Frying pans at the ready, flour, vanilla and eggs are whisked, fried, and topped with a spritz of lemon and dusting of sugar. Shrove Tuesday brings together a taste of sweetness on a particular day of each year in February. Growing up as a young child and adult, my mum would embrace Shrove Tuesday with open arms as my dad adored my mums’ pancakes. She would make a huge stack of pancakes and present them with a bowl of sugar and a newly purchased Jif lemon bottle (it always had to be a Jif lemon and never a fresh spritz). Mum would always offer up, fresh fruit and berries or Nutella but my dad, sister and I would always opt for the classic bitter sweetness of citrus and sugar. To this day this would still be my topping of choice, simple it very much best!

Shrove Tuesday always falls on the seventh Tuesday before Easter and the day before Ash Wednesday which signifies the beginning of Lent. Shrove Tuesday is when many years ago you would use up all your fats and sugars which then leads to the beginning of Lent which was a period of fasting and change for the next 40 days.

This year the 40 days of Lent runs from Wednesday 22nd February to Thursday 6th April. Did you ever or do you give anything up during this period? As a family we would not eat meat on a Friday, as my sister and I got a little older, we would then choose to give something up, normally chocolate (under huge protest).

For the Christian and Roman Catholic calendar, Lent is a period where we tend to reflect, pray a little more in an unselfish manner, fast from various foods and drinks and from all festivities.

Now as an adult I always give up multiple items from treats, to wine, bread or pasta, generally for selfish reasons, for example weight loss as the menopause had hit me like a bus! As a mum to four, I always ask my children if they’d like to give anything up or if they would like to carry out a positive task each day instead? I tend to leave it to them to decide and only if they want too. Modern times have changed this period of time. A positive task could be anything from helping around the house more often, to taking a daily walk, taking selfcare breaks daily or just to be kind to others. Again as I mentioned above with Shrove Tuesday, I prefer simplicity, that is also echoed throughout Lent, being kind and positive for 40 days would become a daily activity that would easily go beyond the 40 days and become a habit in life. So, this year I will be carrying out selfcare each day whether that is a face mask, a walk, a little reading, or mindful cooking, alongside that I will be giving up all sweet things and being kind (I’d like to think I’m always kind). So , roll on Easter Sunday and the welcoming visit from the bonny eater bunny.

Here are my favourites biscuits to make through the Lent period, these make and keep to are wonderful to be made as gifts, for your kindness through Lent.

Polenta and raisin-soaked grappa biscuits

Texture, colour, and aroma. These biscuits have all three in abundance and they keep so well too. A firm favourite of mine. If you prefer no alcohol just steep the raisins in either fruit juice or boiled water.


Pre-heat oven: 170C (fan-assisted)

Chilling time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Bake: 15 minutes


50g raisins

50ml grappa (or any alcohol you would prefer)

125g polenta

125g 00 flour or plain flour

½ tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

80g butter, small cubes

100g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1 lemon zest


  1. Soak the raisins in the grappa with 4 tbsp hot water and cover. Leave for 30 minutes to plump up.
  2. In a large bowl combine the polenta, flour, baking powder and salt. Stir.
  3. In another bowl, work the cubed butter with the sugar using your fingers tips, then mix in the whole egg and yolk.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture along with the vanilla and lemon zest.
  5. Drain and add the raisins to the mixture.
  6. Knead on a lightly floured board to incorporate.
  7. Wrap and rest for an hour in the fridge.
  8. Make a roll of dough, 3-5cm in diameter and cut them on the diagonal every 7cm and shape into ovals.
  9. Place on a lined baking sheet and chill for 15 minutes before baking for 15 minutes.

These keep for 3 weeks wrapped well in an airtight container. Also, I always use salted butter, so I omit the pinch of salt.