Mr. Scrumptious and I revere Pannekoek. Literally translated, they mean "pan cakes" and are South African from Dutch roots, of course. They are like crêpes when sweet, also very much like galettes when savory, but are not made of buckwheat flour. They are like thin pancakes (not flapjacks) or German Pfannkuchen. No matter the language, the country or the filling, there is something immensely satisfying, comforting and delicious about making a bowl of light and airy batter which you can turn into a soft and delicate snack, meal, appetizer or entree filled with your favorite savory stuffings. Or your favorite sweet accents for desserts.
The sheer magnitude of variations left up to your imagination and edible wares and stores? Bliss!! This is not something I grew up making in my family. This is not something my parents grew up making in their families. In the States, it's usually pancakes or flapjacks, which mean thick and heavy and topped with butter, syrup or fruit. These little babies are delicate and light, really meant to ensconce whatever beauty or treasure you tuck inside or eat with them.
Mr. Scrumptious grew up eating these, as basic as flapjacks to kids from the States and his family always dusted them with cinnamon and sugar. When I lived in Germany for a couple of years, I had them with sprinklings of confectioner's sugar and squeezes of fresh lemon juice. Trust me, that's AMAZING. So, a few months ago on a Sunday night we decided to make them. We had so much fun standing at the stove together, making the pannekoek one at a time and eating them right there standing over the counter. We'd make one and dust it with cinnamon and sugar, split it in half and each have a piece. The next one would be confectioner's sugar and lemon we'd cut in half and share. And Repeat. We did this for nearly an hour. We had so much fun, loving the intimacy, the playfulness and the simplicity of the delicious food.
Oh, it is so joyful to make these, to stuff or accent as you wish and to share them with someone you love. There are few expressions of love that are quite as simple and powerful as making food together and feeding each other by hand. Unfortunately, I only photographed the food, we didn't get any feeding shots. Probably best.
Our recipe, however, is from an Afrikaans cookbook. That means it's only in metric system and I'm translating as I go. You may want to find an imperial version out there. Otherwise, pull out your handy kitchen scale that converts between metric and imperial and you're all set.
Makes 8-10 large pancakes
250 ml flour
1 ml baking powder
2.5 ml (1/2 t.) salt
250 ml milk
2 small eggs
cinnamon-sugar if desired
1. Add flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and stir with a spoon to mix. Put in the milk and eggs and whisk until very smooth and the lumps are gone from the batter. Whisk genty, you don't want to make the batter stiff, just light and fully mixed.
2. Cover the batter with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Letting it stand for at least 4 hours is better, it helps make the batter fluffier.
3. Heat a large non-stick skillet over low-medium heat and add nonstick spray or a little margarine, depending on your preference. Pour a very thin layer of batter in the pan when hot and tilt the pan to evenly coat the bottom of the pan. Wait a couple of minutes until the first side is golden brown and comes free of the pan.
4. If you're Mr. Scrumptious, pull the skillet off the stovetop, turn sideways, stick out your tongue in concentration and toss the pannekoek in the air, flipping with your wrist and making it land on the opposite side. Giggle whether success or failure at this point. Cook the other side until very light brown and then slide onto a plate.
5. Dust your sweet topping of choice or fill with a savory stuffing of your choice and roll the pannekoek up into a long, thin tube. Eat directly or cut in half and mouth-feed your loved one.
6. Repeat until you've eaten every last bite and don't wipe that smile off your face for the rest of the day!
We had three varieties: 1) cinammon and sugar 2) powdered sugar and lemon juice and 3) mushroom, leeks, basil and pinenuts with a tomato-garlic-cream dipping sauce. On the savory ones, I did lightly saute the mushrooms and leeks first and used toasted pinenuts. I left the basil raw for maximum flavor. I didn't note the measurements for any of the fillings. Just use your tastebuds and your judgement and you'll be fine. Have fun!