I have yet to meet a pancake I didn’t like. Crispy or soft, fluffy or flat, savory or sweet—they all stack up for a satisfying breakfast. I’m part of the rare plain pancake-eating species. Maybe it’s because I like snacking so much. A plain pancake with no toppings means I can walk around and do things while I casually chomp. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the added flavor of toppings, so I modified the typical flat, stacking breakfast cake to fit my on-the-go needs.
These roll-ups are a midway point between fluffy American-style pancakes and thin French crepes. They’re flexible like crepes, but have some baking powder in the mix to add a little levity. The other main difference lies in the toppings. Instead of coating the top of the pancakes with syrup, whipped cream, or spreads that require a plate, fork, and knife, the batter carries the filling within. You don’t need to skip the flavorful “toppings”; just put them inside. The shape makes for a pancake that you can take in the car, on the subway, or on a picnic.
How to make pancake roll-ups
Whether you go sweet or savory is up to you, just make sure the mix-ins are completely cooked before you start, because the thin pancake batter takes less than a minute to cook in the pan. For about six roll-ups, chop about one cup of mix-ins. I made a savory pancake with chopped turkey cold cuts, dry salami, and grated parmesan cheese. If you use fruit or candy, make sure you chop the pieces to the size of dried lentils. Large or sharp pieces can tear the batter when you start rolling, so the smaller or more flexible the mix-in, the better. Set these aside, they’ll be added last.
Mix the dry ingredients together in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until thoroughly combined. The batter will appear more watery than your normal pancake batter. (You can see in the picture that it’s rather thin.) Add the mix-ins.
In a 10-inch frying pan over medium heat, add enough butter to coat the bottom, about a teaspoon. Pour in 1/3 cup of the batter, and swirl the pan to get an even, thin coating. You may need to stir the batter before each pour if the add-ins settle to the bottom. After about a minute the pancake will be mostly dry on top and just starting to brown on the bottom. Use a rubber spatula to start rolling the pancake up as tightly as possible. I pressed gently with my finger to get a tighter roll, but mind you, it is very hot.
Let the pancake roll set for 10 or 20 seconds with the seam-side down. You can rotating the roll in the pan to get darker color on the outside and a slightly crispy shell, but this is optional, the roll is completely cooked. Remove it from the pan and let it cool on a wire rack. Repeat this for the rest of the batter.
I added 1/4 teaspoon each of parsley and pepper flakes, and you could sprinkle in just about any dry seasoning you want to modify the flavor profile. You could even add a slice of cheese, a fried egg, or a whole slice of ham to the hot pancake just before you start rolling it up to get a layered breakfast pancake. I haven’t tested this yet, but I bet you could use this recipe to make a mean frico pancake roll-up. The recipe below is savory, but if you want a sweeter batter, add two tablespoons of sugar to the dry ingredients.
Pancake Roll-up Recipe
What you’ll need:
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon dry herbs or spices (optional)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 cup chopped mix-ins (pre-cooked if raw)
- Butter for the pan
- In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until fully combined. The batter will be thin. Add the mix-ins last.
- Over medium heat, add enough butter to coat a frying pan, about a teaspoon. Pour in about a 1/4-1/3 cup of the batter into the pan and swirl to get a thin, even coating of batter. Cook for about a minute, until the batter is almost completely dry. Begin rolling tightly from the driest end with the help of a rubber spatula.
- Once rolled up, continue to cook and crisp up the outside if desired. Cool on a wire rack and serve on your way out the door.
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