As a child I loved the tender thin Cape Malay pancakes or crepes that were curled into tubes and wrapped around cardamom and cinnamon scented sweetened coconut. As a teenager I loved them with macerated fresh berries.
I learned to make pancakes from my father’s eldest sister Fatima, may ALLAH have mercy on them both and grant them the highest paradise. These are still one of my favorite Ramadhan treats, although my aunt’s recipe is long lost.
During my childhood I spent many an afternoon at Tietie’s house (that’s what we called her). She would ask me about my day and we would go into the kitchen and make stuff. Sometimes breakfast or a snack with tea while she listened to my chatter, or sometimes she would let me help her make things from scratch.
My favorite were her Cape Malay pancakes. She was incredibly patient with me and always took her time to explain what she was doing and why she was doing it.
I have tried many pancake recipes in the past and they all left something to be desired. Some were too thick, some too chewy and others too tough. I finally found the perfect recipe in one of my mother’s Two in One Cookery collection publications from 1994.
These are soft thin pancakes that are lovely eaten hot or at room temperature, immediately or the next day and are suitable for breakfast, iftar or dessert. The pancakes may also be filled with berry compote or macerated fresh berries or caramel and sliced bananas.
They are so easy to make you will be wondering how something so simple can taste so delicious. My best tip is to let the batter rest overnight if you can, a few hours will be adequate too. It gives a wonderfully tender end result and few or no accidental breakages.
Cape Malay Pancakes with coconut or berries
- 100 grams cake flour approximately 187 ml or 3/4 cup
- 15 ml fine granulated sugar
- 1 ml salt pinch of salt
- 125 ml milk approximately 1/2 cup
- 150 ml water approximately 3/5 cup
- 2 eggs large
- 5 ml vanilla extract approximately 1 teaspoon
- 15 ml vegetable oil or melted butter approximately 1 tablespoon
- 30 ml vegetable oil to grease the pan
- 75 grams fine dessicated coconut approximately 250 ml or 1 cup
- 250 ml water approximately 1 cup
- 2 pieces stick cinnamon small
- 2 pods cardamom bruised
- 155 grams fine granulated sugar approximately 187 ml or 3/4 cup
- 10 ml butter approximately 2 teaspoons
How to make the pancake batter
Sift the flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl.
In a jug whisk the eggs, milk and water until combined, about 2 mins.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add half the liquid slowly, stirring continuously with a whisk or wooden spoon to ensure there are no lumps.
Whisk for 5 minutes until the batter is shiny and smooth.
Add the rest of the liquid and continue whisking until the batter has the consistency of pouring cream.
Whisk in the melted butter or vegetable oil until combined.
Cover the batter and leave on the counter for 30 minutes to rest. You can also rest the batter in the refrigerator overnight.
How to make the coconut filling
Simmer all the ingredients except the butter together until the coconut is soft and the water has mostly evaporated. This takes approximately 30 minutes on a medium low heat.
Add the butter and stir until the butter becomes amalgamated with the coconut mixture.
Test the coconut filling to check if it is soft then remove from the heat and leave to cool.
How to cook the pancakes
Use a low sided crepe pan or frying pan to cook the pancakes.
Put the pan on a medium heat and brush a thin film of oil onto the base of the pan.
Add one ladle of batter to the centre of the pan and tilt and swirl the pan until the batter covers the base completely. Fill over any holes.
After 1 minute check to see if the pancake is cooked. It will loosen and slide and you can lift it from the base with a thin spatula to flip it over.
Cook for no more than 20 seconds on the second side.
Fill the bottom half of a pancake with the coconut filling and fold in the sides, then roll up. Take care not to tear the thin crepe.
If you don't like cooked coconut, then serve with fresh macerated berries or berry compote.
If using, always make the coconut filling while the batter is resting so that it is ready when the pancakes are cooked.
Do not overmix the batter as it will make the finished pancakes tough and chewy.
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This was first published on 22/06/2015 has since and been updated.