Crepes with Bananas and Orange Syrup (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)

Hi Everyone,

I’m rubbing my hands with glee – it’s Pancake day on Tuesday!

There are decisions to be made – what type of pancake to make? Depending on the type, should they be dusted with cinnamon-sugar or drizzled with homemade syrup? The syrup – traditional as in homemade? Maple syrup, honey? Or some other homemade flavoured syrup like lemon, orange, ginger, cardamom? There’s a lot to think about but I believe that the time I have available on Tuesday to make pancakes will be the ultimate deciding factor. Here’s why.

I have to teach two 3-hour classes on Tuesday with a 3-hour break in between so that is the window in which I have to make pancakes and eat them hot and fresh. So what’s it going to be? Over the years, I’ve made different types of pancakes, all of which I have shared with you.

There’s the Dutch Baby Pancake which is sometimes called a German pancake – it is like a pancake, crepe and popover all in one skillet. The batter is blended smooth and poured into a hot pan and cooked in the oven, it puffs up, like a popover and then quickly deflates once it is out of the oven, the middle gets filled with whatever you want – fruits, syrup, powdered sugar, butter, cheese, scrambled eggs. As I said, whatever you desire.

There are crepes. Ouuu, love crepes, thin, soft, easy to fold, fill, and drizzle with all kinds of things sweet, savoury or a combination of both. There are the Eastern European pancakes made with apples grated in the batter. Eggs for this style of pancakes are separated – yolks blended with the flour, milk, apples etc.; the whites are beaten stiff and folded into the batter to create an ethereally light pancake. Not to be outdone is the traditional American pancake made tender and delicious with buttermilk. The subtle tang from the buttermilk riffs eloquently with syrup; it’s probably why we end up eating more pancakes than we should.

It is quite a treat when we take the traditional American pancake and add other things directly into the batter, like pureed pumpkin, fresh fruit, chocolate chips; or sandwich them with things like Nutella or jam. Not to be outdone is a good old-fashioned Guyanese chotah, or what some call, sweet roti. Of all the pancakes there are though, my absolute favourite is the Portuguese-influenced pancakes. The original known as Malasadas. Tender balls of fried dough dragged through syrup for eating pleasure.

I enjoy making this Guyanese version of Portuguese pancakes as much as I like devouring them. With the oil in the karahi hot, I grab a fistful of soft elastic-like batter and squeeze it between my thumb and index finger, creating my own piping device that form balls. The oil sizzles and bubbles as the batter makes contact and the pancakes begin to swell. I work quickly tilting my hand backwards and forward piping out the batter. I grab a few more fistful to complete a frying batch. The pancakes seem to know instinctively when to turn as some of them flip over themselves. Gently inserting a slotted spoon or spider ladle, I lift as many of the pancakes that can hold on the spoon or ladle, heave it up and down to drain off the excess oil and transport them to drain them on paper towels. Some get tossed in castor sugar mixed with freshly ground cinnamon but the majority stay naked until I am ready to drizzle them with syrup. Sometimes I like to tear the pancakes, still leaving them intact and wipe them with syrup that has pooled at the bottom of the bowl. So good!

Getting back to me and the time constraints this coming Pancake Tuesday – I really wanted to make the original style Malasadas but I won’t be able to because that version requires 2 sets of rising, each taking 90 minutes (and that is not counting the prep time). Instead, I am going to go the with version we have adapted in Guyana which only needs a single rise. That will give me enough time; I might be cutting it close because I need to factor in cook time and eating time! Not to worry, I am not going to eat it all, I’ll share. I believe that pancakes – all types are meant to be shared, so whether you choose to bake, swirl, flip or fry pancakes this year, enjoy!

Here’s my mom’s recipe. Serve preferably with homemade syrup.

INGREDIENTS

Yield: 24

● 2 cups all-purpose flour

● 1 heaped teaspoon instant yeast

● 1 heaped teaspoon white granulated sugar

● ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

● A pinch of fine table salt

● 3 large eggs, room temperature

● 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

● ¾ cup warm whole milk (110  115 degrees F)

● Oil for deep frying

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix together flour, yeast, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl and set aside.

2. Lightly beat eggs and essence together.

3. Make a well in the centre of the flour; pour in eggs and milk and mix to form a smooth batter.

4. Cover and set aside in a warm, draft free place to rise for 1½ hours or until more than doubled in volume.

5. Heat oil in a deep frying pan until hot – the surface should be shimmering.

6. Drop tablespoons of batter into the hot oil; do not overcrowd the pan. Let the pancakes cook and brown on one side then flip them over to cook. The entire process should take 1 to 1½ minutes).

7. Drain on paper towels.

8. Repeat until all the batter is done.

9. Serve with syrup or toss in caster sugar while still hot.

NOTE

● The recipe can be doubled to make more.

Cynthia

cynthia@tasteslikehome.org

www.tasteslikehome.org