Shrove Tuesday is the day before Lent, the period of fasting and prayer that preceeds Easter in many Christian traditions. It is also known as Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras (which means “Fat Tuesday” in French) and Pancake Day. While its roots may be in religion, the celebration of Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras tends to be a secular one, an excuse to eat, drink and be merry. The reason for indulging on Shrove Tuesday is that people wanted to use up the eggs, milk, butter and other items in their pantries that were supposed to be given up during Lent. Cakes, pancakes and donuts are all amazingly good ways to use up these ingredients and these recipes are a great place to start your Mardi Gras celebrations. After all, Mardi Gras is as good a reason as any to indulge a little bit!
King cake is a New Orleans tradition. Somewhat like a danish, the yeasted cake often has some sort of filling and is topped with colorful purple, gold and green sprinkles. My Easy King Cake is a yeasted cake filled with a white chocolate cream cheese center, but it is baked in a bundt pan and really streamlines the process. It’s finished with brightly colored icing, which is all part of the fun of Mardi Gras.
A batch of Mardi Gras Cupcakes captures the colors of Mardi Gras in a single-serving size cake. The colorful cakes have a rainbow of green, gold and purple inside that you won’t see until you take a bite. They’re topped with a quick vanilla buttercream and you can decorate them with colorful sprinkles to stand in for Mardi Gras beads.
Fluffy Lemon Yogurt Pancakes are a great springtime pancake, whether you’re making them for Pancake Day or not. They’re made with thick, greek yogurt and have just enjoy lemon juice and zest to give them a bright citrus flavor. They’re delicious with fresh berries or even with honey, which goes with the flavor of lemon very well.
Most pancakes and cakes might not be an option if you’re gluten free, but these Gluten Free Buttermilk Pancakes are something that everyone can enjoy. They’re fluffy and tender, perfect for pairing with maple syrup. Most types of gluten free flour are going to work well in this recipe, so you can start with a commercial flour blend to make making these pancakes a snap.
Beignets are a traditional donut in New Orleans that are enjoyed year round, though Mardi Gras is a good excuse to make some at home. They’re made with a yeasted dough and cut into squares before being deep fried. The golden donuts are crisp on the outside and pillowy soft inside. Finished with confectioners’ sugar, it’s easy to see why these are a favorite.
Mardi Gras Mini Donuts offer another option that brings in the colors of the holiday. These mini donuts are baked – not fried – which might not be in keeping with the tradition of eating to excess, but it does mean that you can eat a few extra mini donuts at a time! Finish them with a colorful glaze or sprinkles, and serve them with a mug of hot coffee.