Welcome to Our Pancake Blog

Welcome to Our Pancake Blog!

So, what does a married couple with no children and free time do? Why think of creative ways to eat of course. So begins the Around the World in Pancake Sundays project.

One day while eating pancakes made from sprouted wheat and chocolate chips, we started talking about how fun it would be to eat a different type of pancake each Sunday. I know, you must be stuck on the whole sprouted wheat pancakes. I'm sure many are thinking eeeeewwww, sounds yucky right now. However, they are actually quite tasty. We were given our first taste of them by a friend last New Year's Eve (well, technically the morning after New Year's Eve). We were so enamored of them that we went searching for our own sprouted wheat to make some for ourselves a couple of months later.

O.K., enough digressing. While eating the above mentioned pancakes, the conversation started about eating a different type of pancake each Sunday. We began to wonder if we could find a different type of pancake for each Sunday for a whole year. So we set ourselves the challenge of finding a unique pancake recipe to try out each Sunday.

We continued to talk about this idea for the next couple of weeks. We started thinking about how most cultures actually have their own versions of pancakes. This led us to try to find a pancake from each country in the world. We finally began our project last Sunday, and decided to chronicle it here in this blog.

So welcome to our pancake blog, we hope you enjoy it as much as we are sure to enjoy making and eating them! Heck, we hope you make some and enjoy them too!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

More crepes? We think not!

We've arrived in Finland where, like many European nations, they do actually eat crepes.  However, we soon learned that they also have their own unique baked pancake called an Aland pancake.  It's called this because it comes from the Aland region of Finland.  This region isn't a part of mainland Finland.  It is a group of islands in the Baltic Sea.  Also, in addition to this being a baked pancake, the Finnish people call their pancakes pannukakku.

We discovered many different ways of making pannukakku, each involving different types of grains.  We found some of them use regular all purpose flour, while others use rice or semolina flour in combination with all purpose flour.  We opted for a recipe that used a combination of semolina flour and all purpose flour.  Here is what you'll need to make the version of Finnish pannukakku that we made:

4 cups of milk
1/3 cup of semolina flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1/2 cup of sugar
1 cup of flour
1 tablespoon cardamom
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup of raisins (optional, we opted not to have them since I don't enjoy dried fruit)
3 tablespoons melted butter
Fresh strawberries or other seasonal fruit (optional)
Whipping cream (optional)

Be sure to start this recipe early, because there is some cooling time involved, and a long cook time.  In all, the prep time was about 1 1/2 hours.  Much of that time is just sitting and waiting for things to cool and cook, but plan accordingly.  To make pannukakku, you will first need to measure out your milk and semolina flour:


 Then heat the milk until it is boiling.  You will probably need to stir frequently so that the milk doesn't burn in the bottom of the pot.


Once the milk is boiling, add the semolina and salt.  Reduce the heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  At the end of 10 minutes, you will have a thick porridge like mixture that looks like this:


Let this mixture cool completely to room temperature (it takes about 20 - 30 minutes for it to cool).  Once it's cool, preheat your oven to 392 F.  Yes, you read that correctly, 392.  This didn't work well for you, so we just turned our oven to where we though 392 would be.


While the oven is preheating, melt your butter and prepare your pan.  You can use an 8-inch square or 9-inch round baking pan with sides.  Cut parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan.  As Sam said while we were doing this, use your inner 5  year old for this process:


Next melt the butter, and brush the parchment paper and sides of the pan with the melted butter.  You probably won't use all of the butter.


Now it's time to place all of the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and give them a whisk.  Everything doesn't need to be incorporated when you whisk, just whisk enough to get the eggs somewhat mixed in.



 Now it's time to add the cooked semolina and milk.  This is how thick it gets once it cools.


Add the cooked semolina to your bowl, and mix until you have a smooth batter.


Now place it in your buttered baking dish and cook for 30-50 minutes until the top is golden brown.


When your pannukakku is close to being finished, cut up some fresh strawberries for on top.


