There was so much to say about this classic - palacsinta [puh’ - luh - cheen - tuh] - that I devoted a blog post to it. Ideal to read that as well if you plan to make these. Because every Hungarian cook makes them, there are many variations on this basic recipe. For me this one has been flawless. [Inspired by: The Art of Hungarian Cooking by Bennett and Clark, 1954]
I am not so great at memorizing recipes, but I always know this is a 1-2-3-4 recipe. The trick is to remember which is which - eek! In the KB kitchen they are created from an almost Zen-like assembly line. In theory, one person can make them, but Mr. KB and i work as a team. The 15-20 "pancakes" this recipe yields happen faster because we cook on two pans at a time. As each one slides hot off the pan, my job is to fill them. While they can technically be placed in a pile and filled later, we love to fill the chocolate ones right away as the heat of the palacsinta melts the chocolate, resulting in luscious bites.
If you search for and view palacsinta videos, most show people making them using a small frying pan. In a perfect world, it is best to use an 8" pan designed for making crepes. They are flat with slightly beveled sides and the crepes slide off easily when done. A small basting brush comes in handy to spread the butter around the pan before making each crepe.
1 tsp salt
2 cups sifted flour
3 cups milk or equal parts milk and water
4 eggs, separated
Separate the eggs.
Beat the egg whites until stiff, but not dry - soft peaks. The recipe suggests doing this after mixing the batter, but i always do it first.
Using the whisk attachment on a stand mixer, combine the flour, salt, egg yolks and 1 cup of the milk. beating until smooth. Gradually beat in the rest of the milk to make a batter the consistency of heavy sweet cream. The technique I find works best is to add a bit of milk at low speed, then increase the speed until it is well mixed. After adding the first additional 1/2 cup of milk - scrape the bowl to ensure that there is not a clump of flour stuck to the bottom of the bowl. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter - use a whisk if necessary to nicely incorporate these into the batter. See Tips below. If you have time to let the batter sit for 15-30 minutes it gives the gluten a chance to relax = more delicate palacsinta. If no time - no worries.
- Place about 1/2 tsp of butter on the warm crepe pan. Use a small basting brush to spread the butter over the pan.
- Use something like a soup ladle to scoop out some batter - each palacsinta needs about 1/4 - 1/3 cup of batter. (Always stir the batter a bit before each scoop.) Empty the ladle full of batter onto the pan and lift, tilt and rotate the pan to swirl the batter over the entire pan. The crepe will be thin and you will see how it quickly begins to set. You can lift the edge a bit so see if the bottom is becoming golden with a few toasty highlights. Using an off-set spatula flip it over. It will only need to cook for 5 seconds or so on the other side. Slide the palacsinta onto a plate.
- Repeat steps 1 and 2
- Unless filling right away, these can be stacked in between plastic wrap or parchment and filled the next day. For serving, you'd want them at room temperature or a wee bit warmed in a microwave for ideal flavour.
Filling and Serving:
- No matter what the filling, the most common serving style is the roll, sprinkled with granulated sugar or icing sugar.
- As already mentioned, for the chocolate especially, we like to add / sprinkle this while the palacsinta is still warm. Preference is to use a high quality cocoa drink mix that has actual wee chunks of chocolate in it. You may be surprised to learn that we are not keen on using Nutella - it is too sweet and does not spread easily on the delicate palacsinta.
- When the filling is jam, I reach for traditional apricot jam - though one could use any kind.
- For ricotta filling I mix a desired amount with grated lemon zest and some sugar. Only about 6-8 of the batch get the privilege of being filled with ricotta and so I use about half of a container of ricotta - about 2 TB per roll.
Notes and Tips...
- Egg whites - take care to not over-beat these. If they are too stiff and dry they will not easily incorporate into the heavier batter; instead they will be like little clouds of egg white and this won't be ideal
- Milk or water - I always use milk, and have never seen anyone use tap water per se. What I have seen in Hungary is the use of soda / sparkling water for half of the liquid. Seems to work fine, but I have never done that.
- Salt (or sugar?) - there are recipe versions that suggest using salt for savoury filings and sugar instead of salt for dessert fillings. I have never bothered to fuss about this.
- Batter - I always use a mixer to do this. That first combo of flour, salt, egg yolks and 1 cup of the milk yields a very thick batter; be ready with the remaining two cups of milk and add the milk a little at a time beating constantly. This is a critical stage to producing a smooth batter. Once the thick batter is smooth and 'loosens" a bit the remaining milk can be added a bit more quickly.
- Butter - I was astonished that pretty much every palacsinta video I viewed showed people greasing the pan with oil instead of butter. Yikes! that just seems wrong to me - yuk.
- Make ahead - here are Martha's tips on making these ahead of time.
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