Pancakes; you can get different kinds of pancake mix at the supermarket, with which you can easily bake a large portion of pancakes. You would almost think that you need a special mix to make pancakes. But making pancakes without a pack with mix is ??very easy. Moreover, you probably have the ingredients at home right now: flour, eggs, milk. Then you will come a long way. And the pancake seems so typically Dutch, but every country has its own variation.
What is the history of the pancake?
The pancake is centuries old. It was already written in Brederode’s play ‘Moortje’: ‘Give me a pancake from the pan, Ho, man, ho!’ However, the pancake is not a Dutch invention, by no means. The pancake is older than the Netherlands itself. Due to the simple composition of a cereal flour, eggs as binder and milk, you come across the pancake in many forms, in practically all countries of the world. What do you think of the Russian ‘blinis’, German ‘Pfannkuchen’ and American ‘pancakes’, which are made with buttermilk and a leavening agent which makes it light and thicker. The Japanese call their pancake the ‘okonomiyaki’ and there are many examples. French crepes are also known in the Netherlands and these are made from buckwheat flour. This ingredient can also be found in the oldest pancake recipes, which date back to the Middle Ages. Yet pancakes have been made for much longer. Archaeological finds indicate that pancake variations were baked deep in prehistoric times. The Romans called them ‘alita docia’, which means ‘something sweet’. These were topped with fruit or honey.
Pancake varieties are eaten at different times. American pancakes are a breakfast product. Dutch people eat pancakes mainly as a supper and a ‘pancake boat’ is typically Dutch. The French crepe is a snack that you get on the street at a ‘creperie’ and eat it out of your hand.
In 1956 there was a nice story about the pancake in a bakery magazine. When a marriageable daughter carried the first baked pancake around the house three times on Christmas Eve, she would see her future husband. You can find the same story in Patznaun in Austria, but there the girl had to carry the pancake three times around the house and then throw it on the roof. As a woman, you could also let us know that you were interested in the advances of your lover: when you gave him a pancake with sugar and butter on a Sunday evening visit, that meant that you liked the man.
The basic recipe for pancakes
Pancakes are made with these ingredients (for around 18 pancakes):
600 grams of flour
1.5 liters of whole or semi-skimmed milk
30 cc of tap water
pinch of salt
two bags of vanilla sugar (optional)
two tablespoons of melted butter
You also need:
whisk or electric mixer
large mixing bowl
non-stick frying pan
butter to grease the pan with
a ladle or jug ??/ measuring cup
Put the eggs and vanilla sugar in a bowl and mix them together until light. Add the milk and water and mix it all together. Add the salt and flour and mix until smooth. Finally, add the tablespoons of melted butter. Make sure the butter is not piping hot; the eggs in the batter must not solidify. You can do this with a hand mixer, but with a whisk it also works fine. Put the batter in a jug or measuring cup. This way you can easily pour it into the pan. If you do not have this, you can also use a ladle.
Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Put a knob of butter in the pan. Bake the pancake on both sides until golden brown.
Tips and tricks
For the advanced pancake baker, pancakes are something that you can easily put together. It is a lot easier with these tips and tricks:
This way you prevent the first pancake from failing
A well-known cliché is that the first pancake ‘failed’. The pancake is not nicely browned, weak or broken. You can prevent this by ensuring that the pan is hot. That is the difference between the first and the subsequent pancakes: the pan is well heated. Add the butter only when the pan is quite hot, and it may sizzle.
How do you know that a pancake needs to be turned?
A pancake can be turned if the underside is nicely browned, but that side of course lies against the bottom of the pan. There are two ways to know that your pancake is good to turn around:
The surface of the top is ‘dry’. So no more liquid batter, not even in the middle.
The edge is crispy and browned. You can also lift the side and look with a tip of your spatula.
When do you add filling?
Want to make a bacon pancake or apple pancake? Make sure that your apple slices are thin, otherwise the batter will not ‘hold’ and the slices will fall out of your pancake when you turn it over. Use a mandolin if you have it at home. For bacon, for example, you can use slices of smoked bacon. These are salted and this contrast between salt and the sweetness of, for example, syrup is very popular.
Put the filling after the butter in the pan and then pour the batter over it. This way you ensure that the filling fits nicely in the batter and also cooks well.
You can save pancake batter
you can store batter in the fridge for a few days. It will settle within half a day, but this does not mean that the batter is no longer good. Just mixing is enough to use it again. Keep in mind that it contains fresh milk and eggs: smell it before you use it again. It is easy to store the batter in a can or to put it in a bottle with a funnel. That way it doesn’t take up too much space. Shake and you pour it into the pan.
A pancake recipe can make you think that there are very strict proportions to get the batter just right. That is not true. With more flour you get a thicker, heavier pancake. This can be useful if you put apple slices in it. A thinner, light pancake is the result if you dilute it with milk. For a crispy, paper-thin edge, dilute with some water.
Vary with pancakes
Anyone who has ever been to a pancake restaurant knows that you can hardly imagine it or it is on the menu. The most famous pancakes are sweet, but there are also savory ones. Below you will find a number of known combinations:
Pancake with bacon
Pancake with pineapple
Pancake with apple slices
Pancake with ginger from syrup
Pancake with powdered sugar and cinnamon
Pancake with cherries from a pot and whipped cream or ice cream
Pancake with cheese
Pancake with raisins
Pancake sayings and proverbs
The fact that the pancake is an important part of Dutch culture is also evident from the many proverbs and sayings that mention the pancake.
‘The pancake is sliding’ (everything is going well)
“You don’t have to spoil a pancake with an egg” (you shouldn’t lose sight of the big picture due to a little thing)
‘If it is raining pancakes, then my dishes are reversed’ (a Groningen saying, that means that it is always disappointing: when the pancakes fall out of the sky, you just don’t hold your plate to catch one)
“In love, shit is just as good as a pancake” (love makes blind)
“A pancake without bacon” (a couple without children)
“The pancake won’t be big” (the loot / legacy won’t be too big)
‘Eating the edges of the pancake’ (striving for the best for yourself)
“They know each other with a warm pancake walk” (a Zaans saying that people live so close together that they can easily gossip with each other)
“Pancake” is also a (mild) swear word, and means dumb, bumble.