My love for cooking while rocking out to the Dixie Chicks in my fabulous American apron continues unabated. Last time I promised you a post about Dutch pancakes. Today I make good on that promise.
First off, let me apologize for the quality of the pictures accompanying this post. I am not a photographer, especially not of food (which is surprisingly hard to take pretty photos of), but I did my best to take some shots you can use as visual aids. Now that I’ve made that disclaimer, and before we embark on actually whipping up some pancakes, I’d like to tell you a little about pancakes in The Netherlands.
The Netherlands, much like the U.S., has many pancake houses. But the name “pancake” is where the similarities end. Dutch pancakes are thin (not quite as thin as crÃªpes, but close) and huge. Massive. The pancake house in my university town makes ones that are nearly twice the size of the one in the linked picture. Additionally, pancakes in The Netherlands are not really breakfast food (though you may certainly eat them for breakfast if you’re so inclined), but more of a dinner thing. As a result, you can eat them in a large variety of ways: with syrup or Nutella or jam or powdered sugar, with apple (and raisins) and sugar, with bacon, with cheese, with banana and chocolate sauce, with salami, with mushrooms (and ham), with ice cream and fresh fruit, the list goes on and on (and on).
When I make pancakes at home (of a slightly more modest size), I have a few go-to staples: natural (to eat with sugar and syrup), apple, bacon, and cheese. The great thing is that the batter stays the same no matter what ““ you mix things up with toppings and stuffings, not ingredients mixed into the batter ““ and it’s ridiculously easy to make. In order to make 6-7 properly sized pancakes, you need:
– big skillet
– 1 1/3 cup of flour
– 1 1/3 cup of milk
– 2 eggs
– pinch of salt
– pinch of baking powder
In a bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder, then whisk in the milk. As with the drie-in-de-pan, I think this is best done by hand and not with a mixer because you get a feel for the batter. When these elements are combined, whisk in the eggs. At the end you should have a nice, smooth, runny batter. (You may want to add an extra splash of milk later, after you’ve made your first pancake, which should be floppy and soft, not stiff.)
Put your skillet on the stove and melt a little chunk of margarine in it. When your pan is hot, get about a ladle-full of batter and pour it into the skillet. Give the pan a little wiggle and swirl so that the batter covers the whole bottom of the pan. Turn your heat down slightly and wait until there’s no more runny batter. Use a spatula to check the color of the bottom of the pancake. It should be dark golden, moving towards brown. Once your pancake has that color, flip it, then cook until the other side has a similar color. Slide the pancake onto a plate and cover it with an inverted plate to keep warm. Congratulations, you have just made a pancake au naturel! You can top this pancake with anything your heart desires. If you can get your hands on Dutch syrup (Van Gilse or Wester, for instance), do so! It’s dark, sticky, some 12,000 times sweeter than maple sugar, and generally amazing.
Now here’s where it gets fun, because you can start making your own variations. First stop, apple! If you’re at a pancake house (or my mother’s) your apple pancake will contain very pretty, round, de-cored slices. However, since I lost my apple core stabber thingy, I just cut thin slices off the sides off the apple. Put some more margarine in the pan, then pop in your apples.
Pour batter into the pan, wiggle and swirl again so the apple is completely embedded in the pancake, and wait for the pancake to cook. Flipping these is always a little harder, but give it your best shot. As you can see in the picture, mine was still a little pale, so I got to flip it again (hurrah!).
Also make sure to give it a light dusting of cinnamon, for extra deliciousness. When both sides are nice and brown you can slide the pancake onto the plate again and cover it. Eat with a good dusting of powdered sugar.
Two varieties down, two to go. It’s time for some savory pancakes: bacon and cheese. These, too, are ridiculously easy to make. Grease your skillet as before, then pop in a few strips of bacon. Let sizzle for a bit (but not until completely crispy), then cover with batter.
Wait for the pancake to cook (this is why you don’t want to wait for your bacon to be crispy; it’ll end up burning while you wait for the right time to flip your pancake), then flip it. If, like me, you realize there isn’t quite enough bacon in your pancake, you can always add an extra strip as an afterthought. You do you. When the pancake is done you can have it join the others in their wait to be eaten.
And now for the piece de resistance: CHEESE. I LOVE CHEESE. I LOVE PANCAKES. I LOVE CHEESE PANCAKES. I love them so much, they make me write in all caps. I do apologize. For cheese pancakes, start off as you would with a natural pancake. After flipping it, put some sliced cheese on it (if you use anything other than Gouda or some really good quality domestic, please don’t tell me. Thank you.), sprinkle with paprika, and cover with a lid to achieve ultimate melty goodness.
If you want to pile on more pancakes after this one, you’ll want to fold the pancake in half, cheese on the inside, so it doesn’t end up sticking to everything else. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll use the last bit of batter and the last scraps of bacon and cheese to make a bacon cheese pancake. (And if you’re even more like me, you’ll make some extra ones to eat cold in the morning, for breakfast). Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.
But the ones with extra toppings and stuffings are often best eaten… any way that’s convenient, like with pizza.
And there you have it, Dutch pancakes. Eet smakelijk!
(Yes, I know, I know, I have forgone the Dixie Chicks references. Believe me when I say they were most definitely playing in the background. Next time, when my post isn’t quite as long, I’ll be sure to include some more poppy country. For now, just imagine me tearing up during “Wide Open Spaces,” because man, that song always slays me!)