Ms Marmite Lover: Shrive yourself before Lent with these blood orange pancakes

Blood Orange Pancakes. Picture: Kerstin Rodgers

Blood Orange Pancakes. Picture: Kerstin Rodgers - Credit: Archant

This colourful citrus fruit offers a dose of vitamin C to balance the Mardis gras traditon of eating eggs and dairy the day before Lent, says Kerstin Rodgers.

January has become the month when we are all supposed to start dieting, going vegan or eulogising what the internet calls ‘#Banuary’. Yet our (post) Christian culture already has an antidote for winter over-eating known as Lent, which starts February 10th. Last year I spent time in Athens during Lent and was interested to see that Greeks (and all Eastern Orthodox Christians) take this fasting period very seriously. Most restaurants have a vegetarian Lenten menu, without meat, eggs or dairy products.

The night before Lent commences, we gather up our eggs and dairy to make pancakes for Shrove Tuesday. Virtually every culture has some kind of pancake: crepes, blinis, waffles, clafoutis, hoppers, hotcakes, dosas.

Something one should eat in winter is citrus. In this month’s recipe I’m calling upon blood oranges to add flavour, colour, gloss and Vitamin C to sweeten these almost weightless billowy pancakes. Blood oranges are only available from January until March, so use them now. Likewise, this is the season to buy unusual citrus such as Meyer lemons, which are popular in America - you can use both the zest and the juice. Look out too for Bergamot with its heady floral aroma. The oil and peel is used to create the distinctive flavour of Earl Grey tea.

Try making a blossomy Bergamot sorbet as a palate cleanser. They can be obtained at Ocado, London Fine Foods and Other citrus ideas: if you have access to orange flowers from the fruit, use them in hot water with a little honey as a fragrant tisane.

Bergamot sorbet recipe:

450g caster sugar

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450ml water

350ml orange juice

Zest and juice of 2 bergamots

In a medium saucepan on a medium heat, combine the sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved. When cool add the zest and juice. Add this to your icecream maker and churn for half an hour until thick. Or place in a plastic tub in the freezer and fork over every 15 minutes to make a rougher, granita style sorbet (a grown up slush puppie).

Blood orange ricotta pancakes:

Makes 10 to 12 pancakes

2 blood oranges plus extra for garnishing

200ml water

200ml sugar

1 vanilla pod

250g ricotta

Zest of a lemon or bergamot

150ml milk

3 eggs, separated

100g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

A big knob (50g) of butter to melt on top and for cooking

To make the blood orange syrup:

Prepare the blood oranges by cutting off the top and bottom then removing the peel and pith. Slice thinly. Using a small saucepan, add the water and sugar. Simmer until the sugar is dissolved, then add the blood orange slices and the vanilla pod. Simmer until the syrup is crimson and thick. Once finished, you can sieve out the oranges pieces or keep them in.

To make the pancake:

In a large bowl, add the ricotta and the zest of a lemon or bergamot. Add the milk and egg yolks, stir. Then add the flour, baking powder and salt, mixing together to make a thick batter.

In a separate bowl or stand mixer, whisk the egg whites until fluffy. Gently fold the egg into the batter.

On a medium heat, place a flat frying pan or a ‘crepiere’ (a cast iron crepe pan you can get in French supermarkets for about 15 to 20 euros, well worth picking one up on your next trip) and rub a knob of butter over it using kitchen paper. When making crepes or pancakes I rub over the pan with the same buttery paper between every crepe. This way it doesn’t stick but neither does it get too greasy.

Put two large tablespoons of the mixture for each pancake. Let it set and after a few minutes flip it over. Keep cooking until fluffy and golden.

Serve in a short stack with salted butter, and drizzle the syrup over the pancakes. Add more blood orange slices if you like. If you want to turn this into dessert, add some cointreau to the syrup.

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