Monday, 30 April 2018

Oladi - Russian Yeast-Raised Pancakes

Russian, I'm saying, but versions of these are found all over eastern Europe. Until the advent of baking soda and baking powder, all baked goods were raised with yeast. Native North Americans raised their cornbreads with alkaline wood ashes, as yeast would do nothing with their gluten-free corn. European settlers created more refined versions and since then it seems most pancakes are raised with baking powder or soda.

Yeast-raised pancakes are fairly different. They are light and fluffy, but with the solid substance of bread. Mom thought these were a bit like French toast, and I can see that. The three of us ate all of them, but we didn't have anything else with them, other than butter, syrup and jam. I think they would do better alongside other breakfast items, so I am suggesting smaller portions. This would be an easy recipe to cut in half if you didn't want so many.

I found they needed to be cooked at a slightly lower temperature than I usually cook pancakes, crepes and eggs, because they were so thick. Keep the pan well oiled, and don't crowd them. Strangely, we thought these were much better with jam than with maple syrup; perhaps because of being more like bread than the pancakes we are used to. Apart from the time needed to allow them to rise, these are no more difficult to make than any other pancake, and if you like a really thick fluffy pancake these are well worth trying.

4 to 6 servings; 18 to 24 pancakes
20 minutes prep time plus 1 hour to overnight rise
10 minutes prep time plus 1 hour rise
20 minutes cooking time

Russian Yeast-Raised Pancakes

2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry active yeast
2 1/2 cups unbleached hard or all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
mild vegetable oil to  cook

Warm the milk with the sugar and salt; it is easiest to do this in the microwave but do it in a series of short times, as the milk will curdle if it gets too warm. It should just feel comfortably warm to your finger. Stir it each time, before you determine its temperature.

When it is warm, sprinkle the yeast over it, and let it sit and work for 10 to 15 minutes.

Have the flour sitting in a mixing bowl, and stir in the milk and yeast mixture until it is a smooth batter.

If you are leaving it to rise overnight, cover it at this point and leave it in a spot at cool room temperature. Beat in the melted - but not hot - butter, and the eggs in the morning.

If you are starting them in the morning, beat in the melted - but not hot - butter, and the eggs. Cover and let rise until double in size; about 1 hour in a slightly warm spot.

You want to get the butter and eggs mixed in thoroughly, but do not over-do it, as you do not want to undo all the work of the yeast. Once the butter and eggs are mixed into the batter, cover the bowl again and let it rise until doubled once more, in a slightly warm spot.

Pour enough oil into a large, heavy skillet to cover the bottom thoroughly to a couple of millimetres  deep. Heat the oven to 200°F and put an oven-proof dish in it to receive the finished pancakes. Heat the skillet over medium heat until it is hot, then drop in the batter by spoonfuls to make fairly small pancakes. Dip the spoon into a glass of warm water between each pancake, to keep the batter from sticking to the spoon.

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