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 ingredients is more accurate than measuring cups overall, and this is my recommendation for my recipes as they are all developed and tested using grams only.
However, I have activated the grams-to-cup conversions on the recipe card. Simply click on "cups" underneath the ingredient list. For these conversions, cups are equal to 236mL/8 fluid ounces, tablespoons are 15mL and teaspoons are 5mL.
Measuring cups and spoons are an essential addition to every kitchen! Especially if you don't use a kitchen scale. Invest in a set to ensure you add the correct ingredients for accurate measuring. When in doubt - always use a level spoon or cup measure.
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 flour
- 600-700 ml milk
- 2 large eggs
- 30 ml vegetable oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup brown or caster 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 large 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 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 brown or caster sugar,2-3 teaspoon ground cinnamon,Fresh lemon juice
Nutrition information is an estimate, accuracy of nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. If scaling the recipe remember to scale your cook and bakeware accordingly.
Peter Anderson says
I haven't made this but the quantities look wrong. Metric amount of milk says 600 to 700ml but the US customary version says 5.5 cups of milk. Using the given conversion rate of 1 cup equals 236ml and multiplying, the 5.5 US cups converts to 1360 ml of milk. That is twice the metric quantity. I haven't looked up the conversion rates between US cups of flour and the metric equivalent but my sometimes unreliable memory says that 462 millimetres of flour doesn't equate to
240 grams of flour. Recipe does not say how tightly the flour is packed into the cups. Weight measure is always more accurate than the volume measure.
It seems the plugin glitched for the milk quantities (probably didn't like my mention of 600-700ml) and I have updated it. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.
The flour conversion is 100% correct. A cup (about 236ml) of flour weighs 120 grams-125 grams (depending on who you ask). The gold standard for measuring out flour into cups is to fluff up the flour, place the flour into the cup using some sort of spoon until the flour overflows and then use a knife to level off the cup.
In terms of weight measurements, yes they are always more accurate - hence me putting in the weight measurement for flour. However, the US customary button is activated as a courtesy to those who haven't yet invested in a scale.
Hi Mary-Lou, thank you for your lovely recipes, especially the South African ones - I live in Knysna and was born in Port Elizabeth before moving to mining town and then finally Knysna. The Western Cape is tops!! Anyway I am very interested in your tips/comments about the different types of salt and wonder whether you have ever baked with Himalayan salt, which is all we use at home. I know it has a different flavour/intensity to other salt and would like to know how much to use compared to table salt?
We have a bit of a similar pathway around South Africa...the Western Cape is tops, 100% agree!
As for Himalayan salt as a substitute, I found a handy conversion chart from Morton Salt, which I have linked here in the comment.
But basically, my notes on salt and the conversion are related to the texture of the salt. And for table salt, a substitute would be fine Himalayan salt, but if your salt is coarse then go with the Kosher salt value.