Warning, this pancake will puff up and then deflate.  Here are some pictures showing what happens:





Let the pannakakku cool for 10-15 minutes, then slice and serve.  I have to share that my first slice out of the pannakakku didn't look so pretty.


My next two slices did though.  Put the strawberries on top and serve while warm.


You can see that we drizzled honey around the outside of the plate, but I wouldn't advise this.  The honey flavor doesn't go well with the cardamom flavor in this pancake.  However, it was a very tasty pancake without the honey.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

We've arrived in the lands of the Fs - We're in Fiji

Before we start talking about Fijian pancakes, did you know that February is National Pancake Month here in the states?  Neither did we.  Apparently it is though.  Sam also wanted me to mention that we made dessert "pancakes" this morning as well.  I use quotation marks because they aren't really pancakes that we made for dessert, but chocolate chip cookies that were really yummy.  Check out the recipe at Serious Eats if you have a chance.  For those who are science minded, you can view how they came up with this cookie recipe here

O.K., now back to pancake blogging.  We find ourselves finally beginning the Fs.  In Fiji we discovered that their version of pancakes is roti.  Roti is a roll out style pancake that actually comes from India.  We learned as we researched Fijian roti that comes from Indian contract laborers who were brought to the country in the 19th century.  Fijians typically eat their roti with some sort of curry.  We opted to make a potato curry to eat with our roti.

For those unfamiliar with roti, it is basically what we in Southern California or Central America would call a flour tortilla.  The ingredients and approach to making them are pretty much the same.  Also, if you've read any of our other posts on roll out style pancakes, you know that they pretty much never turn out for us.  Knowing this about our attempts to make roll out style pancakes, we entered into our morning of pancake plans with a back up plan for breakfast.  Keep reading to find out whether or not we had to use our back up plan.

To make Fijian roti, you'll need the following:

all purpose flour
boiling water
salt
vegetable oil

Did you notice I didn't include any amounts for the recipe?  I deliberately didn't do this.  In our research, I found two websites that I liked for this recipe.  The first one had lots of great pictures for what the roti making process should look like, but it didn't have any ingredient amounts listed.  The second one didn't have photos, but it did have ingredient amounts.  I opted to use the directions from the site that had the ingredient amounts, and this is what I ended up with:


It was a gloppy mess that ended up in the trash.  Even after I added extra flour, it was still a mess.  You're supposed to get a soft, rollable dough.  So, I went back to the site that had lots of photos, and followed their instructions even though there weren't amounts listed.  I figured that at least I had photos to compare mine too, and I could adjust flour and water amounts until I got it looking the right way.  As we go, I'll give rough amounts of what I used.  Before making the roti though, you'll want to make your potato curry.  Here's what you'll need for potato curry:

1/2 of a large yellow onion
1 large potato
curry spice
turmeric
cinnamon
cumin
oil for cooking

First you'll want to chop your onions and caramelize them in oil in a frying pan. They should be golden brown by the time they're done.



Next you'll need to cube your potato and fry it up as well.


Fry these up in a little bit of olive oil as well.  When the potatoes are about halfway cooked, add the spices.  I just sprinkled the various spices and mixed them up until the potatoes were evenly covered.  Finish cooking the potatoes until soft and nicely browned.

While your potato curry is cooking, you can begin making your roti.  I started out with about 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour in a bowl large enough for mixing and kneading.


Next you'll add your boiling water (about 1 cup) a little bit at a time, stirring it into the flour with a wooden spoon until you get a rough ball of dough.



After you have a rough ball, you'll need to let it cool for a few minutes before you begin kneading the dough.  Once it is warm to the touch, you can begin kneading the dough.  Unfortunately, Sam seems to have wandered out of the kitchen at this point, so we don't have any pictures of what the kneaded ball of dough should look like.  However you can look at Fiji Diaries blog to see what the kneaded dough should look like.  Also, I had to add about another cup of flour to my dough so that it wasn't sticky.  Once the dough is smooth, you'll also have to knead in some oil, I added about 1/8 of a cup.

