Saturday, September 15, 2007

Flattest Pancakes

What my Aunt L. calls "Dutch pancakes" are, it turns out, what the Hungarians call palacsinta: a large thin pancake, slightly sturdier than a crepe but filled with a similarly vast array of sweets & savories. My dough-bespattered heirloom version of the Mennonite cookbook More-with-Less calls them "Grandmother's Russian Pancakes (Pflinzin)" (but I thin that recipe down to make them suit me -- so maybe the real Russian thing is distinct). In good "more-with-less" spirit, I use extra eggs, whole wheat flour and flax meal to bulk up the cakes' nutritional value. I've made these for Saturday breakfasts and Thursday suppers since I was a gal of 12.

Whisk 5 eggs, 1 c. milk, a pint of white whole wheat flour, and 1/4-1/2 c. flax meal to a pourable consistency. Adjust the milk to make it so, and be sure to whisk away all the lumps. Fortunately, this is the sort of batter that can tolerate numerous edits -- and the first few pancakes are for experimental purposes, anyhow.

Heat your cast iron skillet(s) to a nice medium and, if you've been lucky enough to find a friend who gives you homemade ghee, put a teaspoon in the skillet. I'm not usually a fan of moderation in fats, but these pancakes cook better if the fat is minimal (after the first couple, I re-grease between every 3 or 4 cakes). If it's nice & sizzly, get a good mitted grip on your skillet and pour 1/3 cup of batter into the middle with your free hand. Immediately lift the skillet high and tilt & twist it so the batter spreads out into a perfect circle as thin as the batter will go. Tilt it back & forth so the batter's all even, and replace it on the heat. Watch it closely! As soon as the top no longer appears gooey wet, loosen it up and flip it over. It should be perfectly golden at this point -- calibrate your heat accordingly. Give it a bit on the other side, and when it's got golden spots, toss it onto a plate & cover with a tea towel. The whole process takes just a handful of seconds -- which is convenient when the Jehovah's Witnesses come knocking and you need a non-confrontational expedient escape. Repeat until the batter's exhausted, editing with milk and flour as you go (it often gets thicker at the bottom).

Serve the towering mound of pancakes with butter, jams, yogurt, honey, maple syrup, and any savory fillings you may have cooked up (this morning it was a fantastic pork gravy with sage & smoked paprika to make it reminiscent of sausage) (I am so sorry, L. Joy, for being so clattery and noisy in the kitchen when you were sleeping on the living room floor this morning. Thank goodness you have a plush queensized bed of your own now).

Aunt L. taught me this super-elegant trick for eating the pancakes: spread the whole disk with your favorite toppings. Then thread the bottom tine of your fork through the right edge of the cake just like a needle -- in and out -- and deftly twist the handle of your fork so the pancake spins itself up into a tight little roll around the fork. Slide your fork out and cut it into dainty morsels. Some folks stack multiple pancakes with different fillings between each layer, and H. Rose always eats hers like burritos -- with her hands, maple syrup running to her elbows.

3 comments:

Amy said...

Hey cousin! This is the best -- I adore thin Dutch pancakes and never have figured out how to make them myself. I can't wait to try your recipe and have scrawled it in the margins of my datebook. You know where else they have good, thin pancakes? Alaska. Very thin sourdough-tasting ones. So yummy after a night in a tent.

I'm so happy to have found your blog; your writing is wonderful, as always. Warmly, Amy

Zac said...

what is your mailing address?

Zan said...

Amy -- do let me know how they turn out for you! And sourdough? That's worthy of some investigation.... Hope you're all well!