How to run a Shrove Tuesday Pancake supper and race (5 of 3)

UPDATE 02/2010: Please see this post for an updated and more concise version of this guide.

// This will be a bit different from my other How Tos. This is based on the work I did to run the Pancake supper for my parent’s old church.

Basic stats on this outline are: dinner for 50 in a medium sized parish hall starting at 6:30pm with pancake races.

Background on Shrove Tuesday

Shrove Tuesday, AKA Marti Gras or most tellingly, Fat Tuesday, is the excuse to eat tons of eggs and meat and lard (or butter/oil) before the denials of Lent begin. It is the party to get you through the purple weeks. Here is the Wikipedia entry on Shrove Tuesday.

The pancake races are something slightly less reverent. The way I have always seen them conducted is thus: just when every person at the dinner has stuffed themselves with pancakes, the races begin. The eaters are divided by age into different categories (or by school level–it depends on the size of the group), and then they compete two at a time. The competition is simple. Each eater is given a frying pan with a pancake in it. Having found a suitably long and un-obstacled venue in which to run, the two contestants (former eaters) are given the signal by the judge, and then they flip their pancake, run to the other end of the hall, flip their pancake again, run back to the starting line and flip their pancake a third time. There are cool prizes (like bouncy balls and beads and stuffies).

I will not include information which is not owned by me (obviously) but I will list them so any reader of this can get an idea of what information is needed for a successful pancake supper.

A visual layout of the eating space.

As Pancake supper is usually a church-run event, this will probably be a parish hall or other kind of meeting space.

Menu for pancake supper

Meal for 1 guest:
    .5 strawberries
    .25 cups syrup
    1 tbs powdered sugar
    1 ounce chocolate chips
    .25 cups apple sauce
    .25 cups apple juice/orange juice/water
    3 pancakes
    3 sausages


    Make Ahead Yeast Pancakes
    Apple Sauce

  • Hot (on drinks table)
    • Water for
      • Tea
      • Coco
      • Coffee
  • Cold Drinks (pitchers of each on tables, serve at 6:30pm, only to tables w/ people at them, keep rest in fridge)
    • Orange Juice
    • Water
    • Apple juice
  • Syrup (squeeze bottles on table)
  • Chocolate chips
  • Powdered sugar
  • Cut strawberries
  • Butter (little packets on the table)

See last header for Recipes.

Checklist of utensils and accouterments for the Pancake Supper

NOTE: For one table (there will be 10 people seated per table)

    Dining Area

    11 tables (1 for coffee & tea 10 for seating)
    Serving dishes: 2 (1 for pancakes, 1 for sausages per table)
    Condiments bowls: 3 (1 for chocolate chips, 1 for powdered sugar, 1 strawberries per table)
    Serving forks 2 (1 for pancakes, 1 for sausages per table)
    Medium bowl 1 (for apple sauce)
    Serving Spoon 1 (for Apple Sauce)
    Plates 10 (per table)
    Forks/Knives/Spoons 10 (per table)
    Mugs 10 (per table)

    Kitchen Area

    3 Pitchers (for pouring Pancake batter)
    3 Frying Pans (for pancakes)
    3 Serving spoons for (1 for each Condiments bowl)
    4 Big heating pans (chaffing dishes can be useful if you are serving a large crowd. However if you cooks can keep on top of the orders, it also works to put one big serving platter full of pancakes under another empty on to keep the heat in if the wait will be 10 minutes or under)
    5 Spatulas
    3 Tongs for cooking sausages
    3 Griddles for cooking sausages (Can also use baking sheets and an oven)


You might want to put up posters with information (redone in pretty fonts) like this:

Shrove Tuesday
Pancake Supper
[You location’s name]
Pancakes, Apple Sauce, Sausages and Pancake Races!
All donations go to support [Your Group and You Cause]
Map to place where Pancake supper/race will be held (if you GoogleMap/YahooMap/MaqQuest your location and go to the “print” screen you can drag the image(s) off of the page onto your desktop and insert them into you poster).

