How to Make Russian Pancakes (two recipes)

 

When I was a kid there was no holiday I liked more than Maslenitsa, the Pancake Festival.  It’s the oldest surviving Russian holiday dating back to 2nd century AD.  It started as a Pagan celebration of Spring and Sun and was later adapted into Christianity because folks just absolutely refused to give up the merry-making.  It’s the brightest and merriest holiday I know.  Ice hills, street dancing (хороводы), sleigh rides, burning of Lady Maslenitsa, fist fighting, snow town battle, and of course, unlimited pancakes because pancakes are the symbol of Maslenitsa.  They are golden, round and hot just like the Sun.

 
How to make Russian Pancakes.  Yummy treat for the whole family.  Two recipes.  Loads of fun!

 At Maslenitsa pancakes are cooked in very large quantities and consumed without a shame.  They are served with lots of melted butter because the name Maslenitsa comes from “maslo,” which means “butter.”  Pancakes can also be eaten with caviar, salmon, mushrooms, cucumbers, jam, and sour cream.  We do not follow the church calendar because according to it Maslenitsa is at a different time each year.  For us the last Sunday in February (or the last Sunday of the winter) is my family’s Russian Pancake Festival.  We make pancakes altogether in the kitchen and eat them all day.  It’s been tradition in my family since we got married and we enjoy it now even more with three additional little pancake enthusiasts at the table.
 
Russian Pancakes

 

How to Make Russian Pancakes

When it comes to making pancakes there are two warring camps: those that think that liquids should be added to flour and those that think that flour should be added to liquids.   Both sides are pretty convinced that they are right.  Believe me the debates get pretty heated.  I personally broke off five fights just since Thursday.  If you never made pancakes you might wonder what’s the big deal.  The lumps!  There is nothing that will destroy your pancakes than a bunch of lumps and both sides are convinced that their method produces the least amount of lumps.  I’m offering your both methods to try, so you can judge for yourself.

 
 

Two recipes below are the traditional old Russian versions and they each have their advantages and disadvantages.  The first one incorporates oil in the recipe, so you wouldn’t worry about your pancakes sticking to the pan (but you still need to oil the pan every few pancakes).  The second recipe has fewer calories, but it’s more labor intensive as you have to keep oiling the pan before each pancake.  Recipe #2 makes for better looking pancakes, recipe #1 makes pancakes that have more holes (and it’s a good thing, it makes it lighter and tastier).  Both recipes are sugar free.  You can make a meal out of it and eat your pancakes with salmon and cucumber, or call it a dessert and eat it with jam and berries.

 

 

Russian Pancakes #1
(liquids are added to dry ingredients)
Ingredients
1 egg (room temperature is preferable)
1 1/4 milk + 3 Tablespoons (warm)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
oil for pan

  1. Make a mound of flour in a bowl, then make a hole in the middle.  Crack egg and let it fall into this hole.  How to make Russian Pancakes
     
  2. With a wooden spoon, gradually incorporate the flour from the sides into the egg.  
  3. Start adding warm milk (1 1/4 cup + 3 Tablespoons) slowly, incorporating the flour from the sides and beating with the wooden spoon to make a smooth batter. How to make Russian Pancakes
     
  4. Stop when the batter is lump free, smooth and light cream consistency.  It’s beneficial to let your batter stand a little, or even overnight is ok.  If the batter thickens from long standing, add some more milk (one tablespoon at a time). This is the consistency you are looking for How to make Russian Pancakes
     
  5. Heat the pancake pan.  The pan must be hot.  Set it on medium.   You want your pancakes to slowly bake, not to fry. I use my grandma’s secret method of pouring some salt into the pan and letting it heat.  Once the salt starts turning brown, I dump it out.  The pan is ready. Or if you don’t want to deal with salt, then you can sprinkle some water on the pan and if water sizzles than the pan is hot enough to start.   How to make Russian Pancakes.  The last Sunday in February my family celebrates a Pancake Day.   And these are our two favorite recipes.
     
  6. Pour some oil in the pan and wipe excess with paper towel or a couple of napkins balled together.
  7. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into the pan.  Flip it when the edges start to brown or when bubbles come to the surface. Russian Pancakes
  8.  

    The trick to flipping the pancake is in the wrist movement, but if you are not there yet just use a dull knife or a narrow spatula to turn it over. Russian Pancakes

     
  9. Re-oil with oiled paper towel before every pancake.
  10. Keep the pancakes under a kitchen towel or they will get dry. 

Russian Pancakes #2 

(dry ingredients added to liquids)
Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons olive oil + more oil for pan

  1. It’s better to use room temperature egg and milk for making pancakes because it makes it easier to avoid lumps in the batter.  But if you woke up early in the morning and want to start on pancakes right away pour milk in a cup and microwave it for 1 minute.  
  2. Crack open the egg, add salt and beat it with a fork.
  3. Add warm milk and olive oil and blend well.
  4. Add flour and mix it with a wooden spoon.  I like to move my hand up and down, using the back of the spoon to squash away any remaining lumps. Batter will be smooth and a bit thicker than milk.  
  5. Leave the batter to stand a little, while you are heating the pancake pan on medium.  Don’t start until pan is hot or you will end up throwing away your first pancake. 
  6. Oil the pan.  What I do is dump a fair amount of oil into the pan, then wipe it with a paper towel.  Hold on to this paper towel, you will use it between the pancakes to oil your pan.  Make sure you don’t wipe everything away, the pan should be nice and shiny, but there shouldn’t be any pools of oil.  You don’t want to fry the pancake.  And whatever you do, don’t use the nonstick pans.  Your pancakes would be pale and rubbery. 
  7. Use less batter than you imagine you need.  My perfect measurement cup is my Russian wooden spoon.  It holds a bit less than a quarter cup.  
  8. Flip the pancake when edges turn golden brown or when bubbles come to the surface.  With this recipe I don’t get many bubbles, just smooth golden surface.  

Russian Pancakes
NOTE: how to get perfectly round pancakes.  If there wasn’t enough debate about which ingredient is added first liquid or flour, the other bone of contention is how to pour batter in a pan.  One camp says to pour it slowly in the middle of the pan with one hand, while holding the pan by the handle with your other hand and tilting it in slow circular motion to let the batter spread.  The second camp says to pour the batter in the middle of the pan and with a wooden spoon spread the batter in circular motion to a desired size.  Try both to decide, which works better for you.
                                                                                                  
Have you ever made Russian pancakes? 

 

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