Merciful God, You are great in compassion and Your tenderness for us is without measure. We ask You to give us today our daily bread, and also provide for the needs of all of Your hungry children around the world. Through Christ Your Son and Our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Polish Pancakes: Naleśniki

When I realized only the two younger children and I would be home for dinner on the Feast of St. Faustina, yesterday, I decided not to make our traditional pierogie dinner. While the kids don't mind plain pierogies, the dish I usually serve on St. Faustina's feast day has peas and onions, and they are not huge fans, though Doug and I very much enjoy it.

Instead I was thinking "pancakes," because it was a dish my mom would often cook for us when my dad was absent from dinner. It was cheap and easy and we preferred it to just about any dinner food. ;-) So pancakes and bacon it was, but these were no ordinary American pancakes. I did a little research and found that Polish pancakes are a real treat, and nothing like their American counterparts. The pancake itself is very thin -- crepe-like. And they are filled with yummy things and rolled up, and often baked or fried again. I decided to make the traditional cheese naleśniki, which reminded me very much of a blintz, which I have a few times and very much enjoy.

I topped my own Naleśniki (according to Google translate pronounced nah-leh-shneek) with warmed up Marion Blackberry jam, as did Faith, but Noah used pancake syrup, even though I told him the Polish don't have Eggo syrup. I served them with bacon, in the American tradition. I have not a drop of Polish blood, and have never eaten authentic Naleśniki, but I did enough research and combine what looked like authentic recipes, so I think we came pretty close. These are a little messy to make, but once you get a rhythm going of making them, they are a pretty easy dish to prepare.

Faith ate one pancake, and was full, so I would count on one for each small child. I messed up one of the "crepes" but would have had ten if not for the first mess-up.

St. Faustina, pray for us.

10 pancakes/rolls
printer version

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup lukewarm water
4 large eggs 
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 T. sugar
Pinch salt

three or four tablespoons melted butter

2 cups solid yogurt cheese (see note below) or, alternately, ricotta cheese
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
5 T. sugar
2 T. flour
2 t. vanilla

Place pancake ingredients in a blender and whirl until combined. You could also use a mixer but the blender makes it easy to pour from.

Stir together filling ingredients until combined.

Butter a 9 x 9 dish. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Over medium-high heat, heat a large non-stick skillet. When it is hot, butter it, using a heat-safe pastry brush and melted butter. Pour a very thin layer of pancake batter into skillet and rotate until a large part of the bottom is covered -- just a thin layer, but not so thin that it falls apart. You shouldn't be able to see through it, but it should not be anywhere near as thick as an American pancake -- it should be crepe thin. Cook until edges begin to brown and then dump it -- upside down -- onto a buttered platter.

Butter the skillet again and pour in more batter.

On pancake you dumped out, spread a thin (about 1/8 inch) strip from edge to edge down the center of the pancake. Fold one uncovered third over the filling , and then the other. Then roll it up from one short end. Place seam side down in dish.

Repeat with all pancakes, having one cooking while you are filling the other.

When your dish is full, brush the tops with melted butter and bake for 30 minutes, or until they are lightly browned on top.

* For yogurt cheese, I started in the morning and spooned 2 to 3 cups of good, 2% Greek yogurt into a cheesecloth-lined strainer (you could also use several layers of paper towels, and you can also use whole milk yogurt; I would not use non-fat myself). Place strainer over a bowl to collect whey. Refrigerate all day until you have a very solid ball of yogurt cheese -- it should be the consistency of ricotta cheese. If you start with regular yogurt instead of Greek (in which the straining process has already been about 50% done) you'll need about 4 cups yogurt and you may want to start the night before to leave enough time to get a nice solid ball.


Amy Caroline said...

Those look so good!! My mouth is watering!

Lori N from MN said...

These look very yummy Barbara!!

My grandfather was 100% polish, and in my very humble opinion, I think this version seems a bit more "modern"...
My grandfather was born in 1906... and his mother taught my grandmother 'the right way' to make them after Papa and Nanny were married! The recipe for the pancakes we always ate, and I still make, is much more basic.
Grandma used just flour, egg, water and a pinch of salt. (They were a family staple during the great-depression, I was told.) We make them crepe-like thin, but we cook them very briefly on both sides, in a moderately hot cast iron skillet.

The way Papa (and the entire family) always ate them was stacked three high, with the bottom one topped with butter and a slight sprinkling of brown sugar, the middle one with butter and homemade jam or jelly, and finally brown sugar again. Then just roll jelly-roll-like.

Yes, the toppings would drip out, but they are oh-so delicious. Thanks for the prompting, I think I'll make them this weekend.