Once you have a smooth dough, lightly flour a flat surface.  You're now ready to begin rolling out your roti.  Pinch off a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball and roll it into a ball.  Place it on the floured surface and sprinkle with a little bit of flour.


Begin rolling out your roti from the middle, and rotate 90 degrees after each roll.


Keep rolling until thin and flat.  Once it is thin and flat, place it on a heated grill pan and cook until it begins to puff up.  Flip and cook on the other side (about 2-3 minutes per side).



Remove from heat and keep warm on a plate covered with a clean towel until all of your roti are cooked.  This recipe made about 8 roti.

Once you're roti are all cooked, place some curried potatoes in the middle of a roti, roll up, and eat.




These were delish!



Sunday, January 5, 2014

Pancakes = E Squared - We're on to Eritrea and Ethiopia

I'll start this post off by saying I forgot to mention in our last post on Estonia why we skipped Eritrea and moved on to Estonia.  The reason for this was because we couldn't find teff flour anywhere locally.  Also, because the Eritrean pancake batter takes 3 days to ferment and we just didn't have the time to do this, we decided to move on to Estonia temporarily.

However, this weekend we not only had our teff flour in hand, but we also had the 3 days it takes to make these pancakes.  So we're now off to Eritrea and Ethiopia.  We've decided to consider these pancakes both Eritrean and Ethiopian for many reasons.  Here they are:

  1. Eritrea and Ethiopia both make a bready pancake called injera.
  2. Both of their injera recipes call for teff flour
  3. Everytime I looked up the recipe I used for the lentil stew to go with it, some of the recipes that would show up were listed as Eritrean, and some of them were listed as Ethiopian.
  4. Both countries use a sour teff batter to make their respective injera.
  5. And last, they are right next to each other on the map.  So my assumption is going to be that each country's respective injera recipe is basically the same and stems from similar cultural and food avialbility in the region.
Now some might argue that injera is actually a bread because it has yeast in it, but I would argue that it's not since it doesn't have the stretchy bread dough that bread is usually made from.  This is definitely a batter.  I would agree with what many call it, which is a flat bread, but techinically, isn't a pancake a flat form of bread also? 

O.K., now we're ready to dig into making injera and it's accompanying tsebhi bersen (lentil stew).  You will need 3 days to make the injera.  So if you want injera for Sunday, you need to start making the injera batter by early afternoon on Friday.  To make the injera, you will need the following ingredients:

3 1/2 cups of teff flour
1 cup of all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of yeast
4 1/2 cups of water
1 teaspoon of salt

1 additional cup of water for day 3, plus extra for thinning if necessary.

Now on to making your batter.  First, I have to start off and say that we didn't order enough teff flour.  We thought we did, but when we actually began measuring it out, we only had 3 cups of teff flour.  So I just added an extra half cup of regular all purpose flour to balance out the amount.  I'm sure this changed it a bit; however, since I ran across many different recipes that used different variations of the teff to all purpose flour ratio, I felt O.K. in doing this and not postponing it for another week while we waited for more teff flour to arrive. I probably wouldn't substitute more than 1/2 cup that I did though.  Also, you technically should let your batter catch wild yeast from the air to make true injera.  However, I didn't want to take the chance that there might not be any or enough wild yeast floating around my house.  So I decided to add some yeast to get things started.

On day 1 of the process, this is what you'll want to do:








As you can see in the above pictures, I added the first 5 ingredients to a large bowl and gave them a whisk until I had a smooth batter.  After you have a smooth batter, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it set aside to ferment for the rest of day 1 and all of day 2.  As the days go by, you should notice a dark brownish liquid starting to form on top of the batter.  It's a little bit hard to see through the plastic wrap though.


