Let’s talk about one of my favorite foods. My grandmother’s recipe is below.
Pannekoeken is that quintessential dutch dish that everyone just loves and it holds a special place in my heart. A unique pancake that seamlessly transcends savory and sweet genres, becoming, what I would call “the best pancake in the world”. If we are talking traditional pannekoeken, dutch style, we are looking at a massive pancake, probably 10″ around. It’s thicker than a crepe but lighter than the American style, being both crispy on the outside but light and fluffy in the middle.
If you are going the sweet route, apples or raisins and Gouda cheese are a must, covered in powdered sugar and finished with stroop, a weird cousin of molasses and corn syrup. If you are going the savory route, ham and Gouda is the classic, also topped with stroop creating that crave-able sweet savory concoction that is just good for the soul.
The pannekoeken tradition started in my family during the 80’s, when my mom and her family moved to the Netherlands. While living there, my grandparents picked up some awesome recipes from neighbors and friends and brought them stateside upon their return. These were the dishes of my childhood, continually making an appearance whenever I would sleepover at my grandmother’s house. I don’t think I can remember a better food memory than waking up, running to the kitchen and finding my grandfather up early, whipping up some fresh pannekoeken for me and my cousins. Smells of ham and cheese wafting through the air, the sizzle of the pan tantalizing my eardrums and the anticipation of what was to come filling me with food envy.
So how do you make pannekoeken? Solid question right.
You start with the batter, a simple mixture of flour, eggs, milk, baking soda, salt, sugar and in true European fashion it must be measured in metric. Next you find a pan, like seriously the biggest pan you have in you house, smile tire sized. Get that pan nice and hot and don’t be stingy with the butter. Once your pan is nice and toasty, add in the ham and give it a quick fry. Once your ham is crisped up, add the batter, just enough to coat the pan being sure to keep it not to thin or too thick. Once everything is settled, let that baby fry up for a few minutes.
Now the hard part comes. How am I supposed to flip this behemoth? An unnerving task with unnerving results, either so so tasty success, or crushing defeat, also equally as tasty however. This is something I have watched my grandpa do for years, and with each flip I am still amazed how he nails it 9 out of 10 times. Once you have it flipped, you are home free and one your way to the best damn brunch of your life, but don’t forget the cheese! You have to use Gouda, one, because it is the dutch tradition, but two, because it is the perfect flavor enhancer, a bit funky but smooth and creamy.
Once your leviathan pancake is out of the pan slide that bad-boy onto the biggest plate you can find. The dutch traditionally use blue and white Delft plates made especially for pannekoeken but since you probably don’t have that, I would just opt for the biggest one you have.
The pancake is ready, and the smell of delicious cheese and meat are wafting through your kitchen, but wait! Don’t dig in yet. A pannekoeken wouldn’t be ready without a large smothering of stroop, and there’s even varieties! Original stroop (pronounced strope) is sweet, sticky and delicious, with a sweetness that is simply richer and deeper than anything I have ever tried. The other alternative that is my personal favorite is apple stroop, which is the original stroop stewed down with apples, giving it a fruity but equally rich flavor.
I love pannekoeken. It’s nostalgic, delicious and easy to make. It is a dish I hope to share with my family when I get older and a family tradition I am proud to carry on, as long as I can flip the damn pancake!
- 125 grams ( 1 cup) All purpose Flour
- 2 1/2 Deciliters (a little less than 1 cup) Milk
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 Tablespoon Sugar, salt, pepper
- 1 Egg
- Thinly sliced Ham, thinly sliced Apples, etc.
- Enough to almost cover pan in single layer leaving spaces in between for the batter to flow.. Thin Slices of Gouda Cheese. Stroop (see below) or syrup to serve
- Blend the first 7 ingredients with a beater or in a blender.
- Let set a while (about 15 minutes). Batter should be of pouring consistency.
- Adjust milk if necessary.
- Melt some butter in a frying pan (a large one about 12 inches in diameter). If you are using ham, or apples brown lightly on both sides in pan.
- Then, pour half of the batter into the pan and cover the bottom of the pan completely.
- To be sure batter is evenly spread, tilt frying pan so that batter covers pan evenly. When done and light brown on one side and dry looking on top.
- Flip the pancake by gently using a long spatula or if you are adventurous and experienced flip it in the air! Cover the pancake with cheese slices, and brown on the other side.
- Cheese should melt. Put finished pancake on plate or platter and keep warm in a very low oven while you repeat the process for the second pancake.
- Serve with Stroop (traditional dutch thick syrup available plain or made with apple)
or syrup. There are 2 traditional ways to eat this huge baby— one involves spreading it with stroop and rolling it from end to end like a jelly roll and cutting into slices.
- The other, after spreading with stroop, cutting into pie shaped wedges and rolling each section individually.
- Makes 2 servings. Eet Smakelijk