Pannekoek or the South African version of the crêpe are traditionally served with cinnamon sugar, sometimes with a hint of lemon juice. Because these pancakes do not have sugar in the batter, they make a great base for savoury fillings.
“This is pancake weather”
Summer is easing into Autumn here in New Zealand, which means the mornings are fresh and the breeze is biting a bit more than usual.
But the cooler weather means we will be having a lot of "this is pancake weather" days ahead of us.
What is pancake weather? Simply put this is a phrase that every South African will announce (at some point in their life) when the skies are gloomy, perhaps it's raining, perhaps it's a bit cold. Basically, it's the weather that creates the mood for comfort food.
What are Pannekoek or South African Pancakes?
These pancakes are basically the South African version of the crêpe. Perhaps slightly thicker than a crêpe, and a bit smaller in diameter. This variation of pancake can also be found in England, Ireland, the Netherlands and surrounding areas.
The South African version of these pancakes is derived from the Dutch pannenkoeken.
Most pancake or pannekoek recipes typically consist of milk, eggs, oil or melted butter, flour and salt. If sugar is added to the batter, would be in very small quantities. I prefer a simple sugar-free pancake that can hold both sweet and savoury fillings.
How popular are pannekoek in South Africa?
Pancakes or pannekoek are sold in pretty much every sort of food market, cafe, coffee shop, outside retail shops on the weekend next to the boerewors stand, at school or church fetes and festivals, farmer’s markets, and even in the local supermarkets.
Pannekoek is quintessential comfort food.
Many South Africans will also eat Pancakes on Pancake Tuesday also known as Shrove Tuesday and Fat Tuesday as they prepare themselves for the upcoming Lent.
How to eat pannekoek/pancakes?
Pannekoek/pancakes are usually served with a healthy (I use this term ironically) sprinkling of cinnamon sugar, sometimes with a bit of lemon juice. Traditionally the cinnamon-sugar mixture is spread over the entire pancake and rolled up for serving. They can be eaten with cutlery or by hand.
This pancake is a versatile beast. Your imagination is your only limit when it comes to pancake fillings. Popular fillings include caramel treats (dulce de leche), chocolate hazelnut spread, and even jams.
What about savoury fillings?
South Africans love a good savoury pancake. It’s not uncommon to walk into a cafe in South Africa and see savoury mince, bacon and egg, or even a creamy chicken and mushroom filling pancakes on the menu.
For a quick and creamy mushroom filling - slice and saute button mushrooms on medium-high heat in a tablespoon of olive oil, until the mushrooms are nicely browned. Season with salt and pepper. Toss the mushrooms with a tablespoon or two of flour, with 2 tablespoons of butter. Slowly whisk in about 2 cups of milk to form a nice thick creamy mushroom sauce!
Flour - plain, all-purpose, standard grade or cake flour (South Africa)
Salt is a crucial ingredient in all baked goods. I use table salt in all my recipes. One teaspoon of table salt equals 1.5 teaspoons of Morton Kosher Salt equals 2 teaspoons of Diamond Crystal.
Milk - I prefer using full-fat or whole milk, however, lower-fat versions can work in a pinch.
Eggs - bind everything together when cooking.
Brown and/or caster sugar(white granulated sugar) - for the cinnamon sugar filling.
Ground cinnamon to flavour the sugar. A little hint of nutmeg would also go down a treat.
Step 1 - Beat together the eggs, 600 ml of milk and oil until well combined.
Step 2 - Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl. Slowly add the milk mixture to the flour, whisking to prevent any clumps from forming. OR - place all the ingredients into a blender and blitz together until a thin smooth batter has formed. Allow the pancake mixture to rest for 30 minutes.
Stir through the batter, if it has thickened up, add some more milk until the batter is back to its pouring consistency.
Step 3 - Heat a non-stick 30cm frying pan over low to medium heat. Using a ⅓ cup measurer, pour the batter into the centre of the pan, spreading it to the edges. This can be done by picking up the pan and swirling the batter, or by using a plastic or silicon bench scraper lightly over the surface of the pancake.
Cook on one side until the batter has just become solid, then flip over for another 30 seconds to a minute.
Serve the pancakes with a cinnamon-sugar mixture or your favourite filling.
NOTE - Cooking pancakes require a little bit of patience. I like to cook mine over low-medium heat using a non-stick pan. To make sure the batter is evenly spread across the pan, use a plastic or silicone bench scraper to move the batter across the bottom of the pan. When the edges begin to brown, it’s time to flip. Be confident, be swift, be gentle. And if it flops or breaks…it doesn’t really matter. It’s still going to taste just as good.
Pro Tips for this Recipe
Weighing & Measuring Ingredients
Weighing ingredients with a kitchen scale is more accurate than using measuring cups. All my recipes are developed and tested using grams only.
However, I have activated the metric-to-cup conversions. Simply click on "cups" or "metric" for your preferred measurements. For these conversions, cups are equal to 240 millilitres/8 fluid ounces, tablespoons are 15 milliliters and teaspoons are 5mL.
A good non-stick pan is crucial to making pancakes. Allow the pan to heat up properly before adding the first batch of batter.
A blender or immersion blender works really well to create a smooth batter!
Storage and Freezing
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Pannekoek - South African Pancakes
- 240 grams plain flour (all-purpose/standard grade)
- 600-700 ml milk
- 2 eggs (large)
- 30 ml vegetable oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup light brown sugar (or white sugar)
- 2-3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Fresh lemon juice
- Beat together the eggs, 600 ml of milk and oil until well combined.600-700 ml milk, 2 eggs, 30 ml vegetable oil
- Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl. Slowly add the milk mixture to the flour, whisking to prevent any clumps from forming. OR - place all the ingredients into a blender and blitz together until a thin smooth batter has formed. Allow the pancake mixture to rest for 30 minutes.240 grams plain flour, ½ teaspoon salt
- Stir through the batter, if it has thickened up, add some more milk until the batter is back to its pouring consistency.
- Heat a non-stick 30cm frying pan over low to medium heat. Using a ⅓ cup measurer, pour the batter into the centre of the pan, spreading it to the edges. This can be done by picking up the pan and swirling the batter, or by using a plastic or silicon bench scraper lightly over the surface of the pancake.
- Cook on one side until the batter has just become solid, then flip over for another 30 seconds to a minute.
- Serve the pancakes with a cinnamon-sugar mixture or your favourite filling.½ cup light brown sugar, 2-3 teaspoon ground cinnamon, Fresh lemon juice
Nutrition information is an estimate. If scaling the recipe remember to scale your cook and bakeware accordingly. As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs,I earn from qualifying purchases.