Happy Birthday, Bear (Palaczinta!)
Eight years ago today, I became a mom. Eight years ago today I first got a look at the pointy-headed purple-faced alien-looking creature who’d been kicking my rib cage over most of the summer and early fall. Now he’s this big tall kid who runs and reads Harry Potter and is too cool to hug his mom in front of his friends…It’s my boy’s birthday.
I told him he could have whatever he wanted for breakfast. He asked for Palaczinta, a kind of Hungarian pancake like crepes, that my mom used to make for me when I was a kid and which we loved. My kids love them too. The good thing about making them on a school day is that you can make the batter the night before and let it sit overnight in the fridge.
(Okay, remember my post at the Green Phone Booth about organic healthy whole food vs. organic not-even-remotely-healthy food? This is very clearly not on the right side of that line…be warned.)
Hungarian Palaczinta (makes about 16-18 pancakes)
In a large bowl, lightly beat with a whisk: 6 eggs, 1-2 tsp sugar.
Whisk in 2 1/2 cups milk, 1/2 tsp salt, and about 1 tsp sugar
Slowly add 2 cups flour, a little at a time and whisking well after each addition. It should be smooth and a little thick by the time you’re done. Add a little more milk if it’s too thick. I’ve heard that some also add a little nutmeg here, but I forgot.
Whisk in 6 tbs melted and slightly cooled butter. (Yes, that’s 3/4 of a stick of butter. I told you this wasn’t very healthy.)
Let sit half an hour, or overnight in the fridge. In the morning, if necessary, add a little more milk or up to half a cup seltzer water and whisk well to thin a bit
Heat a 10 inch skillet, preferably with a little curve to the sides, to medium high heat. (If it’s nonstick, you can do this without additional butter.) Pour enough batter in the bottom of the skillet so that you can swirl it around to cover the bottom. Let cook about a minute, till the lacy edges are a little brown and it’s bubbling up a little in the middle, and flip over. Cook another half minute on the second side, and remove to a plate. Continue until all the batter is used, stacking the pancakes on each other as you go. (The really high amount of butter in here keeps them from sticking together! Sigh…butter…)
To do this the proper Magyar way, you’d fill them with various cheese and fruit and nut mixtures and re-bake them. (Think Hungarian blintzes.) If you are my kids, you drizzle a little honey or maple syrup on them, or smear on some applesauce and a little cinnamon sugar, or jam, and roll them up. Then you eat them with your fingers, drizzling sticky whatever all over the place and getting it on your clothes.
Now okay, I’m sure you could use whole wheat instead of white flour. And I’m sure you could substitute some neutral oil for some or all of the butter, and probably use a good bit less of it. But the fact is, these things are so simple ingredient-wise that changing any of the ingredients fairly dramatically changes the taste of the final product; I’ve never tried oil for the butter, but whole wheat for the flour is just not very pleasant in this context. (Maybe you could add some honey or something, or maybe the overnight sit would help remove some of the in-your-face whole-wheatiness of the flour?)
For us this is just one of those special occasion really-not-good-for-you things we do once in a long while.
Happy Birthday, Bear.