Sunday, June 08, 2008

basic blintz batter and bletlach

blintzes are the jewish version of crêpes which are eaten year round. they are especially popular this time of the year to celebrate the holiday of shavuot, the end of the 40 day period when moses is said to have received the 10 commandments on mount sinai (counting beginning after the 2nd passover seder).

blintzes are not, however, eaten the same way thin french (folded) crêpes are — ours are always filled with something, either sweet or savoury, rolled up and pan fried in butter or margarine until they are golden brown.

the following recipe is one i found quite a few years ago which works extremely well. it can be made quickly in a blender or with a hand (or emulsion) mixer. do not use a food processor as it is not appropriate, especially for this volume. the recipe can be cut in half.

if you want to make the bletlach (yiddish for "leaves" i.e. the crêpes) to use with a savoury filling, omit the sugar & vanilla and replace it with salt. you can make the recipe parve (non dairy) by using soymilk or just water. it all works.

as with all crêpe batters, you MUST let it rest in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 to 3 hours before using it for best results.

an important thing to remember is that it is best to use a crêpe pan but to be honest, any fry pan will do. the advantage of a crêpe is that it is made from steel which conducts the proper heat and the sides are beveled which form the proper edge to help make the blintz leaves. i use a 8 1/4" pan (measured from side edge to side edge) to make these. if you are using a fry pan, try to use one which will form the exact size (a finished 7 1/2" crêpe).

to make this size, i use a little less than a 1/4 c of batter per blintz leaf. do no pour out the excess — this is not necessary. just keep swirling the pan around to coat the surface (which is why you need the right diameter pan!). if there is any patch which is not coated, you can add a few extra drops of batter.

blintz leaves are only cooked on one side and they should be barely coloured. if they are browned, the heat is too high. lower it to a medium low heat. it should only take up to one minute or so to cook each leaf.

you really only need to oil the pan for the first one you make. there is enough butter or oil in the batter to help them not stick after that. keep in mind, the first one(s) may look terrible, especially if you have never made them before, but with each successive one, you will improve.

follow these guidelines and you should (hopefully!) be very well rewarded.

look here for the cheese filling.

basic blintz batter & bletlach

makes 20 to 24 (7 1/2") bletlach or blintz crêpes


4 large eggs
1 c milk (or water or soymilk for parve version)
1 1/2 c water
1/4 c sugar (for sweet version)
1 tsp vanilla (for sweet version)
2 tbsp butter or margarine/oil**

1/4 tsp salt (if making savoury version)

2 1/4 c cake flour*

*cake & pastry flour is best though you can get away with all purpose flour
** DO NOT omit! this is essential in helping the blintz leaves not stick to the pan


make the batter by placing the wet ingredients together in your blender.

mix well until blended for about 30 seconds.

place the flour directly on top of the mixed wet ingredients.

cover and blend for about 1 full minute.

at this point, you will end up with about 5 cups of batter. you can pour the batter in a fine meshed strainer, as is classically done, to make sure you have a perfect batter (i recommend this for beginners). place the batter, covered, in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours. longer is better.

after having let the batter rest, you will notice it will have separated into layers. this is normal.

take a whisk and redistribute the liquids.

the consistency should be like that of coffee creamer (a bit thicker than milk). it needs to be liquid and not thick like pancake batter to form the blintz leaves correctly.

prepare the pan —

heat your pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

take it off the heat and add about 2 tsp of butter or margarine/oil. swirl it around. i always do this over the sink.

with a wadded piece of paper towel, wipe out the excess. you need a thin film only.

to make the blintz leaves:

return the pan to the heat. make SURE it is on a medium to medium low heat. usually, you always need to adjust the heat for the first few.

measure out a little less than 1/4 cup of batter. i have the right size ladle so i don't need to measure.

sorry, no picture here (impossible to take pictures and swirl at same time!)

add the batter to the pan and swirl it around, off the heat, until it coats the whole surface. i am assuming you're using the proper sized pan to ensure you get a perfect round. don't worry if you get spots that seem uneven or a little bumpy. if there are any open holes, fill them up with a little extra batter. you DO NOT need to pour out the excess provided you used the right amount.

cook the blintz leaf until it seems dry on top. this should take a minute or so only. DO NOT overcook them. they will bubble a bit on the surface when ready.

to remove the crepes from the pan:

take a blunt knife and loosen each around the edges. take the pan off the heat at this point.

now take the whole pan, and turn it over to flip the bletl (leaf) onto a plate. if it doesn't fall out easily, it may be your pan or your technique. try lifting the crêpe up with your fingers from the edges just to release it from the surface before flipping it. flipping them over directly on top each is the easiest way to do it.

look at your first blintz leaf. it is is browned, the heat is too high. time to lower it and continue on. the top of the side you flip over should be barely coloured. it's fine if it's a little lightly browned.

continue on this way until all are cooked. it will take patience to make them as it is about an hour event. (yes, it's long.....but think of the results!)

stack the blintz leaves one on top of the other in a neat pile. let cool.

if you're worried they'll stick to each other, don't! they won't.

n.b. you can cover the cooled leaves and store them in the fridge for later (or the next day).

now go fill your blintzes and enjoy!


sara said...

are bletlach as thick as french regular crêpes? i know you say to use a little less than 1/4 cup for each but they seem thicker than crêpes, same technique however!

burekaboy — said...

sara - these are a bit thicker so, yes, they are different from the french ones (but only slightly); i think they have more eggs than the standard batter. 1/4 c doesn't sound like much but for the size pan that is used, it's plenty. you'll let me know what you think when you finally try them.