Not just for Shrove Tuesday: Latvian apple pancakes

Finding a Latvian dish to cook was not an easy task. We had Ash’s family staying with us and our initial plan was to make something Latvian for dinner. The problem was, we couldn’t find anything that really appealed to us. Our Lonely Planet Travel book suggested piragi, which it described as meat pasties baked in the oven, and that sounded promising until we realised that it was little more than a bacon roll and more of an appetiser than a main course. We were intrigued by a dish of grey peas with bacon, but we weren’t confident of finding grey peas, so that was out too.

Then we turned to the ever-trusty Global Table Adventure where we discovered a recipe for Latvian apple pancakes. Perfect! We had a recipe, we could make it for our guests for breakfast, and we could have boeuf bourguignon for dinner instead of grey peas.

Apple pancakes

Ingredients
1 cup apple, peeled and very thinly sliced (in hindsight, we’d have also cut them up a bit smaller)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
2 tbsp sugar
3 eggs
2 tbsp butter, melted, plus more for cooking
1/2 cup milk
1 cup plain flour
Pinch of salt
Toppings of your choice: yoghurt, honey, jam, icing sugar…

Method
1. In a small bowl mix the apples with the cinnamon, cardamom and sugar.
2. Mix the eggs and flour together until a lump-free paste forms.
3. Slowly whisk in the milk and melted butter until the batter takes on the consistency of gravy – thinner than American-style pancakes but thicker than crepes.
4. Add the apples.
5. Cook the pancakes in a buttered frying pan on both sides until golden (a couple of minutes on each side).
6. Serve with your chosen toppings (apparently yoghurt with honey is the most traditional).
Serves 4 (or 2 if you’re really hungry)

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Pancakes occupy a strange position in the British diet. Unless it’s Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day), no one seems to eat them. This does seem to be changing slightly as more and more Americanised brunch menus keep appearing, but there are still plenty of people who will give you a sideways look if you make or eat pancakes on any of the other 364 days of the year. We think those people should try these pancakes. They were so easy, and so good! We were worried at first that the cardamom would overpower them, but in the end it was OK, although if you’re not a big fan of cardamom we’d probably recommend decreasing the amount a bit. We tried some topped with yoghurt and honey and some with strawberry jam, and enjoyed both, but thought that the jam added an unnecessary extra flavour, so preferred the yoghurt and honey.

So all in all, a success, and our guests seemed to enjoy the experiment too! Stay tuned for a very different pancake recipe, this time from Finland…

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