recipe

Credit: Photography: Earl Carter

Pancake Parlour games

I suppose we could start by talking about the time I worked at the Pancake Parlour. It was many years ago, while I was still in school. It taught me about systems, efficiencies, mental arithmetic and flipping pancakes. There was a little bit of prep, too – if you can call adding water to a packet mix prep.

It was weird, if I’m honest. Codes would come into the kitchen – SSIC, for a short stack with ice-cream – and I would set to work at a big grill alongside other teenagers. I forget how I ended up with the job. Let’s call it a stroke of bad luck. I lasted about six months.

Since then, I’ve been fascinated by pancakes and continued to develop my pancake-flipping skills.

The ricotta pancake recipe here could be credited to Bill Granger, although I’m sure he’s not the first person to add ricotta to a pancake. The batter I use is quite wet and I like to cook it in a small griddle pan, allowing the mixture to run right up to the edges to form its shape.

This pancake I do not flip – I put it in the oven to finish. You could say this is a somewhat controversial decision. I would say it’s because I still carry some RSI from my Pancake Parlour days.

The difference between this pancake and other batters is that the whisking of the egg whites before folding them into the batter makes a really light and fluffy pancake.

The blini is another favourite using this technique, although it is made with buckwheat. It is traditionally served with caviar, and only made my acquaintance after I left the back of Pancake Parlour.

As far as savoury pancakes go, though, I can’t go past Chinese spring onion pancakes. Different to European pancakes, which usually contain a leavening agent, this does not and has more of a flaky texture. As it’s rolled and layered, the dough traps pockets of air and moisture from the spring onions, which expands as it cooks to save it from being a brick of dough.

Served by itself as a snack, it’s a popular street food in China and makes a nice change from rice.

 

Spring onion pancakes

Makes 8 pancakes

– 300g plain flour

– 160ml water

– 2 tbsp vegetable oil

– salt

– 1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder

– 5 spring onions, finely sliced

In a bowl, mix the flour and water until it comes together as a dough. Tip the dough onto your bench and knead it for five minutes until smooth and pliable. Put the dough back into the mixing bowl, cover with cling wrap and leave to rest for 20 minutes.

On a lightly floured workbench, roll the dough into a sausage shape and cut it into eight equal pieces. Roll these into circles about 20 centimetres in diameter. Brush one circle of dough with vegetable oil, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, a pinch of five-spice and an even scattering of sliced spring onions. Roll each circle of dough tightly, creating a sausage shape. Twist the sausage of dough into a coil, tucking the end underneath. Flatten the coil gently with your hand, then reroll it into a 20-centimetre disk.

Place the pancake on a sheet of baking paper and set aside. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Working in batches, cook the pancakes for about two minutes each side until golden and blistered in spots. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

Drink pairing:

2 Brothers Kung Foo rice lager, Moorabbin, Vic (four for $20)

– Leanne Altmann, wine buyer, Supernormal and Meatsmith

 

Ricotta pancakes

Makes 6-8 pancakes

– 11/3 cup soft ricotta

– ¾ cup milk

– 4 eggs, separated

– 1 cup flour

– 1 tsp baking powder

– pinch salt

– 2 tbsp butter

In a mixing bowl, beat together the ricotta, milk and egg yolks. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture and stir to combine.

In another mixing bowl, whip the egg whites and a pinch of salt until stiff peaks have formed.

Gently fold the egg whites, a third at a time, into the batter.

If you have small pancake pans that can go into the oven (about 10 centimetres in diameter), use them. Otherwise, use a larger frying pan with a metal handle that can be placed in the oven.

Melt a teaspoon of butter in each pan, over medium heat. Pour some batter into each pan and cook gently for about three minutes, until the bottom is golden.

Place the pancake pans on a tray in the oven and bake for six minutes until just set. Turn the pancakes out onto a serving plate and serve with good-quality maple syrup.

Drink pairing:

2015 Vietti Moscato d’Asti Cascinetta (375ml; $25)

– Leanne Altmann, wine buyer, Supernormal and Meatsmith

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Oct 22, 2016 as "Spring onion pancakes and Ricotta pancakes". Subscribe here.

Andrew McConnell
is the executive chef and co-owner of Cutler & Co and Cumulus Inc. He is The Saturday Paper’s food editor.

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