I’m not big on traditions and especially on keeping track of them or any other cultural or public holidays. I don’t know when the next Bank Holiday is until it arrives, I don’t know when the Mother’s or Father’s days are. I’m really bad at those things. I can probably name no more than five special days, except birthdays, which I always do remember. Christmas, New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s day and St. Valentines day. And I also know that there’s a St. Stephens day… Is it just before Christmas? – See, I’m awful.
And I am even worse when it comes to Russian holidays, but maybe it is because there are way too many of them, I don’t know. I usually get reminded by mom about those holidays approaching. But getting a reminder doesn’t even mean I will remember on the day of the holiday what day it is.
This week, however, is a Pancake Week in Russia. The holiday is called Maslennitsa, which comes from the word Maslo, meaning Butter. It is a very old tradition, happening on the last week of February. It is to bid farewell to Winter and celebrate the coming of Spring. For those who are close to traditions, it is a huge public celebration with dressing up in Russian traditional clothes, dancing, playing games, burning a doll made of straw and, of course, making pancakes.
The traditional pancakes must be of a nice brown colour and very buttery. Very very buttery. Although in my family nobody really liked buttery pancakes, so ours were quite low-fat, if you don’t take milk and eggs and butter for greasing the pan into account. And if as a kid I was alright with those ‘low-fat’ pancakes, now I’m not.
I am the only vegan in my family. My 2 year old daughter eats mainly plant-based foods too, with the exception with one serving of yogurt every other day or so. But we don’t put a tag on her, so she is not vegan. But she does love pancakes and the healthier I make them, the better. Luckily, my husband, who loves meat and eggs, doesn’t care whether I make pancakes eggless or with eggs and which milk I use. So here goes my take for a somewhat healthier version of pancakes.
For the pancakes:
- 2 cups Milk (I used Rice milk, but it’s up to you. You might need to adjust the flour amount according to your choice)
- 1 cup Water (Or just add 1 more cup of milk)
- about 2 cups Flour, plain or sifted wholemeal (Wholemeal makes them a bit harder, while plain flour makes softer pancakes. You can mix them in any proportions to achieve the result you want).
- 1.5 tbsp Brown sugar
- A dash of salt
- A dash of Baking soda or Bicarbonate of soda.
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 0.5-1 tbsp Olive oil
For the Apple Cinnamon Filling:
- 4 Pink Lady Apples, or any other sort
- 1-1.5 Tbsp Brown Sugar
In a big bowl combine milk and water, add sugar, salt, cinnamon and soda. Mix well. Gradually, in batches, add the flour whisking until there are no visible clumps. Add a little bit of olive oil. It gives a more appealing colour and texture. If the batter is too thin and watery, add more flour; or add more milk or water if it’s too thick. It should have the consistensy of cream, not a heavy cream.
Depending on your pancake pan you might need to grease it a little. From my own experience, non-fat cooking sprays do not work well. I poured a little olive oil on a saucer and used a piece of kitchen paper to oil the pan. This way the oil amount you put on the pan is minimal. Brushes will work too, I just don’t have one.
Heat the pan on high heat, pour a ladle of batter and fry until it comes off easily, then flip and fry until ready. Again, depending on the pan, you might need to grease it before every pancake.
Peel, core and chop the apples into 1-in thick pieces. Put them into a small pot on the stove, heated on high heat. Add cinnamon to cover all the pieces and stir them well for a few minutes. Add sugar, stir again to mix well, but too long or the sugar will start to burn. Add as much water as needed to cover the apples, no more than that. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and leave uncovered until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove apples from the stove. Let cool a little.
Put a couple tablespoons of apples on the pancakes and enjoy! 😉