Cape Malay Pancakes or pannekoek are tender thin crepes that are curled into tubes and wrapped around cardamom and cinnamon scented sweetened cooked coconut filling.
These Cape Malay pancakes are nothing like the fluffy American pancakes we saw on television as children. They are the South African version of the Dutch and Belgian pannekoeken and one of the fruits of our colonial past.
My father’s eldest sister Fatima, who passed away when I was a child, taught me her pannekoek recipe. Pancakes with coconut filling (pannekoek met klapper) are still 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 pancake recipe without baking powder, stuffed with cooked 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. My recipe is an easy pancake recipe for kids so that your children, nieces or grandchildren can have the same positive bonding experience that I had helping my aunt in the kitchen.
How to make pannekoek
I tried many sweet and savory crepe recipes in the past and they all left something to be desired. Some pannekoek turned out too thick, some too chewy and others too tough. I finally found the perfect thin pancake recipe in one of my mother’s Two in One Cookery collection publications from 1994.
- They are so easy to make you will be wondering how something so simple can taste so delicious.
- This pancake recipe with water and milk for thinning the batter is more tender than using only milk.
- To make the most delicious pancake recipe in the world it is recommended to let the batter rest overnight if you can, although at least three hours will be adequate too. It gives a wonderfully tender end result and few or no accidental breakages.
- My pannekoek pan is a standard low sided crepe pan. When cooking off the pancakes I brush the surface with a light coating of vegetable oil to prevent sticking, even though it is non-stick.
How to eat pannekoek
- These are soft and tender thin crepes are lovely eaten hot or at room temperature.
- Pannekoek can be served immediately or the next day and are suitable as breakfast crepes, savory crepes or dessert crepes.
- For breakfast crepes the crepe fillings can be 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.
- As a teenager my favorite pancake fillings were macerated fresh berries or dulce de leche and caramelised banana slices.
- My sister in law and I tried French crepes with cinnamon sugar and lemon juice on our first visit to Paris nearly 20 years ago. Every day we walked past a crêperie and on our last day we could no longer resist the delicious aromas and decided we had to try it. Even now I shudder at the taste and texture of the crepe. I much prefer our malay pancake recipe.
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.
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