Florentine pancakes

Florentine pancakes

Crespelle alla Fiorentina

By
From
Tuscany
Serves
6
Photographer
Helen Cathcart

An Italian lady showed me a brilliant trick for frying pancakes: cut a small potato in half and spear the rounded side with a fork. Dip the flat side into oil in a small bowl and use it to wipe a thin layer of oil around the frying pan – it doesn’t absorb the oil like a piece of paper towel. You can use a tin of Italian plum tomatoes as the passata – just purée them with a stick blender or in a food processor. The pancakes can be made with any flour, but do adjust the milk quantity accordingly to reach the same consistency. The batter is easier to work with if it is made at least 30 minutes in advance. It can be made a day in advance and kept in the fridge covered in cling film (plastic wrap). Traditionally, fine white ‘00’ flour is used for the pancakes but we like to use nuttyflavoured buckwheat, which, despite its name, has no connection to wheat. It is related to the rhubarb family, is very nutritious and contains no gluten. This recipe makes slightly more pancakes than you need, to allow for a few mishaps!

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient

For the pancake batter

Quantity Ingredient
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
150g buckwheat flour
550-600ml milk
extra-virgin olive oil or lard, for frying

For the filling

Quantity Ingredient
250g cooked, squeezed and finely chopped spinach
250g ricotta
25g grated parmesan
1/4 teaspoon finely grated nutmeg
salt
freshly ground black pepper

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
400g Homemade tomato sauce
or Fresh tomato passata
500g Béchamel sauce
25g grated parmesan

Method

  1. To make the pancake batter, whisk the egg, salt and flour together in a large bowl, then gradually add the milk, whisking constantly, until you have a very smooth batter the consistency of single cream. Let it stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes (or longer in the fridge – overnight is fine).
  2. Meanwhile, make the filling by mixing the ingredients together in a bowl and adding seasoning to taste.
  3. While you fry the pancakes, leave a whisk in the bowl, as you need to stir the mixture thoroughly each time you add some batter to the pan. Wipe a little oil in a 25 cm non-stick frying pan using a halved potato on a fork or a piece of paper towel. Pour in 75 ml of batter with a ladle or small measuring jug, swirling it around the pan to coat the base evenly. Fry the pancake over a medium–high heat for 2–3 minutes, flipping it over when one side is lightly browned to cook the other. Transfer it to a plate. Fry the rest of the batter in the same way, stacking the pancakes on the plate as you make them. While you are frying the pancakes, preheat the oven to 180°C.
  4. To serve, spoon half of the tomato sauce or passata and half of the béchamel onto the base of an ovenproof dish. Spread each pancake with 3 heaped tablespoons of the ricotta and spinach filling, covering half the pancake then rolling it up. Lay the pancakes in the dish. Top with the remaining tomato sauce or passata, followed by the béchamel. Scatter over the Parmesan and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the cheese has started to brown on top.
Tags:
Italy
Italian
Caldesi
Tuscany
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