German pancakes are usually unleavened but these Bohemian yeast pancakes are an exception. They are a tasty dessert or light lunch in the summertime that is best served with some fruit on the side. Different from many American pancakes and baked goods, these pancakes are leavened with yeast instead of baking powder. They thus take a bit longer to make because you need to let the dough rise first. But the effort is totally worth it.
Traditionally, a special kind of pan is used to make these pancakes. This pan is called “Liwanzenpfanne” in German. I don’t have one but instead, use a round heatproof plastic ring mold. You can also fry these dumplings without a mold but then they won’t reach the same height that is characteristic of Liwanzen and they won’t be perfectly round.
As you can see in the picture below, a ring mold works just fine. You can remove the mold and flip the pancakes once they have almost fully set. Make sure to use a good amount of clarified butter or oil in the pan. Don’t fry the pancakes with only little oil as you would do for American pancakes! The pancake crust should have a fried texture.
Very important: Don’t turn the heat too high or else you risk burning the pancakes. They are thick so they take some time to cook through. Medium heat for a prolonged amount of time is the way to go. This will result in a golden brown caramelized crust as you can see in the picture below.
180 grams (6.4 ounces | 3/4 cup) whole milk, warmed to 40 °C (105 °F).
1 teaspoon sugar
5 grams (0.2 ounces) fresh yeast
2 eggs, yolks and whites separated
a few gratings of lemon zest, to taste
salt, to taste
130 grams (4.6 ounces | 1 cup) cake flour
For frying the pancakes:
clarified butter or lard
For serving the pancakes (all optional, to taste):
powdered sugar, for dusting
cinnamon powder, for dusting
fruit preserves of your choice (eg. mirabelle plums, sour cherries)
jam of your choice
sour cream, whipped cream, or yogurt
Prepare the pancake batter:
Heat the butter in a small pot or frying pan over high heat. Once it has taken on a hazelnut-brown color, take it immediately off the heat and leave to cool down.
In a bowl, whisk together the warm milk, sugar, yeast, egg yolks, and brown butter. Season with lemon zest and a pinch of salt, to taste. Then briefly whisk in the cake flour until smooth. Cover and leave to rise in a warm spot until the batter has thickened and is inflated with air bubbles, about 1-2 hours.
After the pancake batter has risen, in a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks and fold into the batter until smooth.
Fry the pancakes:
Preheat a nonstick frying pan over moderate heat. Add enough clarified butter or lard so that the pan surface is completely covered with fat. Pour the pancake batter into ring molds or spread them out like American-style pancakes in the hot fat. Wait for the pancakes to firm up before removing the ring molds and turning them over. Fry the pancakes on both sides until golden brown. If the pancakes are greasy after frying, then briefly drain them on paper towels after taking them out of the hot fat. It’s best to serve these pancakes immediately after you have taken them out of the pan but you can also keep them warm in the oven.
Serve the pancakes:
These pancakes can be served with anything you like. They are most often served with sour cream and plums in Germany.
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