Pancake recipes worth flipping over

Need a pancake Tuesday recipe?

Pancake recipes tested by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Homemade dosais probably won't be as tender and paper-thin as those you can get at Southern Indian restaurants, but these rustic versions have lots of flavor and are surprisingly easy to prepare. The chlorine in tap water can inhibit fermentation, so it's a good idea to use filtered water. Traditionally, dosais are served simply with chutneys, or with more elaborate fillings such as potato masala, but they can also be filled with any kind of stew, curry or stir fry that you think will go well with their slightly sour, fermented flavor and soft, chewy texture.

-- China Millman

2 cups raw extra-long-grain rice (or basmati or jasmine rice)

1/4 cup split urad dal

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

6 cups filtered water

1/2 cup cooked plain rice

1 teaspoon salt

Place raw rice, urad dal and fenugreek seeds in enough warm, filtered water to cover generously. Soak at room temperature for about 6 hours. Drain water and place mixture in an electric blender. Add about 1-1/2 cups of filtered water to facilitate the grinding process.

Grind dal mixture on high power for several minutes. Add cooked rice a little at a time to the mixture, as it is being ground.

Pour mixture into a large bowl. Add the salt and mix well with your hand.

Cover bowl with a plate and place it in a warm place in the kitchen overnight. The rice batter will begin to ferment and should double in quantity. If you are concerned that your kitchen is not warm enough, heat your oven to 350 degrees, then turn it off. Wait 10 minutes, then place the bowl with batter, still covered, in the oven and leave overnight.

The next morning the batter should be frothy. Stir with a large spoon for a few minutes, then set aside.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place about 1/2 cup of batter into the center of skillet. Spread batter by moving a spoon in concentric circles, starting at the inside of the circle and working toward the outside, spreading batter thinly and evenly.

Cover and cook over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes. If added crispness is desired, when tiny bubbles appear on the dosai in the skillet, place about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon canola oil around the dosai. Otherwise, to make plain, soft dosais, don't add oil and cook only on one side.

Repeat with remaining batter.

Makes about 16 dosais.

-- From "Healthy South Indian Cooking" by Alamelu Vairavan and Patricia Marquardt (Hippocrene Books, 2008)

Click to the next page for Arab pancakes, orange blossom pancake recipes, and more.

ARAB PANCAKES WITH FRESH MANGOES AND ORANGE BLOSSOM CLOTTED CREAM

(Tested by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

This recipe requires planning. It can be hard to find ripe mangoes at the market, and the clotted cream needs to be made the night before you want to use it, then chilled for a few hours. But the spectacular flavor of the orange-blossom-perfumed pancakes and the wonderful texture of the mango against the fluffy pancakes makes the extra work more than worth it.

-- China Millman

3 eggs, divided

6 tablespoons sugar, divided

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Zest of 1 orange, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups milk

2 mangoes, cheeks sliced off, peeled and cut into thick slices

Whisk the egg yolks with 3 tablespoons of sugar. Mix in the flour, baking powder, salt, orange zest and vanilla, and then add the milk slowly, ensuring there are no lumps. Whip the egg whites with the remaining sugar until they form stiff peaks, and carefully fold them into the batter. Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat, and lightly coat with butter or olive oil. Pour batter into the pan by the scant 1/4 cup. Moderate the heat so that the pancakes reach the desired level of browning when small bubbles have started to form over the uncooked surface of the pancake. Flip pancakes once and continue cooking until the bottom reaches desired doneness and the pancake looks fluffy.

Makes about 12 pancakes.

ORANGE BLOSSOM CLOTTED CREAM

(Tested by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

1 cup cream

1/4 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons mild-flavored honey

Zest of one orange, finely grated

1 teaspoon orange blossom water

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and very slowly bring them to the boil. As soon as the cream boils, lower the heat and keep it at a low simmer for 5 minutes. Tip it into a glass bowl and leave it overnight, outside the fridge, wrapped in a clean kitchen towel. Then place in fridge and chill before using. Don't worry if the mixture doesn't seem terribly thick when you unwrap it, it will thicken up more in the fridge.

Makes about 1-1/2 cups cream.

-- Adapted from "Artichoke to Za'atar: Modern Middle Eastern Food" by Greg and Lucy Malouf (University of California Press, 2008)

CORN PANCAKES

(Tested by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Despite the high proportion of cornmeal, these pancakes are incredibly light and fluffy. -- China Millman

1-1/2 cups finely ground cornmeal

1/2 cup flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup Greek-style yogurt

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 to 1-1/2 cups water

1 cup fresh or frozen corn

Sift together cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in yogurt, eggs, butter and water. Add water in doses, until batter reaches desired thinness, but only stir as much as necessary. Gently stir in corn kernels.

Heat a nonstick frying pan or a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, add a little oil or some butter, just enough to lightly coat. Pour batter into the pan by about 1/3 of a cup, though you could also make smaller cakes if you choose. Moderate the heat so that the pancakes start to brown a little on the bottom, about when small bubbles start to form over the uncooked surface of the pancake. Flip the pancakes once and continue cooking until the bottom is also starting to brown a little, and the pancake looks fluffy.

Makes about 12 pancakes.

-- China Millman

TURKISH CHEESE PANCAKES

(Tested by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

While exploring pancakes from around the world, I couldn't help but notice how often dishes that were technically flatbreads would be translated as pancakes. I'm on the fence about whether a pancake needs to be made from a batter, but these were too delicious not to include, whatever you want to call them. I served these as Ana Sortun suggested, with a lightly dressed arugula salad. They were also delicious eaten cold the next day.

-- China Millman

For the dough:

1-1/2 cups (8 ounces) flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling out dough

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus a little extra for making pancakes

2/3 cup lukewarm water

For the filling:

1 small white onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup ricotta cheese

4 ounces or 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup grated kasseri cheese (provolone is a good substitute)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To make the dough, sift the flour with the salt into a medium mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the oil and the water. Using one hand, mix together the flour and liquid until it comes together in slightly sticky dough. If it is too dry, add a little more water. If it is too sticky, add a little more flour. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead well for about 3 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Divide the dough into eight equal pieces and roll them into balls. Place on a floured surface, cover them with a damp cloth and let them rest for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling by sauteing the onion in 1 tablespoon of butter. Let them cool, then combine with the cheeses and chopped herbs and season to taste.

Roll the balls of dough into flat rounds, using a lightly floured rolling pin, so that they are about 6 inches in diameter.

Heat a griddle or a large nonstick saute pan over medium heat and wipe it with a little oil. Slap one of the flat rounds onto it. Use your fingertips to shift the dough about, making sure it browns and puffs up here and there. Brush the upper side with more oil, and flip it over.

While the second side is cooking, spread 1/4 cup of cheese filling evenly over the cooked side. After about one minute, fold the pancake either in half, in quarters, or fold up the sides so it resembles a small tart. If you want to slice the pancakes into pieces, let them rest for a couple of minutes.

Makes 8 stuffed pancakes.

-- Adapted from "Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean" by Ana Sortun with Nicole Chaison (ReganBooks, 2006)

(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.)

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