Sunday, March 2, 2014

Naleśniki (Polish Pancakes)

Naleśniki are thin, crêpe-like Polish pancakes and the first of my mother's recipes that I learned to make. Served for breakfast, dessert, or even supper on meatless Fridays, these were a staple growing up. The choices of fillings are endless, but the one I had most often and the one my family enjoys is just a light sprinkling of sugar that melts into the warm, rolled pancake. Simple and delicious!
The batter in this recipe is made without added fat so the pancakes are a little less tender than some crêpes but also much less fragile and easier to handle. You don't need a special crêpe pan, but a good non-stick is recommended. I've scaled down the recipe to a more manageable size, but it can easily be halved (or doubled and tripled).

makes 8, 20cm/8" naleśniki, plus one for the dog

360ml/1 1/2 cups milk 
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla*
2 tsp sugar*
1/8 tsp table salt
130g/1 cup all-purpose flour

oil or melted butter for the pan
sugar to taste for the filling

* omit the vanilla and sugar for savoury pancakes

blender, or medium bowl and a whisk
25cm/10" non-stick skillet**
non-metal spatula

** any size of pan can be used, just adjust the batter quantity for each pancake accordingly

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Whiz for 15 seconds on high. Scrape down any flour clinging to the sides and whiz again on high for 15 seconds or until completely blended. The batter should be lump-free and the consistency of heavy cream. Refrigerate covered for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

If making by hand, place all ingredients except flour in a bowl. Whisk until combined. Slowly pour in the flour, whisking the entire time; using this method avoids flour lumps. The batter should be lump-free and the consistency of heavy cream. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.
edges are curling - time to turn it over
Preheat a non-stick pan on medium heat. Brush with a little oil or melted butter. Lift the pan from the heat; pour in a scant 80ml/1/3cup batter, tilting the pan and swirling the batter to coat the bottom of the pan. Cook for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes or until the top of the pancake looks dry and the edges are golden and starting to curl up. Slip the spatula under the crepe, lift and flip over. Cook an additional 20-30 seconds or until golden spots appear on the bottom. Don't worry if the first one isn't perfect - that one's for the dog ;)! 

Transfer the pancake to an oven-proof dish, cover loosely with foil and keep warm in a 150C/300F oven; repeat with the remaining oil/butter and batter, stacking the pancakes as you go. Sprinkle with sugar - or anything else you like, roll and serve immediately. These can also be made in advance and kept well-wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 2 days to be re-heated in the microwave or in a preheated 175C/350F oven.

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