February is almost here, and so La Chandeleur, the French Candlemas.
The Catholic holiday of Candlemas, on 2 February, is a feast to commemorate the purification of the Virgin Mary and the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. Chandeleur is also known in France, Suisse and Belgium for being the day you bake and eat crêpes (not pancakes which is very different).
Tradition attributes the custom to Pope Gelasius I, who was distributing crêpes to pilgrims arriving in Rome, but we can see in this ceremony the custom of the Vestals at Lupercalia who were offering cakes made with wheat from the old crop to make sure the following one will be good.
To celebrate Candlemas, all the candles in the house should be on. Tradition also asks not to store the Nativity Scene you’ve prepared for Christmas, until Candlemas, which is the last day of Christmas’s cycle. It is also said that the pancakes round shape and gold color, remind the solar disc, referring to the return of spring after winter dark and cold.
In France we do a bit of fortune telling while baking crêpes. It is traditional to hold a coin in your writing hand and a crêpe pan in the other, and flip the crêpe into the air. If you manage to catch the crêpe in the pan, your family will be prosperous for the rest of the year.
Do you want to try? Here is the recipe…and don’t forget the coin:
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 cup milk
• 1/2 cup water
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 tablespoons butter, melted
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.
Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side. Serve hot. Crêpes are perfect with cider.
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