Pancakes are so good, they are cooked all over the world. And this is not a figure of speech. From thin crepes in Western Europe to hearty, savory versions in Asia, flapjacks appear in different shapes and sizes but are equally loved everywhere. Consider giving up your favorite classic American pancakes just for a while and replace them with one of these easy and simple pancake recipes coming from the heart of the old continent.
In Central and Eastern parts of Europe, pancakes are called palatschinke or palachinka and are very alike French crêpes. They appear in the Balkan countries, Albania, Austria, Germany, Estonia, Hungary and other countries. These flapjacks are believed to originate from the Roman Era and that they have gotten their name from the Latin word ‘placenta’, which means ‘a flat cake’.
The main difference between these pancakes and crepes is that crepe batter is recommended to be left for at least an hour before cooking, whereas palatschinke can be cooked straight away.
The runny batter for palatschinke is made with flour, eggs, milk, and salt. It is fried in a pan greased with vegetable oil or butter. These pancakes are usually rolled instead of folded around a filling and often eaten for lunch or dinner.
Traditional fillings include fruit jams, most commonly strawberry, plum, and apricot, often covered with confectioner’s sugar.
Less common toppings are prune, cherry, raspberry, and sour cherry jams, apple sauce, lemon juice with sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate sauces and creams like Nutella, nuts (almonds or walnuts), fresh or dried fruits, cheese, poppy seeds.
Palatschinke Pancake Recipe
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
pinch of salt
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
How to make
Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Pour eggs and milk whisked together in advance and stir until fully incorporated.
Grease a nonstick skillet or pan with butter and heat over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup of the batter and swirl the pan to form a palatschinke. Cook until golden brown, for about a minute or two, turn and cook until the other side is brown as well.
These pancakes can be used to arrange a super decadent delight originating from Hungary called ‘Rakottpalacsinta’. The pancakes are layered with various toppings like cottage cheese jam, raisins, and nuts in between, then baked in the oven. This amazingly easy and delicious dessert is served hot, cut in wedges like a cake, and pairs beautifully with a warm cup of coffee!
Gundel Pancake Recipe
Another great version is the Hungarian Gundel, a pancake filled with an amazingly rich filling (read below to find out what it is filled with), then flambéed in a dark chocolate sauce.
This famous pancake was first prepared by a man called Gundel Károly, who owned a very famous restaurant in Budapest in the period between the two world wars. The pancakes were so good that the restaurant became famous not only in Europe but also in the States. The restaurant still exists today and still serves this delight.
5 palatschinke pancakes, made following the previous recipe.
1 cup ground walnuts (half ground, half chopped)
¾ cup heavy cream
½ cup sugar
¼ cup raisins
3 tablespoons rum
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup dark chocolate
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 egg yolks
¾ cup milk
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
How to make
Filling: Soak the raisins in warm water. In a bowl, add the walnuts (chopped and ground), followed by the sugar, grated orange peel, cinnamon, and raisins. Add the plums. Warm up the heavy cream just a bit, then add it to the bowl. Heat the mixture until thick and creamy. Set aside to cool, then add the rum.
Chocolate sauce: Beat the egg yolks and sugar together then add the milk and vanilla. Heat the mixture until thick and creamy but don’t boil it. Stir in the chocolate and cocoa. The butter goes in at the end. Keep stirring until it is fully melted. When this mixture is cooled, add the rum.
To serve the pancakes, put some filling in the middle and fold. Sprinkle with some butter and heat in the microwave for about half a minute. Alternatively, you can heat in the oven for about 4 minutes. The sauce should be heated too before pouring it over the pancakes.
Savory Palatschinke Pancake Recipe
Palatschinke are often eaten unsweetened, in combination with savory additions ranging from vegetables (mushrooms, cabbage, or spinach), cheese, sour cream, or meat.
Hortobágyipalacsinta is the name for palatschinke filled with meat, originating in Hungary. They are usually made with ground pork or chicken, but veal is also commonly used. The filling is folded just like a burrito and served with a sauce.
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup milk
½ pound ground meat
1/4 cup diced onions
2 peeled and diced tomatoes
1/4 diced yellow pepper
Salt, pepper, parsley and paprika to taste
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp. olive oil
sauce from the filling, combined with 2 tablespoons of flour and 1/2 cup sour cream.
How to prepare
Heat the oil in a saucepan and cook the onions until soft and translucent. Add the meat and cook until brown. Add the pepper and tomatoes, then add the spices (note ½ tablespoon paprika should suffice). Pour the water and cook until the meat is tender. Add the sour cream and stir. Place a large sieve over a bowl and pour the meat filling over it.
Make the pancakes following the instructions given in the recipe above. Put some of the meat mixture in the center of each pancake and fold. Place the folded pancakes in a casserole dish and cover with the sauce. Place in a preheated 350 degrees F oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes. Serve with a salad.