List of Jobs

Post somewhere prominent in the kitchen

I wanted to make the supper as easy for everyone involved as possible, so I drew up a list like this:

List of jobs for 2007 Shrove Tuesday Pancake supper at All Saints Episcopal Church:

Job # People needed Time Volunteer (s)
Clean up crew 3 7:30-8:30, (Names of volunteers)
Condiment Prep 2 4:30-5:30,
Sausage cooking 2 5:00-6:30,
Pancake cooking 2 5:45-6:30,
Food prep 2 4:00-6:00,
Decorations 1 5:30ish,
Set up 2 Anytime before 5:30,
Kitchen Busgirl/Servers 3 6:00-7:45,
Decorations and Table/Chair set up can occur anytime during the day, need to be done by 6pm

Our decorations were lovely Marti Gras beads, colorful plastic table clothes and plastic confetti sprinkled around the tables.

Volunteer form

Here is a form I wrote up to give to volunteers who needed volunteer hours (many high schools and some extra curricular organizations require volunteer work from their students/members).

[Name, address, email and phone number of your organization]

Volunteer form

To Whom It May Concern;

On __________, 2007 ________________ of ______________________ school assisted [Name of Organization] by helping to run the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races. This individual volunteered for ___________________ hours. I recognize that _______________did an outstanding job in their community service to the [Church]. We appreciated the time and effort that this individual put into assisting us. If there are any questions or comments regarding this individual’s community service please feel free to contact the [Church]. All information including the supervisors name is listed on this page. Thank you.

[Here you can put information about what (if anything) you are fundraising for]

Volunteer name:___________________________________

Volunteer telephone # (_____)_____________________________

Volunteer email:___________________________________

Supervision name:_________________________________

Supervisor signature:_______________________________

Supervisor telephone # (_____)_________________________________

Supervisor email: ____________________________________



Here are my notes from how the Pancake supper 2007 went:

NOTE: the church I ran this in has an industrial Dishwasher. I loved that kitchen, but the Dishwasher was one of my favorite objects in it. 90 seconds for a 2ft by 2ft tray of plates and forks and they were perfectly clean. Beautiful! So most of the notes about running an industrial washing machine in an small space will probably not apply to *you*. However, they show how you might go about getting dishes for 50 people washed in such a way your volunteers won’t kill you at midnight.

Pancake Supper 2007

Bought 3 boxes of Sausages at Costco, which worked (1 NY breakfast sausages, 2 Italian sausages) We made 6 batches of batter on Sunday and stored them in a 5 pound paint bucket in the refrigerator—it appears to have overflowed (the Food closet people kindly cleaned it up on Monday). We also made 2 pounds of the Pancake batter from a bag because we ran out of pancakes. The pancakes out of the bag were actually not too bad tasting—they might be used exclusively in the future.

Things that went really well: the condiments were lovely and well prepared ahead of time. The sausages cooked well in the oven (350 degrees until brown on cookie trays). The gluten-free pancakes went over well, even those made from a recipe made new itself that day. The volunteers were generally wonderful, interested in helping and courteous to each other. All of the food tasted good and everyone I saw came away happy.

Things that went not-so-well. Too much apple-sauce, we bought enough apple sauce to fill the medium-sized glass bowls for 12 tables. Next year we need some front-of-the-house specific people. We need someone to hang out in the parish hall, wait until there are enough people mingling to fill up about 3 tables, then call everyone to sit down (after notifying the kitchen that they’re doing that and checking that food is ready for 3 full tables) then have someone give a prayer. That same person or people should watch out to see if people are finishing up (the people who deliver the trays of pancakes should check to see if anyone at the table wants gluten-free pancakes). That person should gauge the flow of the evening—greeting and seating new people, notifying someone else to go and get the full table serving (1 platter of pancakes, 1 large plate of sausages and 1 bowl of apple sauce) for that table. When it seems that most people are almost finished (but their plates are not fully empty) then that person should get the races started. This person does not have to carry plates or announce the beginning of the races, but they should be the one responsible for the flow—a matridee of sorts.

