Recipes from the past: Palačinke
Aren’t the best foods the ones your mom or grandma made while you grew up? They were made with natural ingredients. The kind you tended to always have on hand.
Several summers ago, my husband, for our 25th anniversary took me back to the land of my ancestors. Slovenia!! Guess what I discovered? The food my family ate was the same food of Slovenia! At the hotels for breakfast they served Palačinke, they had Poteca (pronounced patitsa), there were even restaurants with a goulash that tasted an awful lot like my grandmother’s stew. When they offered jam, it was apricot or boysenberry. Not many people have a jar of apricot jam in their fridge or were raised on boysenberry jam, instead of strawberry or grape. However, those were the only 2 jams in my refrigerator growing up. Who knew that I grew up immersed in Slovenian culture, four generations later! It was so fun to know that the culture and traditions of Slovenia still live strong in our family. It makes me wonder what foods and traditions live in other people’s homes? So over time, I am going to be posting original recipes that are from my home or the home of friends that have traveled across the world and are still part of all of our family’s traditions and culture, several generations later!
Today, I am going to share a family favorite! Every birthday, holiday and special occasion, my children request food that has been passed down from Great Great Grandma Franchiska Locicinik, born in Lepa Njiva, Slovenia. We know this recipe goes back at least 4 generation, because we have that documented. But I am sure these family recipes that are unique to most Americans, but common in Slovenia, go back even farther!
Palačinke (the c is pronounced as a “ch” sound) is from Slovenia. There are many countries that have its own type of a crepe. I figure the closest to palačinke is the Swedish pancake. Palačinke is a thin sweet crepe. NOT the same as a French crepe. In Slovenia, you can order these at restaurants filled with hazelnut crème, or boysenberry jam, or any number of delicious fillings.
However, the reality of palačinke is that it is made for breakfast! Traditionally, you just smother it with butter and then add a thin layer of apricot jam or a boysenberry jam. My children prefer it with just a little butter because it is already sweet.
So today I’m excited to share our authentic family recipe in order to give you a taste of … Slovenia!
Palačinke (Slovenian Crepes)
- 6 eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/3 cup flour
- 1 3/4 cup milk (2% or higher)
- Mix first three ingredients (eggs, sugar and salt). Slowly add the flour. Mix well till smooth. Last, while mixing slowly using a spatula or a whisk, so as not to create a foam, add the milk. Room temperature helps to make a smoother batter.
- Directions: Heat pan, swirl a teaspoon or less of vegetable oil in the bottom. Add approximately 2 TBS. of batter and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Loosen the palačinke around the edges of the pan with a spatula or flipper and carefully flip over the palačinke. Only let cook a few more seconds. Then repeat.
The ingredients are simple…the trick is to make it a “smooth” batter; we will discuss that part below.
How to make the Palačinke batter:
There are many kinds of utensils used to make a great batter. But in reality our grandmothers and great grandmothers didn’t have these modern conveniences and so I will give you examples of what I use from elaborate to simple.
I usually use a bosh mixer. When I’m out of town I use a hand mixer (here’s my favorite a Breville – I will never buy a different brand for my kids or myself again!) But our mothers probably just used a whisk!
Add the eggs, the sugar and salt. Mix slowly as to not cause bubbles. Mix till smooth.
Next add the flour. Again mix slow and make sure there are no lumps left in the batter. You will get a few air bubbles as the mixture is getting thick now. As you can see in the photo below.
It’s the milk that makes the batter tricky. I either mix on super low speed. Or, I tend to fold in the milk with a spatula or wisk. If you mix it in too fast, the batter becomes foamy. Foamy batter does not cook well. If this happens then I use a separator – see my example below (I love my separator. Not just for separating the foam from the mix but even if I mix the palačinke perfectly, I love the way it pours out evenly and is less messy when it’s time for clean up. Otherwise I use a large spoon or glass measuring cup with a spout.
If you’d like to make the batter the night before here are my tips:
Make the batter as directed above; only reduce the milk by 1 cup. You’ll need to add that 1 cup of the milk back into the recipe in the morning. Place the batter in the refrigerator overnight. You can cover the bowl with saranwrap or place in a bowl that comes with a lid. The next morning, pull the bowl from the refrigerator.
The Trick: Let the batter get to room temperature. It will help the batter to thin a bit. Then slowly stir or fold in the 1 cup of milk that you held out from the night before. Stir in the milk gently to help reduce the foam that can be created from adding the milk. If you don’t wait till the batter is at room temperature it will be thick and it’s hard to cook the perfect thin palačinke.
The batter is now ready to cook!!
How to cook Palačinke:
Palačinke is meant to be paper thin, and the edges, just a touch crispy, but flexible and smooth. It is hand flipped. I’ve used a crepe maker too. They are fun and easy, but they do not make the palačinke as tasty. If you choose this option for cooking. Add 1 TBSP of vegetable oil to the palačinke mixture. It helps with the flavor.