On day 3, you're ready to start making tsebhi bersen and injera.  I would start with making the tsebhi bersen, as it takes an hour to cook it.  While it's cooking, you can finish preparing the injera batter and cook the injera, and it should all finish up about the same time.  So, to make tsebhi bersen, you will need the following:

250 grams of red lentils
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons of berbere spice mix
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon of cumin
1/2 teaspoon of cardamom
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 cups of boiling water + more to add as necessary to make sure the lentils are cooked all the way through

The first thing you'll need to do is chop your onions and fry them in the vegetable oil until they are golden brown and soft.  I used a large saute style pan that had a lid.  Make sure your pan has a lid that can cover the top.  You'll need it later.   In the picture below, my onions aren't quite done yet.


Once your onions are cooked, add the berbere spice and cook for about 5 minutes.


While this is cooking for 5 minutes, you can crush your garlic.  We are cheap and lazy when it comes to garlic, so we just buy the big jar of chopped garlic at Costco and use it for everything.  I'm sure fresh garlic would have more flavor, but as I said, we're cheap and lazy.  So, I took my three cloves of chopped garlic and put it in my mortar so that I could crush it.  Here it is pre-crushing.


By the time you're finished crushing your garlic, 5 minutes should be up.  Now you're ready to add the tomatoes, cumin, cardamom, and garlic to the pan.



Give it all a stir, and let it cook for another 5 minutes.  Make sure to get your three cups of water boiling during this time.  When 5 minutes are up, add the red lentils and 3 cups of boiling water.  Mix it all up, cover it, and let it simmer for 1 hour.  You'll want to check every 15 minutes or so to make sure that it hasn't cooked completely dry before the lentils are cooked all the way.  I had to add about another 1/2 cup of hot water.


When it's finished cooking, this is what it will look like:


While the tsebhi bersen is cooking, you can finish preparing the injera batter.  First, uncover the batter and pour off the brown water that is on top.


Now bring 1 cup of water to a boil.


Once it's boiling, add 1/2 cup of the teff batter to the water, whisking constantly until it's a thick consistency.


Now set it aside for about 10-15 minutes and let it cool down until it's lukewarm.  As it cools, it will continue to thicken.  Once it has cooled enough, add this back into the teff batter and whisk until it is all incorporated back into the batter.




Cover once again with plastic wrap and let it set for 30 minutes.  Once 30 minutes are up, you're ready to begin making injera.  I needed to add about another 1/2 cup of water to thin the batter out a bit.  The batter should be slightly thicker than a crepe batter, but not as thick as a pancake batter.  We used our crepe pan to make the injera.  You'll need to heat up your crepe pan, then ladle some batter on it while you're swirling the batter around in the pan.



Now cook on one side only until the top is completely dry.



Continue cooking in the same manner until all of the batter is used up.  We got 12 injera from this recipe.  Allow to cool completely to room temperature before stacking the injera.  We thought this next picture was quite interesting since you can see the steam rising from it as it cools.


In order to facilitate cooling of the injera, we covered the counter top with parchment paper and laid the injera on top of it.


Once it's cool, you can stack your injera and store it in a freezer bag.


O.K., now I have to say that even though I'm blogging about this now, we haven't really eaten them.  We started making them too late, and by the time we realized it, we only had time to make them, but not eat them.  Sam had a prior football watching engagement that would require him to eat, so he wanted to be hungry for that.  We decided to just put these away and reheat everything for dinner.  We did taste one of the injera, and at first we weren't sure we liked them.  It was an unusual flavor.  As we continued to eat it though, we began to really like it.  It has a sour flavor, as you would expect from sourdough bread, yet it's spongy like a pancake.  

I also tasted the tsebhi bersen as I was cooking it to adjust the salt for taste, and I will say that it was yummy.  I'm looking forward to combining the two dishes and eating them for dinner shortly.  

One final note, these are definitely worth taking the time and spending the money on the teff flour to make them.  I am going to freeze some of them, and hopefully they'll taste good when I pull them out of the freezer at a later point in time.  Out of all of the pancakes we've eaten so far, this is definitely one of my favorites!
 
Update: We have now eaten our injera and stew. It was just as yummy as I expected it to be. Sam, however, was not a fan. I think he couldn't get used to the sour flavor.