Flipping Good Pancakes (Kyle Books, 2018) by Sudi Pigott takes inspiration from countries all over the world to create her dynamic pancakes perfect for any meal. Readers can enjoy creating recipes from more than 25 different countries perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack time, and even dessert. Pigott encourages adventuring into new territory with pancakes by preparing and eating them throughout the week and venturing beyond your typical pancakes with sugar and syrup and trying traditional recipes from countries like Japan, Sri Lankan and many more.
With a history dating back to at least the 1800s, blintzes are an essential dish in Ashkenazi Jewish homes throughout Central Europe. The name itself is Yiddish and means "filled pancakes." They are invariably served at Shavuot, an important Jewish festival that marks the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai and the beginning of the wheat harvest. It is a time when eating dairy is encouraged.
I like blintzes all year round as a wonderfully comforting food for breakfast or a delectable dessert. What I particularly relish about these unusually soft crêpes is that their filling reminds me of baked cheesecake. No wonder they are so popular in New York!
I use a mixture of ricotta and cottage cheese for my filling, together with egg yolk, lemon zest, and vanilla for a lighter touch, although traditionally it is a mixture of curd and cream cheese.
I have fond memories of my Hungarian great-grandmother baking a batch of blintzes when we visited her at her cozy flat in west London. Doilies were de rigueur. Her blintzes were always finished with confectioners' sugar and cinnamon, as cookbook writer Claudia Roden suggests. It might seem counterintuitive, but the crêpes are only cooked on one side initially, then, when they are baked or fried, the other side will brown beautifully.
Blintzes are customarily served with applesauce, although in the summer, a fresh cherry sauce, as used here, makes a delicious alternative.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 cup sparkling water
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 3 tablespoons butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
- 2-1/2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the filling
- 1 cup ricotta
- 1 cup cottage cheese
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
For the cherry sauce
- 2-1/2 cups fresh cherries, halved and pitted
- zest and juice of 2 oranges
- 3 tablespoons superfine sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons dark rum
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and sparkling water. Add the eggs, butter, and salt. Whisk again until fully incorporated. The batter should have the consistency of heavy cream. Set aside to rest for at least 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, to make the filling, put the cheeses in a large bowl or in a food processor and add the vanilla extract, egg yolk, and confectioners' sugar. Mix together, then put in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
- To make the cherry sauce, put the pitted cherries in a small pan with the orange zest and juice, sugar, cinnamon, and rum. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar. Keep the sauce warm.
- Before cooking the crêpes, add 1/4 cup boiling water to the batter and whisk thoroughly. This ensures the blintzes are soft and pliable when rolling (it's a tip I picked up from chef Michael Zee).
- You can bake or fry your blintzes to finish them, although I prefer them baked. If baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and butter a baking dish. To pan-fry, preheat a nonstick frying pan. Test that it is hot enough by putting a few drops of water in the pan. If the water sizzles, it is perfect for cooking the crêpes. If bubbles burst, reduce the heat a little. Wipe the pan with a buttered piece of paper towel, then pour in sufficient batter to coat the pan thinly. Cook over medium heat until the blintz is a little crispy around the edges and firm on top. Do not flip. Stack on a plate interleaved with paper towels. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more butter to the pan each time. (This can be done ahead of assembling the next stage, if you like.)
- When ready to serve, fill the blintzes. Put a blintz on a flat surface cooked-side up. Put 2 to 3 tablespoons of cheese filling in the lower third of the blintz and flatten with the base of a spoon. Be sure not to overfill. Fold the base of the blintz over the filling and then fold the two sides into the middle and roll the blintz from the base to the top.
- Put all the rolled blintz in the prepared baking dish. Scatter with cubes of butter. Bake for 15 minutes or until enticingly brown. Alternatively, the assembled blintzes can be fried in a large frying pan in melted butter for 4-5 minutes until crisp and golden, turning once.
- Mix the confectioners’ sugar with the cinnamon and use to dust the cooked blintzes. Serve immediately with the warm cherry sauce. Traditionally, sour cream is served too, but I think it might be too much, as the blintzes are plenty rich enough.
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Reprinted with permission from Flipping Good Pancakes by Sudi Pigott and published by Kyle Books, 2017.