Shrove Tuesday for the Souls

If we could gather, we’d be eating pancakes in the Undercroft this evening.

To Shrive or Not to Shrive

If you search our Book of Common Prayer, you won’t find any guidance on the particulars of this old celebration. Even the Church of England will send you to an external history site to explain the tradition. But local restaurants are advertising Mardi Gras specials and bakeries are selling paczki because Christians have long taken the days leading up to the Lenten fast as an opportunity to bid farewell to rich food and other pleasures.

Shrove comes from shrive.

To be shriven is to receive absolution in confession, or the “reconciliation of penitents,” as our Prayer Book puts it.

Imagine the church bells ringing at midday to remind us to hurry to church and make our confession before the beginning of the fast.  Most of us are not in the habit of going to confession, but we do take stock and prepare for our Lenten disciplines.

During Lent, our liturgies are pared back and our worship spaces are quieted. Many of us take on additional giving and prayer practices. Fasting from food and drink are among the oldest ways of marking the 40 days that echo Christ’s fast in the wilderness. Eating up the meat and eggs and fats and sweets in the house makes sense, if you are preparing to go without them for the coming weeks.

Our All Souls tradition of gathering for pancakes in the undercroft brings another dimension to Shrove Tuesday. While the disciplines we undertake for Lent are deeply personal, we are all preparing for the great Resurrection Feast of Easter. It makes sense that we should share pancakes and mimosas as members of one body.

Like so many aspects of our common life this year, we cannot celebrate this special feast together. Please make use of the resources below to prepare your own Pancake Supper.

While you are contemplating your own disciplines, we invite you to share your Lenten practices and resources. In the coming days and weeks, we’ll share the list with the Souls, so we can learn from one another on the Lenten road through the wilderness.

At-Home Resources

To help you celebrate Shrove Tuesday at home today, our chef — James Gordon — shares some of his recipes with us.

Meals are meant to be shared. Some of the best meals are shared with family. When family gets together for a meal, lives are stitched together through stories. We invite you into this shared meal for our All Souls family, which also connects with the Cathey-Gordon family. We could simply list the recipes for you. Instead, we’ll also share the story behind the meal, because we long for the day we can once again be together again, in the undercroft, sharing our stories.


Dr. James Gordon is a Philosophy professor who loves to cook. He married Sarah Cathey, whose father, Brad Cathey, also loves to cook. When James was first getting into cooking, Brad shared with James a classic French-technique cookbook from Anne Willan, published in the late ’80s: La Varenne Pratique. The book is a one-stop instructional book for French cooking techniques. Brad had used a pancake recipe in it, so when James agreed to make pancakes for the Souls, he calculated all the baker’s percentages in the recipe to scale it up for 100+ people. 

James’ scaled recipe, from Willan’s, to the right:

250 g ap flour
10 g baking powder
6 g baking soda
2.5 g salt
2 g sugar

2 eggs
60 g butter
2 cups buttermilk

Mix dry ingredients. Melt butter and mix wet ingredients. Combine wet and dry ingredients into batter. Butter griddle or pan before adding pancake batter.

There’s a problem with this recipe, though: not everyone keeps buttermilk* around the house. So, this is the recipe James uses when he has buttermilk in the house. Of course, he plans for buttermilk when he serves us on Shrove Tuesday in the undercroft.

*Note: buttermilk can be “made” by stirring 1T white vinegar into 1C milk, and letting it rest for 30–60 minutes.

James has a better pancake recipe that he uses at home on a regular basis. It calls for milk, instead of buttermilk, which is nice for those who don’t keep buttermilk around. He would use the recipe at All Souls, but it calls for an inordinate amount of butter. He would need 20-30 lbs of butter if he made this for the Souls!

Here’s the better pancake recipe, which comes from Ruth Riechl:

Melt a stick of butter. Whisk together a cup of milk, 2 large eggs, and a tablespoon of vegetable oil, then add the butter.

In a small bowl whisk a cup of flour with 4 teaspoons of baking powder, 4 teaspoons of sugar and a teaspoon of salt. Whisk that into the milk mixture just until it’s combined.  Add a bit more milk if you think it’s too thick. 

Maple Nutella Sauce

1 cup nutella
1 1/4 cups maple syrup
1/2 stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Blueberry Sauce

4 cups frozen blueberries
125 g sugar (1 cup + 2 T)
2 T cornstarch
4 t lemon juice
1 cup water.

Make a slurry out of 1 T water and the cornstarch. Boil all ingredients except cornstarch slurry. Add cornstarch slurry and boil until thickened (usually 3–5 minutes or so). 

James gets the breakfast sausage for the Souls from Whole Foods. If it weren’t cost-prohibitive, he would support local farmers like Jake’s Country Meats or Slagel Family Farms. Or, the best breakfast sausage you can buy comes from Publican Quality Meats. That’s what the Gordons willl be eating this year with their Shrove Tuesday Pancakes.

The syrup James gets is dark amber maple syrup from Whole Foods. Again, in a perfect world he’d get grade B syrup from a local farm. It’s cheaper and more flavorful than grade A.

On Shrove Tuesday at All Souls, we serve Mimosas — orange juice & sparkling wine. We typically serve Prosecco. James isn’t a big mimosa guy, so here’s his brunch cocktail of choice.

Brunch Box

1 oz Amaro Montenegro
2 oz. Grapefruit Juice
4 oz pilsner or lager
James’ favorite:
Dovetail Lager