On cleanup, the 5 trays should always be in the wash up room. 2 filled up with dishes, 1 in the washer and 2 drying. This means that no dirty dishes outside of trays should be brought into the washing-room. John had a wonderful suggestion—if we could buy about 6 bus-boy buckets (the grey dish buckets) and then have all dirty dishes placed on the stainless steel in the open fold-up window. From there all of the butter-cups could be soaked, all of the plates could be soaked and all of the cups and other bowls—then all of the dishes can be washed in sets, which would make it a lot easier to clean.

    1) One such bucket would be brought into the wash room to fill up a tray,
    2) that tray would go through the wash (and another 2 behind it being loaded).
    3) When it came out the other side it would be let dry until the next tray comes out to dry,
    4) then it should have steamed out enough,
    5) then the dish drier should dry all of the dishes on that tray,
    6) putting them away on the racks in the Dish room or sending them out in a clean busboy bucket to be put away in the broader kitchen.

This sounds really pedantic but it will help make cleanup faster.

Pancake recipes

NOTE: I used the top recipe because I love cooking and yeast is a fun ingredient. However, having read my debrief, you will know the perils and uncertain culinary benefits to this kind of pancake batter. The large bags of Just-Add-Water pancake mix seemed to be just as satisfying to everyone at the pancake supper.

Make Ahead Waffle and Pancake Batter
From Linda Larsen,
Your Guide to Busy Cooks.
This delicious and super easy recipe for make ahead waffle and pancake batter uses yeast for a complex flavor. You can keep it in your fridge for 4 days for breakfast in minutes.

  • 4-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 pkg. dry yeast
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 6 eggs
    In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and yeast. In medium saucepan, heat milk and butter over low heat until warm and add along with eggs to flour mixture. Beat at medium speed until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days, stirring in 2 additional tablespoons sugar after second day. (Note from Jessica: these pancakes are a lot less sweet than the more cake-like quick bread variations. This recipe has lots of texture and not much flavor, which means it takes in the flavors of all of the condiments around it. Just be prepared for a little bit of a tart pancake rather than a sugary tasting one).

    For pancakes, lightly grease griddle and pour about 1/4 cup batter onto hot surface for each pancake. Turn when edges look cooked and bubbles begin to break on surface, about 3-4 minutes, then cook a few minutes longer until other side is browned, about 1-3 minutes.

    Pancake basics

    Doesn’t matter if you call them Flapjacks, Hotcakes or Griddlecakes, they are all just Pancakes to me. Pancakes are one of America’s oldest and favorite types of quick breads. Here are the basic cooking and freezing directions.

    Pancakes are so simple to make. All you need is a griddle or a flat bottomed skillet. Heat griddle until a drop of water sizzles on it. Once hot, lightly grease it. Combine pancake ingredients until large lumps are gone. Don’t over mix. Fluffy pancakes are made by leaving small lumps in the batter. For a uniform pancake size, use a 1/4 or 1/3 cup measurer to ladle batter onto griddle. Turn the pancakes when there are bubbles all over the top and the edges are lightly browned. Flip the pancakes and bake the other side for just a few minutes. To maintain a fluffy pancake, do not flattened them with the spatula.

    Remove pancakes to a plate to keep warm until the entire batch is made.

    Store leftover pancakes in the freezer. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Make pancake stacks of two each with a teaspoon of butter in between. Once all of the stacks are on the cookie sheet, put them in the freezer. As soon as they are frozen, move individual stacks into a resealable freezer bag. Reheat them for about 1 to 2 minutes* on a plate in the microwave. (*Timing is dependent on the type and size of pancake.)

    Other potential recipe:

    “Instant” Pancake Mix
    Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
    Show: Good Eats

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda (check expiration date first)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugarCombine all of the ingredients in a lidded container. Shake to mix.Use the mix within 3 months.”INSTANT” PANCAKES:
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 cups “Instant” Pancake Mix, recipe above
  • 1 stick butter, for greasing the pan
  • 2 cups fresh fruit such as blueberries, if desiredHeat an electric griddle or frying pan to 350 degrees F. Heat oven to 200 degrees F.
    Whisk together the egg whites and the buttermilk in a small bowl. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the melted butter.Combine the buttermilk mixture with the egg yolk mixture in a large mixing bowl and whisk together until thoroughly combined. Pour the liquid ingredients on top of the pancake mix. Using a whisk, mix the batter just enough to bring it together. Don’t try to work all the lumps out.Check to see that the griddle is hot by placing a few drops of water onto to the griddle. The griddle is ready if the water dances across the surface.

