovely with sweet or savoury options.

Getting it all sorted out

All the equipment needed for making this delicious, comforting autumn meal is available in the Butterfly Loft.

Some of the basic ingredients are already in the kitchenette, so check before you go shopping.

Within a minute’s walk of the Butterfly Loft is our pretty High Street where you’ll find shops selling everything you need for this recipe (and much more). We have a truly wonderful local baker Woodstocks (you’ll see the queue out of the door most mornings), an excellent local butcher (H Green & Son) plus a Budgens and McColls. Every Saturday morning there’s a traditional market in Timor Court featuring a large fruit and veg stall with good quality produce.

And (doing our bit for the environment) we provide Butterfly shopping bags so you can shop your socks off!

Back To Top