I don’t know any kid who doesn’t like Curious George or pancakes, so Curious George Makes Pancakes is definitely a smart book idea. What I like most about this book is that it has everything you need to know about food.
Food is serious,
food is fun,
food is simple,
food is a great way to give – pleasure, new experiences, and service to the community.
And food can generate appreciation.
I never had pancakes before coming to the States. I grew up eating another sort of pancake, the Moroccan pancake or baghrir. While pancakes are made with a cake batter, baghrir is made with a yeasty batter, like bread batter. That’s why Moroccans like baghrir drizzled with Moroccan olive oil or with honey. Sometimes baghrir is enriched with eggs, milk, butter, and a kind of baking powder, making it more like a brioche.
I am still loyal to the version I grew up eating, which has simply warm water, yeast, flour, semolina, a little sugar, and a little salt. Like bread, you need to let the batter rest for a couple hours to let the yeast do its work, which is key to creating the airy aspect of baghrir.
As a child, watching baghrir cook was a most entertaining sight. Little bubbles of gas appear one after another, popping and leaving holes all over. That’s why Moroccans like to call baghrir: mille trous, or a ‘thousand holes,’ a play on mille feuilles (a thousand sheets), the French name of a puff pastry known in the US as the Napoleon.
I’ll call my recipe for baghrir ‘A Thousand and One Holes,’ since for me it’s all about food and children’s stories. Here’s my recipe, try it some time and let me know how you like it.
Batter: 2 cup all-purpose flour. 1 cup fine semolina flour. 1 packet dry yeast. 3 cups lukewarm water. 1/2 teaspoon salt. 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar.
Syrup: 3 tablespoons butter. 3 tablespoons honey.
Steps: Dissolve yeast and sugar in lukewarm water for 5 minutes to make sure yeast is alive before you add the rest of the ingredients. Then, in a blender, let the mixture work for 1 minute or so, until it resembles crepe batter. Pour into a bowl, cover tightly, and let rest for a couple hours.
When ready to make baghrir, heat a lightly oiled non-stick pan, scoop about 1/4 cup of batter onto the pan, and let cook until you see holes all over and the batter is entirely dry. There is no need to flip. Remove the baghrir with a spatula and place on a dry towel.
To make the syrup, just melt the butter and honey together. And, enjoy!