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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Reheated: Flat and quick

One of my regular stocked items for cooking once, and eating over the course of several days are the various incarnations of flat breads or pancakes. They're easy to make, can be sweet or savory, freeze well, defrost quickly, are preportioned, and reheat rapidly, making them ideal for any time of the day. The technique is easy to master, and really, very forgiving. Once made, depending on how they were flavored, pancakes can be used to hold a filling, and these combinations fight the potential monotony of eating a single meal item for an extended period of time. Plus, they're portable.

I've found that yeast risen wheat pancakes an easy way to get started. The base I usually start with is an egg, a couple of healthy pinches of salt, about 2-3 Tb of sugar, 1.5 cups of milk or water, 1 cup of flour (I like using bread flour, but regular all purpose will do), half a tsp of quick rising yeast, and a couple of Tb oil or melted butter. Mix this together into a thick liquid batter.

Then cover, and leave it at room temp overnight.

Next day, you can add more spices, or sugar, or dried fruit, or some liquid to thin it out, or even cheese, before cooking it on a hot pan. Some spices will inhibit the growth of yeast, though, so add it after the rise. I find that the yeast risen dough just tastes better, and the overnight autolysis of the gluten makes for a very forgiving batter. I also prefer the crust that forms on a standard stainless steel or iron pan than that on a nonstick surface, but either one will do.

To cook, just pour some batter into a hot pan, wait couple of minutes (it'll bubble), then flip, and cook the other side a couple of minutes. The Korean pahjeon technique stuffs the batter full of vegetables or fish (scallions are normal), and pours the whole batch into the hot skillet to make a massive pancakes that's tricky to flip. I just stick the whole thing in the oven to bake, and under the broiler to brown before cutting into wedges.

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