I think of the nun often.
I first met her in my office regarding her hip pain. I gathered history and learned Sister Ingrid (not her real name) became a nun in her home country of Germany, then lived in South Africa for 20 years before coming to the United States. When I met her, she was living in an apartment with other elderly nuns. She and her housemates still volunteered with Catholic ministries when not tending to each other’s health problems or driving to doctors’ appointments.
Sister Ingrid was a light. Although we explored numerous treatments for her hip pain, they did not help much as she had other issues in her pelvis that complicated her recovery. I had many patients in that office with debilitating pain, and I eventually felt jaded with their multiple visits or phone calls, their non-compliance, wishes for quick fixes, and the assumption that surgery was always the answer (nope!). I did not feel this way about Ingrid. Any time she visited my office or called me for advice, I felt a deep shame and disappointment in myself when I could not help her more with my medical advice. She eventually was evaluated for surgery for one of her other medical issues outside my scope of practice. On our last visit, before she was slated to have surgery, she thanked me profusely, sweetly. I felt unworthy. When I told her after this was our last visit and I was moving to a new office, she gave me a memorable hug, one suffused with such love that we both could not help but tear up as we parted.
It was after our meeting that I discovered this pannekoek recipe. Pannekoek is technically Dutch, thinner than an American pancake but denser than a French crepe. When I found its origins, I thought immediately of Sister Ingrid. It’s been almost six years since I’ve seen her, and this recipe still stirs the memory of her hug. The South African twist on these delicate pannekoek is filling with cinnamon, sugar, and lemon then rolled up to eat. I like to imagine that Sister Ingrid is making these pannekoek, standing in her modest kitchen on a brand new hip, pain-free. They’re comforting and sweet, just like Sister Ingrid.
One year ago: bourbon cherries – and prep for our Japan trip last summer
Two years ago: kombucha! (and tracy bonham)
Three years ago: the tart green
Four years ago: cranberry granita
- 1½ cups (355ml) 2% or whole milk
- 2 teaspoons sugar #1
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 3 tablespoons (80g) butter, salted or unsalted, melted
- ½ cup (70g) buckwheat flour
- ¾ cup (105g) all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons sugar #2
- 1 fresh lemon, cut into wedges
- Whisk all the ingredients except cinnamon, sugar #2, and lemon until smooth. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
- Allow batter to come to room temperature before cooking. Stir the batter well; it should be the consistency of cool syrup.
- Heat a 9- to 10-inch pan. Cast iron is great but you do need a little muscle to swirl the batter.
- Dribble a small amount of neutral oil in the hot pan and wipe it around with a paper towel to season the pan.
- Pour about ¼ to ⅓ cup of batter into the middle of the heated pan, immediately swirling the pan to distribute the batter. The first pannekoek or two may be testers as the pan gets seasoned and heated just right and you get the hang of how long to cook and flip.
- After about a minute, slip a silicon spatula around the underside of the rim of the pannekoek, then flip pannekoek over.
- Cook for about 45 more seconds then place on a plate to keep warm. Continue with other pannekoek.
- Mix cinnamon and sugar #2 in a small serving bowl.
- Serve flat pannekoek with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar, then roll up before eating.
- If cooking in advance, you can microwave briefly to warm. Store in fridge for about 3 to 4 days if completely cooled and well-wrapped. You can also freeze them once cooled, wrapped in plastic wrap, then in foil. Can be frozen for about 2 to 3 months.