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The Netherlands-American Association of Minnesota (NAAM) is a non-profit cultural organization which organizes social events and provides resources for people interested in or connected to the language, culture, history and heritage of the Netherlands.

Pannekoeken – Dutch Pancakes

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A stack of ready to eat pannekoekenMaking pannekoeken is an art. You can fully express yourself in almost any aspect of the pannekoek. There is great flexibility in the ingredients which alowes you to adjust the pannekoek to the occasion.

Of course, the pannekoek is more a desert or treat than it is dinner. However, the Dutch do eat it as dinner. Don't be surprised if after a pannekoeken dinner a sweet desert or ice cream is served. One or two large pannekoeken will satisfy your appetite for quite a while. The pannekoek is very popular among children. Children birthday parties often feature a pannekoeken dinner, competing with the french-fries-with-mayonaise dinner. Pannekoeken restaurants are common anywhere in the Netherlands, especially in the more touristic areas. Many restaurants have pannekoeken on their menu.

The ingredients of the basic pannekoek are incredibly simple. If you are a beginner, just start with the basic recipe and then make adjustments as you go.

  • All purpose flour.
  • Milk
  • Egg
  • Salt
  • Butter for frying

Notice there are no amounts. This is a reflection of the flexibility of the recipe. There are two simple rules to making the batter, one requires the use of metric measures and the other ommits measures all together.

  1. The amount of flour in grams requires twice as much milk in milliliters. For example, if you use 400 grams flour, you use 2 x 400 = 800 milliliters of milk.
  2. The batter when poured from a spoon or ladle, should flow easily. The batter must be liquid, not like water but it should run thin.

To give you some indication of the amounts, a recipe based on 400 grams of flour will make enough pannekoeken to satisfy a family of four. To make the pannekoeken, you need:

  • A bowl to mix the batter.
  • A mixer.
  • A ladle to pour the batter in the frying pan.
  • A frying pan.
  • A spatula to put bits of butter in the pan, turn the pannekoek and stack the pannekoek.
  • A plate to stack the pannekoeken.

The size of the ladle and the frying pan is part of the mystery of the pannekoek. The ladle and frying pan of every Dutch house determine the taste of the perfect pannekoek.

To make pannekoeken, do the following:

  1. Put the flour in the bowl.
  2. Add at least one egg.
  3. Since there is no yeast involved in this recipe, the salt is pure for taste. The recipe works as well without it. Try without salt, if you don't like a saltless pannekoek put a little salt in next time.
  4. Pour half of the milk into the bowl. If you use the weigth system, this is easy. Take a measuring cup and prepare half of the milk. Pour the milk and prepare the second half of the milk in the same measuring cup and let this milk wait for step 6.
  5. Mix the ingredients, until all ingredients are mixed. Start slow.
  6. Pour little bits of the second half of the milk into the batter. Since the batter will be liquid, there is a high likelyhood a splattering milk if you pour too much milk at once. Keep mixing, and increase the mixing speed. Do not forget to regularly mix in the batter that sticks to the bowl.
  7. In this recipe we do not use yeast, finalizing the mixing at top speed of the mixer may add some air to the batter which doesn't hurt the pannekoek. There is no yeast, so frying can start immediately when the batter is ready.
  8. Heat the frying pan. You will learn which setting of the stove works best after you have baked your first batch. You start, when the butter sizzles in the pan.
  9. Put a bit of butter in the frying pan. Swirl the pan, to distribute the butter over the whole bottom. Make sure to cover the whole bottom to prevent sticking.
  10. Take a ladle full of batter and pour the batter in the pan. The amount of batter depends on the size of the pan. When you pour the batter in a pan that is held horizontally, you will not cover the whole bottom at once and equally. You have to swirl the pan to cover the bottom. Too much batter and the pannekoek will be too thick, too little batter and you will not cover the whole bottom and you will have irregular pannekoeken.
    The swirl you apply to distribute the batter is part of the art of the pannekoek. The swirl will make each pannekoek unique. The side that is fried first will have a pattern of white and brown that depends on how you pour the batter and how your swirl the pan.
  11. Put the pan on the stove. At first the batter will be wet and shiny. When the whole top side of the pannekoek looks dry and is not shiny anymore, it is time to turn the pannekoek. If the pannekoek is not yet done, the pannekoek will stick when frying the second side.
  12. Turn (flip) the pannekoek. If the first side of the pannekoek is nicely brown, the amount of batter and the setting of the stove are good. If part of the pannekoek is black, there is either too much batter or the stove is set too high. If the pannekoek is not brown at all, you have too little batter or the stove is set too low. If the amount of batter is good according to step 10, then change the setting of the stove as needed.
  13. After only one or two minutes the second side of the pannekoek will be done too. If smoke comes from under the pannekoek, you are too late.
  14. Stack the pannekoek on the plate and continue with step 9.
  15. Serve with syrup or sugar.

That's all to the basic pannekoek. This recipe doesn't require yeast or self rising flour, there are recipes that require yeast or self rising flour. Every family should find out their prefference. As you may understand the above recipe is how my mother makes pannekoeken, or at least how I remember it. There is no reason why you shouldn't do it differently. You can also find 'Pannekoekenmix', these are mixes to which you only need to add milk or water depending on the brand. These mixes make good pancakes, but outside of the Netherlands they are harder to find. Pannekoeken restaurants usually use the ready mixes.

From the basic pannekoek you either add ingredients to the batter, add toppings while baking or use another topping when serving. The following list is an indication, please let nothing stop you from trying something you think you will like.

  • Currents, raisins, pieces of apple can go into the batter.
  • Thin slices of bacon, slices of (Dutch!) cheese or slices of apple can go on the pannekoek immediately after pouring the batter. Be carefull when baking the second side.
  • Hazelnut spread, chocolate sprinkles, apple butter or jam. Anything that can go on a Dutch sandwich can also be used as topping on a Dutch pannekoek.

Visit one of the many pannekoeken restaurants in the Netherlands to be inspired for possibilities. There are some truely Dutch pannekoeken restaurants in the US, although I don't know of one currently in Minnesota {On a side note: IHOP is not as international as the name suggests.} Some pannekoeken restaurants serve pannekoeken that would qualify for pizza or tortilla, still underneath that topping is pannekoek batter. From Yougoslavian restaurants you may even learn that a warm pannekoek with ice cream is a perfect treat or desert, don't forget the whip cream.

Find the pannenkoeken artist in yourself and enjoy the result.

Last Updated ( Monday, 05 April 2010 19:19 )  

Dutch Fact

The Netherlands is made up of twelve provinces (from the north to the south): Groningen, Friesland, Drenthe, Overijssel, Gelderland, Utrecht, Flevoland, Noord Holland, Zuid-Holland, Zeeland, Noord-Brabant, and Limburg.

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