    Lightly butter the griddle. Wipe off thoroughly with a paper towel. (No butter should be visible.)

    Gently ladle the pancake batter onto the griddle and sprinkle on fruit if desired. When bubbles begin to set around the edges of the pancake and the griddle-side of the cake is golden, gently flip the pancakes. Continue to cook 2 to 3 minutes or until the pancake is set.

    Serve immediately or remove to a towel-lined baking sheet and cover with a towel. Hold in a warm place for 20 to 30 minutes.

    Yield: 12 pancakes

    NOTE: though I have not tried this recipe before, the reason to make you own instant mix is two-fold: 1) it is fun, 2) mixes made by hand are generally healthier. Most store bought mixes are extremely high in sodium and sugar to make up for their age and shoddy contents. Their recipes can also call for a lot more butter/oil, again, to make up for the taste of old ingredients. This can be a nice weekend project–maybe have some volunteers create the mix for the main meal and some other volunteers create individual batches to sell or auction off during the dinner. See this sales site for some nice decorating ideas.

    Gluten-Free Latke Recipe

    Here is the Gluten-Free Latke recipe some of my wonderful volunteers came up with that day:

    Latke Recipe (created on February 20th 2007 by Jessica, Kaitin, Steven & Alex)

    1 tbsp. cooking oil
    2 tbsp. sugar
    1 egg
    1.5 c. water
    1.5 c. sliced or grated potato (dry)
    1 c. gluten flour
    1 tbsp. baking powder
    .5 tsp. salt

    In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix the oil and honey. Add the egg and the milk and beat until well combined using an egg beater (or a whisk or a spoon). Add the dry ingredients and beat the mixture just until the batter is smooth. Grease an electric skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil and heat to 375 degrees. Use about .25 cup batter for each pancake. Cook until the edges look a bit dry, then flip over and cook about 1.5 minutes longer.

    Final word

    I also have an amount calculator (input number of guests and it outputs a shopping list) but I am having trouble uploading it right now, so leave me a comment and I’ll post it/send it to you.

    And remember, just like anything else, be flexible. If there won’t be enough of your prized pancake batter your sweated blood to produce, sigh and move on to the Just-Add-Water stuff. The most important thing is that you are feeding people who need to be fed.

    Inspirational Quote:

    “The day before the beginning of Lent is known as Shrove Tuesday. To shrive someone, in old-fashioned English (he shrives, he shrove, he has shriven or he shrives, he shrived, he has shrived), is to hear his acknowledgement [sic] of his sins, to assure him of God’s forgiveness, and to give him appropriate spiritual advice. The term survives today in ordinary usage in the expression “short shrift”. To give someone short shrift is to pay very little attention to his excuses or problems. The longer expression is, ‘to give him short shrift and a long rope,’ which formerly meant to hang a criminal with a minimum of delay.” Etymology of Shrove.


    1. Hi,
      We are thinking of doing a Shrove Tuesday dinner for the first time so your website was just what I was looking for. I was especially intrigued by the thought of trying the yeast pancakes but the list of ingredients appears to be missing – same for the instant pancakes. I’d appreciate knowing the full recipes. Thanks.

