Food

Berber 1000-Hole Pancakes: A North African sweet served with citrus-infused butter

Greg and Lucy Malouf’s take on this Moroccan recipe is perfect for your pre-dawn or iftar feasts this Ramadan.

Greg and Lucy Malouf’s take on this Moroccan recipe is perfect for your pre-dawn or iftar feasts this Ramadan

(Photography by Alan Benson)

If you’re observing Ramadan this year and going without food or water from sun-up to sun-down, having a few go-to recipes at the ready for your fast-breaking feasts is ideal. And if a variation of these porous crepe-like pancakes from Greg and Lucy Malouf’s cookbook Suqar isn’t already on your short-list, we present them now for your consideration.

Typically enjoyed pre-dawn or at iftar in Morocco and other parts of North Africa, these spongy sweets may not actually have 1000 holes like their name suggests, but they do have just enough spots to soak up alllll the syrup, butter and honey that’s slathered on top. The recipe will give you extra citrus-butter too, so you won’t have to make a new batch each time you cook up some ‘cakes. Scroll down to read more about the dish and learn how to get the texture and colour just right — without any flipping.

Berber 1000-Hole Pancakes with Date-Lemon Butter

By Greg and Lucy Malouf

These light and spongy semolina pancakes are a speciality of North Africa, where they are known as baghrir. They are often eaten during Ramadan, enjoyed warm with honey and butter. For something a bit more adventurous, we like to whip up a fruity date-lemon butter, which melts into an unctuous sweet slurry on the hot pancakes. The butter recipe makes more than you’ll need, but it keeps well in the fridge or freezer and is great to have on hand as an effortless base for quick butter sauces, for adding a quick flavour hit to savoury dishes, or just to spread on your morning toast.

Ingredients

  • 125 g fine semolina
  • 125 g plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 450 mL full-cream (whole) milk
  • ½ tsp dried yeast
  • 1 tsp caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 large egg

Whipped Date-Lemon Butter:

  • 50 g medjool dates
  • 30 g golden caster (superfine) sugar
  • 40 mL water
  • 30 g Confit Lemons (recipe below), chopped, or 1 heaped tablespoon good-quality lemon curd
  • 110 g unsalted butter, softened

Confit Lemons:

  • 2 large unwaxed lemons
  • 425 mL water
  • 110 g caster (superfine) sugar

Preparation

To make the date-lemon butter, blanch the dates in boiling water for 45–60 seconds. Drain and leave them to cool for a couple of minutes. Use a sharp knife to peel away the skins, remove the pits and dice the flesh finely, then put the chopped dates into a small pan with the sugar and water. Cook for 8–10 minutes over a medium heat, or until most of the water has evaporated and you are left with a sticky paste. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Once cool, stir in the chopped lemon, then whisk in the softened butter. Spoon onto a sheet of plastic wrap or baking paper and shape into a log. Roll up neatly, twist the ends, tie securely and chill until required. The butter will keep in the fridge for several weeks or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Sift the semolina, flour, salt and baking powder together into a large bowl. Warm the milk in a small saucepan to blood temperature. Stir in the dried yeast and sugar and stir until both are dissolved.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Dribble in the milk, whisking to combine evenly and to work out any lumps. Continue adding milk and whisking until completely incorporated. Finally, whisk in the egg. The batter should be silky smooth and the consistency of pouring cream. Cover and set aside for 1 hour until it starts to bubble.

To fry the pancakes, heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat (there’s no need to grease it). Stir the batter gently, then pour half a ladleful into the pan. Tilt it gently to spread out the batter – you’re aiming for rounds about 12 cm (4 ¾ in) in diameter – and cook for around 60 seconds, or until little bubbles appear on the surface and it starts to dry. Check the underside: you may need to adjust the temperature so it doesn’t colour too quickly. You’re aiming for a pale

gold tinge, not chestnut brown. (Note: you are only cooking one side.) Serve the pancakes one at a time, hot from the pan, or stack them on a warm plate and keep in a low oven while you finish the rest of the batter. Serve topped with a thin slice of date-lemon butter.

Confit Lemon:

Using a very sharp knife, trim the ends from one and a half lemons and cut crossways into 3 mm (⅛ in) slices. (Reserve the remaining half.) Carefully remove the pips, then transfer the lemon slices to a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a gentle boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain and repeat.

Add the measured water to the pan together with the sugar. Heat gently, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then return the lemon slices to the pan. Bring to a simmer, cover the surface with a circle of baking paper to keep the lemon slices submerged and simmer very gently for 45 minutes. Test to see if the lemon skins are tender; if not, continue cooking for a further 10–15 minutes, or until they are.

Use a slotted spoon to carefully lift the lemon slices into a shallow lidded container.

Measure the syrup and, if necessary, simmer to reduce it to 125 mL. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the juice from the reserved lemon half. Pour the syrup onto the lemon slices; ideally, they should be fully submerged. Cover and leave overnight before using. They will keep well in an airtight container for several months. Makes around 400 g.

Yield: Makes 12-14 servings


Excerpted from Suqar by Greg Malouf and Lucy Malouf. Photographs by Alan Benson. Recipes Copyright © 2018. Excerpted by permission of Hardie Grant. All rights reserved.

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