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 cooked coconut filling.
As a teenager I loved them with macerated fresh berries or dulce de leche and caramelised banana.
I learned how to make pancakes from my father’s eldest sister Fatima, who passed away when I was a child. These pancakes are similar to french crepes and nothing like the fluffy American pancakes we saw on television as children. They are still one of my favorite Ramadhan treats, although my aunt’s delicious pancake recipe is long lost.
I spent many an hour at Tietie’s house (that’s what we called her) when we visited my paternal aunts on a weekend. 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 was her easy basic pancake recipe with easy coconut filling. She was incredibly patient with me and always took her time to explain what she was doing and why she was doing it.
I tried many sweet and savory crepe recipes in the past and they all left something to be desired. Some crepes were too thick, some too chewy and others too tough. I finally found the perfect thin pancake recipe without baking powder in one of my mother’s Two in One Cookery collection publications from 1994.
These are soft gossamer thin pancakes that are lovely eaten hot or at room temperature. They can be served immediately or the next day and are suitable for breakfast, iftar or dessert. For breakfast crepes the pancakes may be filled with berry compote or macerated fresh berries. They are also a perfect vehicle for crepe suzette with orange segments and juice or with caramelised condensed milk and sliced bananas for dessert.
They are so easy to make you will be wondering how something so simple can taste so delicious. My only tip for making the best tender crepes in the world is to let the batter rest overnight if you can, although a few hours will be adequate too. It gives a wonderfully tender end result and few or no accidental breakages.
If you have missed some of the other easy sweet and savory snack recipes why not try these:
- South African Flapjacks
- Creamy Cape Malay Boeber
- Daltjies Spinach and sweet corn fritters
- Sweet corn and polenta fritters
Cape Malay Pancakes with coconut or macerated 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.
Nutritional information for the recipe is approximate only and we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given.
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