    2. Hello! Our church is planning our first pancake breakfast for May 17, 2008. We are having a hard time figuring up how much of everthing to get. We are doing the pancakes from a box mix. This is all to raise money for a new building that will be beside our church. We will to a list of what we need and post it and church memebers donate the items. I am very interested in your amount calculater. Maybe that will help us figure things out. If you could email me that and any other advice that would be great! Thank you so much!! Amy

    3. Hi Amy,

      Thank you so much for reading my blog! I’ve attached the calculator.
      It is in an open source format (NeoOffice for Macs, Open Office for
      PCs. Star Office would open it as well. Microsoft Office will not.)
      which is free to download and set up, but will take a little bit of
      time and some bandwidth. However NeoOffice is the exact same as Word,
      except free to own and update. Here it is to download:

      If you want to stick with using the Microsoft Office suite, you won’t
      be able to use this calculator. However there is another option:

      Take all of these amounts:

      .5 strawberries
      .25 cups syrup
      1 tbs powdered sugar
      1 ounce chocolate chips
      .25 cups apple sauce
      .25 cups apple juice/orange juice/water
      3 pancakes
      3 sausages

      and multiply them by your top expected number of attendees. If you
      have a just-add-water pancake mix, figure out how many servings of
      pancakes (the back of the box should be in servings and batches) you
      will need for the number of people you want. If you are using a
      pancake mix which requires wet ingredients to be added, add those in
      as well. For example, if you were serving 100 people you would wnat to

      50 strawberries
      25 cups of syrup (check one bottle of syrup for how many cups it has
      an divide 25 by that number)
      100 tbs powdered sugar (ie, 6.34 cups)
      100 ounces chocolate chips (ie, 6.86 lbs)
      25 cups of apple sauce (see instructions for syrup)
      25 cups apple juice/orange juice/water
      300 pancakes
      300 sausages

      You can use a website like this for your conversions:

      So there is a 5 step process:
      1) decide how many people you will target to feed,
      2) decide how much you will feed each of them,
      3) multiply each item of a serving by population size,
      3) convert those numbers into usable amounts (ie, 100 ounces into lbs),
      5) find out what the average container of each item is (ie, a standard
      bag of sugar is ____ lbs).

      If you do each of these, you should have it easy.

      I have found in the fundraisers I have done, many times not nickel and
      diming people over what they eat makes them more generous in the
      auction/book sale/raffle which you actually use to fundraise. It also
      saves on staffing to just let people into the parish hall rather than
      force them to wait out in the cold/heat to pay their $5 a person.

      Anyhoo, I would love to hear how this goes! If you post pictures,
      please link me–I’d love to see how other’s handled my instructions.
      Also, please see my follow up post. St Andrews of Los Gatos in
      California used them to great success.

    4. Thanks for taking the time and care to post this “How To” guide. Frankly it’s the only guide I saw via Google. Last night our vestry discussed resuming the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, but no one would take charge – big surprise ? So suffering from some sort of temporary insanity, I jumped into the breach. Now I have about a month to get ready. Your guide has helped ease the panic which had quickly followed the insanity. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your gift.

    5. THANKS for the wealth of information about Shrove Tuesday’s traditional pancake supper!! My family lives in rural Georgia, USA, and we attend a small Methodist church. Our pastor suggested this activity as a fundraiser for our youth program, and as the youth leader, the responsibility of getting this program off the ground rests on my shoulders. I am much more confident about the success of our supper after reading this 🙂

    6. Yes we are on our 2nd Annual Shrove Tuesday event ofr our seniors progrm in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I used this blog last year to keep me calm…and here we go again…Please keep it current as others try it…a

    7. I would like to know how many ounces of syrup and butter to allow per person. I have been stuck with organizing this year and no one seems to know, all I get is ‘buy two large bottles of syrup’ (but discrepancies as to whether large means 750 ml or 1.5 l) and ‘oh 3 or 4 lbs of butter should do.’

    8. I would measure 1 tbs butter and 3 of syrup. That is, 1 1/4 lb of butter per 8 person table and 1 bottle of syrup (1.5 l) for 16 people. Write back if that helps.

    9. I am hosting a pancake breakfast for 300 people. We will have pancakes, sausage, bacon, fruit and juice. I would love to see your shopping list.

    10. Hmm, Kymber, I’m not sure if I have it. I think if you reverse-engineer the ingredients per person, it should help. Thank you!

    11. Thank you for all this information. My Church in Cornwall UK is having a Shrove Tuesday Pancake evening and it has been most useful.

    Get in touch

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