Our next destination was Algeria. I was excited about Algeria since it's a country in north Africa. I thought we would be using some sort of exotic grain to make our pancakes this week. Algeria did not disappoint, not only did the recipe call for semolina, but it called for yeast as well. I've used semolina in the past, but I've mostly used it when making Italian breads and pizza dough. I love the taste of semolina, and the texture it gives to breads is fantastic! I wasn't too sure how it would go in a pancake batter though. When I first read the recipes I found for Algerian pancakes, called baghrir, I was unsure why yeast was needed; and I was tempted to just leave it out. I mean pancakes don't need rise time, and they're very liquidy. Yeast just seemed unnecessary, and I wasn't looking forward to a yeasty tasting pancake. However, as I read about Algerian breakfast cuisine I began to understand the importance of the yeast in their baghrir. In Algeria, the more holes there are in the baghrir, the better they are. Thus, the yeast was needed to help create the holes while cooking. Alas, I opted to keep the yeast in.
So this recipe was a little bit of a challenge in that all of the recipes I found online were in metric units, and not the usual cups, tablespoons, etc. that we are used to using here in the U.S.A. So I had to convert the ingredient amounts. Ultimately, this is what I came up with for the ingredient amounts:
- 2 cups fine semolina
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 cup milk, warm but comfortable to the touch
- 2 cups water, warm but comfortable to the touch
Place all ingredients in a blender and mix until you have a smooth batter. Alternatively, you could mix by hand, but there are a lot of dry ingredients in this recipe, so if you have a blender, it would be easier to mix until smooth.
After mixing, let the batter rest for 30 minutes. This will allow the yeast to multiply so that when you cook the baghrir, you'll get lots of holes. While the batter is resting, you can make the honey butter syrup. You'll need 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter and 1/2 cup of honey to make it. Place honey and butter in a pot on the stove. Heat and stir the honey and butter together over medium heat until the butter is melted and you have a homogenous mixture of honey and butter.
After the batter has rested for 30 minutes, heat a skillet on medium heat. When the skillet is hot, ladle batter onto the skillet. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the batter is porous and dry. You do not need to flip the baghrir, as it should only be cooked on one side.
As you can see from the image, our first try wasn't very successful. We didn't get very many holes int he pancake. The entire surface of the pancake should have been covered with holes. So, we were hoping to have more holes on the next try.
So, we got a few more holes this time, but still not enough. I elected to switch from using my skillet (which has a thick bottom and is heavy) to the crepe pan (which is thin and light weight). I wanted to see what would happen if I swirled the batter as I added it to make it slightly thinner.
Now that's what I call holes! I recommend using a crepe pan for these. We got hundreds of holes with this pan.
When ready to eat them, make sure the honey butter syrup is still warm. If it's not, rewarm it briefly, then drizzle over the bagrhir.
Here are a couple of more photos to finish off the meal:
The baghrir were easy to make, but ultimately, we weren't overly impressed with taste of them. You definitely need some sort of syrup to eat with them, as they are quite bland and tasteless on their own. The honey butter syrup was really tasty though, and usually I am not fond of honey. So, my recommendation is if you happen to have semolina and yeast in the house, give these a try; but don't make a special trip to get any ingredients. One last thing, this recipe makes 8-10 baghrir.