Sweet Cheese Pancakes (Sirniki)Posted: September 25, 2012
I’ve been trying to get this recipe right for a while. It’s my favourite Russian breakfast, and actually really easy to make once you know the technique. But my batter was often too wet, and my sirniki (literally, “little cheese bites.” Russian is so cute.) fell apart in the pan. Sometimes they weren’t sweet enough, or were too floury and dry. I had been getting my fix at Кофе Хаус instead, putting off another attempt. But this time, success! As my clever Russian friend suggested, one of the most important things is choosing your tvorog (or farmer’s/curd cheese for those not in Russia). It’s really important to get the high-fat, low-water kind that’s in the solid, flat packs. I like the Blagoda (Благода) traditional 18% variety. Essentially, sirniki are low-maintenance pancakes. You can mash away with a fork to your heart’s content, as fluffiness is not important here. Just heat up the remainders later on, and you’ll have another fabulous breakfast.
Sirniki (Adapted from here. There’s a really good video, too)
- 400g tvorog (or farmer’s cheese. I bet goat cheese would be nice as well.)
- 1 egg or two yolks (I used the whole egg)
- 1 tsp vanilla sugar (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
- 4 tbsp sugar
- pinch of salt
- 50g plain flour, plus extra for rolling your sirniki
- vegetable oil or butter, for frying (I used butter)
Throw your tvorog into a large bowl and mash it down with a fork. With the same fork, stir in your egg, vanilla sugar, sugar and salt until it’s uniform. Sift the flour if you like (I definitely did not) and put about half of it into the bowl with your wet ingredients. Stir well. Sift in the other half of the flour.
Preheat your frying pan on medium-low. On a large plate, dust a fair amount of flour. Take around a quarter-cup of batter and shape it into a ball. As you stick it in the flour, pat it down until it resembles a thick, round pancake. (Seriously, watch the video!) Then put it on a plate and repeat with the rest of the batter. When all the batter is used up, get frying; put a small pat of butter or 1 tbsp oil on the hot frying pan, and place your sirniki in gently. Cover with a lid and let them cook for around 2 minutes. Flip the sirniki and cook for another minute. Repeat with the remaining pancakes, and you’re done.
The classic way is to eat these with sour cream (or sour cream AND condensed milk), but I like them with butter and honey. I have a brand new pot of honey straight from the Moscow honey fair that I’m putting on everything. “Czarski” honey, in fact. And what a treat it is.