Syrniki; Another Version of Russian Pancake
Since pre-Christian era, pancake has become a favorite meal option because it is so easy to make and very satisfying. Without coordinating between one another, people from various regions race to make the best kind of pancake with ingredients that are available around their place of residence. Once, Buzzfeed even managed to compile a list of two dozens pancakes from around the world! There are US Buttermilk Pancakes, Austrian Kaiserschmarrn, Australian Pikelets, Chinese Cong You Bing, France Crepes, Greece Tiganites, Hungarian Palacsinta, Indian Uttapam, Japan Okonomiyaki, Korean Kimchijeon, Mexican Hotcakes, Venezuelan Cachapas, and many others, including the famous Blini.
You may have heard about Blini too. The extremely well-known Eastern European pancake is available all over Russia and its surrounding countries, from the busy skyscrapers in Kiev and Moscow to the valleys and mountainside of Caucasus. However, there are another version of Russian pancake that is no less popular than Blini in the country. It is called Syrniki.
The delectable Syrniki distinguish itself from Blini through the heavy use of Tvorog, the cottage cheese that may be one of the most popular dairy products in Russia. The “syr” part of the name means “cheese” in both Russian and Ukrainian. Sometimes, it is also called “tvorozhniki” because the first part of the name then specifically refers to Tvorog. Outside Russia, Tvorog can be replaced with other types of cheese, but the taste will not be the same.
Beside of that, unlike Blini that may be filled with sweet or salty fillings, Syrniki is simply fried pancake batter which may or may not be mixed with raisins. During tumultuous periods in Russian history, Syrniki is recognized as a favorite treat among poor villagers because it doesn’t require many ingredients. You can even make Syrniki with leftovers from last week’s groceries!
Syrniki is available in most restaurants and cafes that serve traditional Russian menu, both in and out of Russia. It may also present in the menu of Ukrainian restaurant. However, it can be made quite easily in your own kitchen. Are you interested to know more? Read the following article to learn about how to make Syrniki, another version of Russian pancake that can be served as nutritious meal for daily breakfast.
As mentioned earlier, every pancake is basically easy to make. This goes for Syrniki too. The cheese pancake also don’t need too much time to prepare and cook. For a batch of around 10 pancakes, you will only need around 20-25 minutes. Furthermore, the batter can be pre-made and stored in the fridge to shorten its cooking time when you want to serve it for a quick breakfast.
Ingredients for 10 Syrniki pancakes:
- 1 lb of Tvorog (alternatively, you can use farmer’s cheese or Quark cheese)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup of all purpose flour for the batter
- 1/3 cup of all purpose flour to dust the pancake
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 cup of raisins (optional)
- 6-8 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Crush the cheese with fork in a large bowl, add 2 eggs, then mix it well. Add flour, salt, and sugar while continue mixing the batter and breaking any clumpy parts with the fork. Throw in the raisins (if you want to add it in your Syrniki). Don’t add any water or milk, because Syrniki batter has to be thick and heavy (unlike the typical US buttermilk pancakes which requires smooth batter).
- Scoop approximately 2-3 tablespoons of the batter to make a small patty. Dust it with flour all over, shake the excess flour, then set it aside. Do the same until all of the batter is gone.
- Prepare a non-sticky frying pan, heat some vegetable oil. Note that you are not going to deep-frying it, so just throw a bit of oil to coat the pan and do not overdo it. Lower the heat to medium-low, then place the Syrniki dough onto the pan with a spatula. Cook both sides of the Syrniki until golden, take it out and let it cool in a paper towel to absorb excess oil for a few minutes before serving.
Some Tips on Making and Serving Syrniki
First, to make Syrniki, you don’t really have to prepare fresh Tvorog, but you can make use of leftover Tvorog that may have become less edible without being cooked. Due to the long periods of crisis in the past when many important daily needs are not available and unaffordable, Russian nowadays tend to avoid throwing out food products of any kind. So, if the old Tvorog can be made into a delicious cheese pancake, then why throw it out to the garbage bin!?
Second, as a substitute to Tvorog or farmer’s cheese, you can also make use of ricotta cheese. However, you have to put it in a colander overnight in the fridge to drain excess liquid from the cheese beforehand. It is for the same reason why you may not add water or milk into the mix. If you use ricotta cheese without draining it, then the Syrniki dough may crumble on the pan because there is too much liquid in the batter.
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Third, to cook Syrniki, you can choose any type of vegetable oil, such as canola or coconut oil. However, you should avoid olive oil, because the result will be too savory and the smell may be too strong that it surpasses the original taste of the cheese pancake. When making Syrniki, you are looking for a sweet and cheesy taste that can be accompanied with various topping with sweet or sour flavor, instead of savory condiments.
Fourth, Russian traditionally serves Syrniki with some sour cream on the side. Well, sour cream is served as condiment with any type of food including cakes and some of the most famous soups in Russia, so it is not so surprising. For authentic gastronomic experience, you can do the same. But if it is not suited to your taste, actually you can also serve it with more raisins, fresh berries, powdered sugar, honey, whipped cream, some Russian whole fruit jam, or maple syrup like how buttermilk pancakes are commonly served in North America.
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