The best thing about traveling is the food I bring back with me (not in the literal sense because…customs). That is, after all, how this blog started almost five (!!) years ago! While the overall food of Holland didn’t strike me as all that unique (though, with all the bread and dairy, it sure was delicious), there were a few dishes that stood out, and this week, I’m sharing them with you.
First up, a Dutch pancake, or pannenkoeken.
This is different from a Dutch baby pancake, which actually hails, if you recall, from Germany. This one is really a true cross between a crepe and a traditional, fluffy American-style pancake. The ingredients and method therefore, are also a combination of both.
I remember when we were sitting in De Witte Swaen remarking on how the batter really was so close to Mom’s crepes– it had the same lightness and thinness to it, without being overly buttery, but somehow still custardy. I know all of that seems to contradict itself. But, it meant that after looking over what seemed like dozens of recipes to replicate the Swan’s stack, I ended up looking no further than what I’ve spent my whole life eating.
The main difference, however, is the self-rising flower. Our traditional palacinta uses regular all-purpose, but the use of a leavening agent gives it more of that pancake personality.
Getting into it, let’s talk method for a sec. A lot of the recipes I found out there suggested pouring the batter into the pan and then adding the fillings to that or, alternatively, putting the fillings in the bottom of the pan and pouring the batter over. With both methods I found that:
1) the fillings were either not properly integrated; or
2) the pancake ended up being too thick.
My solution was to pour the batter in the pan with the same swirl motion you’d make when making a crepe, add the filling and then drizzling a very thin layer of extra batter atop the fillings. Therefore, once flipped, you have a thin layer of batter on both sides of the pancake without making it too thick or falling apart. I’m not even going to say this was extra work, just perhaps, a different approach, and the one that got me closest to the pancake hailed as the country’s best.
I know. How particular of me.
Now that that’s done, let’s talk fillings. I loved the bacon apple so much that I chose to repeat that as well. You know, sweet + savory. That meant pre-cooking both to ensure they are properly cooked through. You can do this ahead of time, even overnight if you like. Take the time to peel the apples (I know, I hate peeling apples and almost never do but here…it’s necessary) and slice them really thinly.
If you choose not to fill them, then just add a little more batter in the swirl to give them a little more body.
Serve with a bit of powdered sugar and a side of hot chocolate for that authentic Dutch feel.
Or extra berries. Because, ’tis the season, and who can really help themselves?
- 1 cup self-rising flour
- 1 egg
- 1 ¼ cup 2% or whole milk (or more for consistency)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 medium Gala apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 tsp unsalted butter
- 3 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into ½ “ strips.
- In a liquid measure or a medium bowl, add the flour, salt and sugar. Mix well with a fork. In a separate cup, add the milk and egg and beat well. Add the wet to the dry, stir to incorporate it all, and set aside for 30 minutes.
- In a small, nonstick saute pan (the same one that you’ll use for the pancakes), melt the butter and add the apples. Cook until the apples are soft and slightly brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
- In the same pan, add the strips of bacon, and cook until crispy. Drain the fat and set aside to drain on a paper towel.
- Preheat the oven to 200F.
- Once the fillings are made and the batter has set, make the pancakes.
- Coat the pan with melted butter, a bit of oil or cooking spray over medium heat (this is important- we’re cooking lower and slower so they don’t burn). Pour 1/4 cup of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Add the fillings in a thin layer, and drizzle about another 3 TB of batter over the fillings. Once the top starts to set a little and the bottom layer is brown, carefully give it a flip. Cook another 2 minutes on the second side to let the batter set.
- Place in a single layer in a baking rack, and let stay warm in the oven until all the pancakes are made.
Written after making ginger ice cream (coming soon!) and then eating too much of it.