Out of t’ Frying Pan – into t’ Gob!

This post was originally made in 2016 in celebration of Shrove Tuesday (or to give it its more exciting name: Pancake Tuesday) and in celebration of pancakes, as they are wonderful things!

Pancakes with cream cheese and garden spinach
Homemade pancake with spinach and cream cheese by Helen Sant

In case anyone cares, the term “Shrove” comes from the term “to shrive” which means to forgive sins.  Our ancient British ancestors, as Roman Catholics, went to church, confessed their wrongdoings to the priest and were shriven.  They then had to use up the filling food items in their home, before they embarked on a fast for Lent, the forty day period leading up to the most important feast in the Christian calendar: Easter.

merchant ad hall
Merchant Adventurers Hall, York

In York, in the depths of the Merchant Adventurer’s Hall, they keep the old Pancake bell, which was rung every year on Shrove Tuesday.

pancake bell
Pancake bell from the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall.

By today’s standards, it might be likened to eating all the chocolate before embarking on a week long detox.  Perhaps.  I wouldn’t know.  I don’t do detoxing.  Or fasting for that matter.  But I do make pancakes. I love to cook. In recent years, I’ve improved a lot at making pancakes – the flat English kind that is.

Yorkshire storyteller Adrian Spendlow (who sadly died in December 2020) was a master pancake maker.  So I asked him back in 2016, for his recipe and for any secrets….This was his reply.

Adrian Spendlow’s Recipe for Pancakes

The secret is to make it eggy!


  • 2 eggs (at least!)
  • a dollop of flour
  • a pinch of bicarbonate soda
  • a splash of milk


Break the eggs into the flour, bicarbonate soda and milk, all mixed together.  Add water until it is thicker than soup. Add a splosh of oil in the frying pan and when it’s red hot, ladle in enough to spread thinly across the pan.  

Poke at the edges to free them as they cook, then once it isn’t runny in the middle, shake the pan to make sure it is moving.

Then flip! (Or for cowardly people, flip it with a fish slice!) (N.B. the first one is always rubbish…)

Pancake with lemon

What I love about this recipe is that Adrian didn’t specify quantities, but concentrated on the “how “of cooking a perfect pancake.  His assertion that the first pancake you try is “always rubbish” may be seen as a comfort to less confident cooks or as a challenge to prove him wrong!  

I would also add for the “cowards” who daren’t flip and break the pancake, you can also cook the base, which you know is ready (usually in seconds) when the edges crinkle, and then cook the top part under a hot grill!  Cheating?  Of course,but who cares?  As long as it tastes good!


As for fillings and accompaniments, lemon juice is pretty standard and some people like sugar or maple syrup.  My favourite sweet filling is cooked apple or cream! For a savoury pancake you could try my suggestion above – spinach and cream cheese.   Oh, and if you’re feeling generous, why not leave a pancake outside for the fairies?  Maybe the first one…they won’t mind!  

To see Original article first published in 2016 please visit here:

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