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Matzoh Meal Pancakes

Joan Hamburg mentioned matzoh meal pancakes on our Weekend show last Saturday, and her telling her how to make them made me realize I hadn't eaten them in many years. Now I am obsessed. I have made them several times over the last few days, and I realize how hard it is to give a hard and fast recipe. For one thing, brands of matzoh meals vary. I used Manischewitz and Streits. I like taste of the Manischewitz better, but the point I want to make is that they absorbed the water and egg differently. No matter which brand you use, you will have to make a judgement call about the proportion of egg and water to meal.

I was after a thin, lacy-edged pancake like my grandmother, Elsie Sonkin, made. I ended up adding water as I cooked the batter because the longer the batter stands, the thicker it becomes. If you'd like a thicker pancake, or a puffy pancake, because that is your memory, then you won't have to keep adding water. Or maybe you will.

This is such a humble recipe, it rarely appears in cookbooks. Whenever I have found it in published sources, it is gussied up in some way – apples are added, sugar and spice is added, grated lemon peel … you get the picture. It does appear on the back of some matzoh meal boxes, however, although on the Manischewitz box I have in my kitchen right now, there's a tablespoon of sugar in the batter and the beaten egg whites are folded in (see variations). If you want a sweet pancake, be warned that a batter with sugar will brown quicker than one without. Sugar caramelizes.

Matzoh Meal Pancakes

3 eggs
3/4 cup cold tap water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup matzoh meal
Vegetable oil, chicken fat, or butter for frying


In a medium mixing bowl, with a fork, beat together the eggs and water until well blended. Beat in the salt, then the matzoh meal. Set aside while preparing the pan.

Use a medium to large skillet. The larger the pan, the more pancakes can be cooked at once. Pour in enough oil to make about a 1/8-inch layer. Over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it shimmers and a measure of pancake batter begins to sizzle and cook immediately. As you cook, you will have to adjust heat to keep the temperature of the oil hot, but not smoking or so hot that the pancakes brown before they cook through.

Check your pancake batter. For thin pancakes with lacy edges, it needs to be the consistency of heavy cream. Add water, a tablespoon or less at a time, to bring the batter to the correct consistency. For thicker pancakes, the batter only needs to be pourable. If it doesn't spread in the pan as you pour it into the pan, you may want to spread it slightly with the back of the spoon from which you are pouring it. I use a 1/4-cup measuring cup, using only about 3 tablespoons of batter for each pancake (that would be a 3/4 full 1/4-cup measure.)

Pour the batter into the hot oil and fry until the first side is golden brown, 60 to 90 seconds, depending on how hot the oil is and how thin the pancakes are. Turn the pancake. The second side takes less time, about 30 seconds.

Drain pancakes on paper towel or brown paper and serve while still very hot.

Serve the pancakes plain, with sour cream, with apple sauce, with a sprinkling of granulated sugar or with jam, jelly or marmalade.

Variations:

Some people use milk instead of water.

For a sweeter pancake, you can add a tablespoon or even two tablespoons of granulated sugar to the batter.

For a puffier pancake, separate the eggs, beat the yolks with the water, then beat the whites until they form peaks and fold into the batter.

For a savory pancake, to serve as a side dish, add grated or minced onion to the batter.


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