I will explain to you, step by step, how to make the perfect palačinke. At first it takes practice. But after a couple times of making these, they will go fast. Besides, my kids love my mess-ups! Those are free game to grab before breakfast and just eat plain! Mmmm!
Here is my set up:
OIL- Vegetable oil in a dispenser or a Pyrex measuring cup.
1 use a 1 cup pyrex glass cup with a spout. I like the spout, it helps to pour and you don’t need a lot of oil to cook this yummy type of sweet crepe. (Oil is hot and can melt plastic measuring cups or metal ones can get hot and burn hands, so I think glass is best). I use approximately 1 teaspoon or less of oil in-between each palačinke until the pan is well oiled. Then not as frequently do I need oil to keep the palačinke from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Sometimes I get a little careless and pour too much oil into the pan. Too much oil in the pan can make the palačinke too greasy. So I swirl the oil to coat the bottom of the pan and then pour the rest of the extra oil back into my 1 cup Pyrex measuring cup to use later. You will never use a full cup of oil to cook 60+ palačinke. So I only fill to the ½ cup measurement, but I still don’t use it all.
PANS – I did not own a crepe pan till this Christmas and I love it.
Pans do make a difference on ease of cooking. As a poor college student I used my mom’s old pans. But use whatever you have. I do love my “tramontina”, my stainless steel skillet with a cooper thick base and red heat resistant handle. I also love my new Cusinart 10 inch crepe pan. All my pans are 9-10 inches. The last pan is a Professional Quality Tri-Ply Clad Stainless Steel 9 inch Skillet. All the pans work great, it’s just a matter of figuring out the high or low of your stove for each pan. I prefer cooking on a gas stove, but grew up cooking on an electric.
BATTER – Containers for pouring
SPATULA and PLATE (if you’re making for the masses, then a plate that can sit in the oven while the dial is on warming, can keep stacks of palačinke warm. Cover in foil to help keep in the moisture)
Ok let’s do it:
- Place a little bit of oil on the bottom of the pan. Let it warm up (you will only need to do this for the first 2 or 3 times. Then the oil heats instantly when you place it in the pan).
- Swirl oil to cover bottom of the pan. (you will develop strong wrist muscles and good flexibility as you practice! haha)
- Next…pour (approximately 2 TBS) of the batter into the middle or off to one side of the pan and swirl to cover the bottom of the pan. I sometime use a large mixing spoon or another 2 cup pyrex glass measuring cup, or my separator (the separator is my favorite). It depends what is available at the time and how my batter turned out.
Make sure pan is not too hot, for my gas stove I keep the controls around medium. Sometimes I have to move it up closer to medium-high in the beginning as my pan is getting evenly heated. I then turn the gas down to medium or a bit below medium. It depends on my pan and how quickly I pour, cook, flip, and repeat!
- 4. Immediately swirl the batter to cover the whole bottom of the pan, (sometimes I have to use a little bit more of the batter to cover some bare spots, but a few bare spots on the edges isn’t bad. That’s why if you make the batter just right, thin but not milky, it swirls perfectly and can cover the whole pan without extra batter)
- 5. Use a thin flexible spatula to carefully scrape down along the edges of the batter all the way around the pan loosening the edges of the palakinca. Here is my absolute favorite spatula turner for everything!! Berndes 9011 Black Slotted Nonstick Spatula Turner
- 6. Then fit spatula under the palačinke and flip. That’s the tricky part, you need to do it gently so you don’t tear the thin palačinke. Sometimes you must gently use your spatula to go around the edges, loosening the palačinke and then sliding under the center of the palačinke to make sure nothing is stuck to the pan before you flip.
It only takes a moment for the second side to be cooked. Take it out and place on a plate. My mom would make stacks of these and place foil over them. Then place them in the oven to keep warm while she would make another plate full of these. I make two plates full and then the whole family sits down to eat. NO eating without me! These are a bit of work, but so worth it. After you get the hang of it, you can make around 80+ in under an hour.
Here I have 3 pans going at the same time.
My mother has made thousands of these thin wonderful palačinke in her life time! In a motorhome, a tiny kitchen in my college apartment and even on a Coleman stove while camping!
If you have any Slovenian heritage, these would be a great way to help your family connect to their heritage OR they’re just a yummy tradition to start in your family!! Look around today and see what your family eats that may be different from your friend’s cooking. You never know if it’s part of your heritage culturally or traditionally! Either way, document it, talk to your kids about it, and create memories with it! You never know, it may become part of your family heritage in just a couple generations! Food has a powerful way to connect the past with the present and into the future.
Have a fabulous day! And remember to take a moment to make a memory…because “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass!”
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