This recipe was guarded by the Russian secret police and reserved exclusively for top-level KGB officials.
Today is your lucky day. I’m risking life & limb and, more importantly, my parents’ lives here.
But you’re well worth it.
Official code name for this delight is syrniki. Dad made some for us this morning.
I ate so much that I can’t breathe, but I can’t stop smiling, because the whole house smells like
Butter & Vanilla.
Made from a Russian farmer’s cheese called tvorog, these buttery pancakes are great for breakfast,
but especially good as a luscious late-night snack.
The tvorog cheese is known as quark in the US.
There are different brands.
We usually get Lifeway with the pink label. (Blue label is low fat – Yuck!)
If you’re Amish, you can make your own cheese.
Natasha’s has the step-by-step in her post.
This recent obsession started when a new neighbour, Anya
moved into an apartment near my parents. Somehow their conversations lead to the subject of these pancakes.
My parents recalled the first time they tasted them back in the 1970’s. I was about 4 years old, we used to spend summers in a seaside village on the Caspian called Pahlavi.
I still have dream-like memories of the windy drive through the northern mountains, past roadside tea houses.
I loved playing in the water, but the shoreline bed was covered in clams. Dad had to carry me into the water, past the clams, because I was terrified that the fishies would swim into my tooshy.
No wonder I hated this swimsuit. I actually remember feeling it was way too revealing.
My parents convinced me to model it long enough for this front & back fashion shot. Then I got to wear my fav li’l bikini (which apparently I didn’t think was too sexy) and go back to playing on the beach with my cousins.
We always stayed at a cute villa that was owned by a Russian lady named Lala. It must’ve been the buttery pancakes she made that brought my parents back each summer.
Recently, these memories fueled a new friendship with their new neighbour, Anya who promised to teach my parents how to make authentic syrnikis for themselves.
Shawn’s been away for work this week. So I’ve had Mom & Dad with me.
Almost every night, we’ve been spoiled with these wickedly decadent treats. You have to eat them with sour cream and jam (sour cherry seems to be the best).
Mom has perfected the recipe itself. It took a lot of tries and taste-tests.
Months and months of research, changes, and more tests. No failures, but lots of tension around the waistline.
Guess who did all the QA?
And Dad, he’s made an art out of sculpting them into beautiful fluffy li’l round disks, all the same size and shape.
You’ve gotta see him.
Dad’s got a whole technique for this.
The weirdest thing is that Daisy actually doesn’t like eating these pancakes.
She’d much rather eat the sour cream.
By the spoonfuls.
This gets pretty messy, but it’s so entertaining that I don’t care. She will get sour cream all over her face, hands, GuamPa, the table,
and you, if you’re close enough!
The really interesting part is watching Dad shape the syrniki.
Deep in quiet concentration, he rolls a tablespoon of dough into a ball, then flattens it into a plump disk.
Then, pat-pat-ploomf off it goes into the flour for a coating. He gently dusts the excess flour off and sets onto a piece of wax paper where it sits while the next guy’s created.
I was going to tape him, but to be honest, I just stood there like a dummy, jaw hanging, watching him quietly shape the dough.
I did manage to snap some good pics for you, though, of the step-by-step process.
First, find a reliable sous chef and prepare the dough the night before. (Recipe & video follow.)
When you’re ready to fry the pancakes, take a tablespoon of dough.
Dust your hand with flour and roll the dough into a ball about the size of a lime.
Pat it into a disk about 1/2 an inch thick.
Coat generously with flour on both sides and set onto a piece of parchment paper.
When the oil & butter in the pan start to bubble, gently add the disks one at a time.
Be patient and allow the syrniki to brown well on one side.
Flip them carefully so they cook on the other side.
There, you go!
Eating these pancakes is your reward.
Top them with quality sour cream.
Then, add your favourite jam. Mom & Dad recommend sour cherry.
Syrniki (Russian Farmer’s Cheese Pancakes)
Makes about 8 plump pancakes
Note: Straining the whey out of the cheese is really a matter of taste. The whey is actually protein-rich, heart-healthy and gives the pancakes a bit of tartness similar to buttermilk pancakes. You can skip the straining part altogether, if you like. Just add a li’l more flour to absorb the extra moisture, maybe 1/3 of a cup.
The size & thickness of the pancakes is entirely a preference.
But, remember, the smaller they are, the more you can eat!
What to Get
2 lbs quark/tvorog cheese
1 cup flour
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
4 Tb sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extra
butter & oil for frying
extra flour for coating
sour cherry jam
What to Do
Place a colander over a large bowl and cover with a piece of clean cheesecloth.
Put the cheese over the cheesecloth , wrap into a tight bun and allow the whey
to drain, about 8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
To make the batter, discard the whey, remove the cheesecloth and place the strained cheese into the bowl.
Beat the yolks and egg together and add to the cheese.
Add the sugar, salt, zest, vanilla and incorporate everything together using a fork.
Dad finds a potato masher works well.
If you’re not ready to eat them yet, cover the bowl with plastic and store in the fridge for up to 1 day.
The dough travels well, too, if you want to take them to your daughter’s house and spoil her.
When you’re ready to fry them, gently start heating a nonstick pan, add a dab of butter and a drizzle of oil, so the butter doesn’t burn.
Cut a piece of parchment paper and place it over a clean plate/tray.
Put some flour onto another plate/tray and cover your palms with flour.
Take a tablespoon of dough and roll it into a ball about the size of a lime.
Rest it onto one palm and with the flat of the fingers of your other hand,
pat the ball down into a patty about 1/2 an inch thick.
Shape the rest of the pancakes.
Once the butter/oil has started to bubble and brown, gently place the pancakes, one at a time into the pan.
Take good care not to splatter any hot oil onto your hand.
After about 2 minutes, lift a pancake slightly to see how crispy brown the bottom has gotten.
Flip the pancakes and rotate the pan for even heating.
Serve hot with cold sour cream and your favorite jam.
There is a video available, if you want to see the process “live.”
You can see how easy they are to make.
If I can do it, so can you.
And you should, at least once.
Eating them is really easy, too!
Good luck resisting seconds with this one.
Remember that life’s short and breathing’s over-rated. Being happy is all that really matters.