Crêpes vs. European pancakes vs. US pancakes... First of all, "pan cakes" (baked in pans or on stones) are probably the earliest and most widespread cereal food eaten around the world since prehistoric times. The pancake's shape and texture varies around the world. The biggest difference between "crȇpes" and other pancakes, is that crȇpe batter has to rest for hours before use, whereas regular pancake batter is used immediately. And crêpes are from a specific region (Brittany); they are thin, and are cooked on one side or both.
"American" pancakes are basically just large Scottish pancakes, a.k.a. drop(ped) scones. They have the same basic ingredients as their "European" roots (flour, eggs, milk, butter). However, they also have a rising ingredient - usually large amounts of baking soda or powder. This type of pancake is thick, fluffy, and small (6-8 inch, 15-20 cm). In the US, they are usually served at breakfast only. A couple of "fancy" US pancake recipes are here.
Where I come from (The Netherlands), pancakes are eaten for lunch or dinner. And often just one, as they are quite large (at least 30 cm, 12 inch). Fillings (not necessarily toppings!) include sliced apples, cheese, ham, bacon, and candied ginger - alone or in combination. If you have the opportunity to visit the historic town of Delft in the Netherlands (home of my alma mater, the Technical University of Delft, TUD), be sure to have a wonderful Dutch pancake at the renowned "Stads-Koffyhuis". You can choose from two dozen different pancakes, but the "cheese & ginger" pancake remains my favorite (with extra ginger, please!)
What type of pancake is "best"? That all depends on your taste. For most people, this is simply (and unfortunately) determined by what they grew up with. As we say back home: "what a peasant doesn't know, he won't eat!". I do know how I like my pancakes! And the only way to make decent pancakes, is from scratch! No pancake-mix stuff please!!!
Stacks, pie piece, so everyone gets part of all of them (and at the same time), plus the layer effect with cheese in-between.
- Preparation time: 20 minutes
- Baking time: 45 minutes
- Makes 6-8 large pancakes
- Freezes well.
- ½ liter milk (2 cups)
- 4-5 eggs
- 180 grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour (D: type 550; F: type 55)
- 100 grams (½ cup) buckwheat flour (D: Buchweizen; F: sarrasin, blé noir)
- 80 grams (¾ cups) chopped walnuts
- 150 grams (1 cup) stem ginger in syrup (see photo below), diced, plus 2-3 tablespoons of the syrup
- What is commonly called ginger "root" is actually not a root, but a "stem". First of all, it does not perform the function of roots (i.e., anchorage and absorption of water and nutrients) but provides storage of food for the plant. Also, it has (inter)nodes. More precisely: it is a "rhizome", i.e., a continuously growing horizontal stem, that puts out lateral shoots and adventitious roots at intervals.
- Stem ginger is young ginger, that has not yet become fibrous, tough, and hard. It is milder than the rest of the "root". This is the choice piece of the stem of the ginger plant. It is peeled and preserved in sugar syrup, or candied (crystallized ginger).
- Australia and China are major producers
- 150 grams (1 cup) dark raisins, soaked in hot water and drained
- I definitely prefer "Thompson" raisins over "Sultanas"
- 250 grams (about 3 cups, 2 firm apples such as Jonagold), peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- 250 grams (2 cups) coarsely grated cheese, e.g., Gruyère (not artificial characterless "Swiss" cheese from the USA)
- 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
- 1½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 1½ teaspoon lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg or 1 tablespoon Cointreau liqueur
- 2 teaspoons baking powder (D: Backpulver; F: levure chimique)
- Pinch of salt
- Optional: small pieces of bacon strip (to fry in the pan before adding the batter)
EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES
- Medium size bowl
- Wire whisk
- Large bowl
- Large frying pan
- Frying pan flipper (thin spatula)
- 2 large plates (same size as the frying pan)
PREPARATION / DIRECTIONS
- Put the flour (regular + buckwheat) in the medium size bowl and whisk (to loosen up the flour and eliminate clumps, if any. This is a lot quicker and easier (incl. cleaning) than using a sifter).
- In the large bowl, briefly beat the eggs
- Add the milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt, while continuing to beat (medium speed)
- Add the flour, while continuing to beat, until a smooth batter is obtained. Avoid over-mixing: this can lead to rubbery pancakes.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter, and briefly mix in with the batter
- Fold in the ginger, ginger syrup, soaked raisins, apple slices
- Put the large plate in the middle of the oven, and pre-heat the oven to about 85 °C (180 °F)
- Repeat until the batter is used up:
- Heat the frying pan over medium-high heat until a small dollop of batter dropped in makes a sizzling noise. This is easiest on a gas stove...
- Lower the heat to medium (these pancakes are relatively thick and take time), add batter, and see how it cooks.
- By the time the edges of the pancake become dry, small bubbles will start to form in the batter and collapse. With a flipper, carefully lift up the pancake and check the underside: it should be golden brown.
- Flip the pancake over, and cook until golden brown on both sides.
- You may try and toss the pancake in the air and try to catch it upside-down with the frying pan, without breaking the pancake and making a mess of your kitchen.
- I simply slide the pancake from the frying pan onto a large plate (or the flat lid of a large saucepan or frying pan), and then hold the frying pan at an angle and flip the plate with the pancake so as to drop the pancake into the frying pan.
- Put the pancake on plate that is in the oven and sprinkle some cheese over it.
One of my pancake stacks
SERVING & GARNISH SUGGESTIONS
- Serve pie-wedges from the stack, with maple syrup (D: Ahornsirup; F: sirop d'érable)
©1987-2016 F. Dörenberg, unless stated otherwise. All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be used without permission from the author.