Saturday, 21 February 2015

Ukrainian Pancake Topping for Butter Week

I know that Shrove Tuesday has been and gone and those that are sacrificing something for Lent are well on their road to abstinence by now. 

But just to end the week with, here is my article about Masnytsya (aka Butter Week) which is celebrated in the Ukraine and other Eastern European countries.  It gives another dimension of how ‘Pancake Day’ is celebrated which I hope you will enjoy reading about.

I know that for some, may be due to work/family commitments, having pancakes on the weekend after Shrove Tuesday is more practical and if this is the case for you, featured below is my recipe for a Ukrainian Style Pancake Topping which you may wish to try. 

The article and the recipe were both recently featured in the Ukrainian Thought newspaper which is printed in the UK.


The prelude to Lent is marked worldwide with celebrations such as Shrove Tuesday (UK) and Mardi Gras (France), endorsed and feted quite ardently.  Known internationally in its more common guise as ‘Pancake Day’, Eastern European communities have their own version referred to widely as ‘Butter Week’ or in Ukrainian as Масниця (Masnytsya).


Customarily celebrated in the last week before Great Lent, as well as it being considered and used to mark the end of the winter season, Masnystsya mirrors other global pre-Lent festivities.  It is the last opportunity to have those products that are traditionally forbidden during Lent, namely dairy products such as milk, butter and cheese. 

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In addition, if observed fully, all kinds of gaiety such as parties, music and dancing are also forbidden during Lent, so the Masnytsya period acts as the last occasion for these activities.

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Masnytsya is still enjoyed in the Ukraine and encompasses historic rituals being played out such as the creation of a straw mascot called a Kostroma, (similar to a scarecrow), which is dressed up in brightly coloured clothing.  Tradition has it that the clothing is taken off and then the Kostroma is burned on the flames of a bonfire.  Ashes from which are then buried in the snow in a bid to fertilise the crops.  With snow so often still abundant in the Ukraine at this time, Masnytsya also includes snow-led merriment such as snowball fights and sledging.


Even if celebrating Masnytsya cannot be experienced identically as it is in the Ukraine, it can still be marked by way of feasting.  As is the case for Shrove Tuesday celebrations, pancakes are the main characteristic food for Masnystya.  


Pancakes are enjoyed at this time (either savoury or sweet) and if wishing to replicate a taste of the Ukraine, you can choose toppings such as cheese or mushrooms as well as traditional sour cream and fruit syrups/jams which are used extensively throughout Ukrainian cuisine.

Pancakes with Sour Cream & Cherry Jam

Ukrainian Style Pancake Topping

4-6 pancakes (made by hand or purchased ready-to-eat)
150ml Sour Cream
2 tsp Caster Sugar
2 tsp Cherry Jam


·       Mix the caster sugar with the sour cream until fully combined.

·       Heat the jam a little until it becomes warm and slightly runny.

·       Ensure the pancakes are warm prior to eating.

·       Pour the cream over the pancakes and top with the warm jam.






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