Korean Sugar Pancakes

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I’ll go weak in the knees for anything that tastes remotely like a cinnamon roll. They are my downfall. Yeasty bread, gooey melted sugar & butter and hefty amounts of cinnamon. Swoon! The problem is that I’ve yet to find a homemade cinnamon roll recipe that really lives up to my ideal bun. And attempts to do so require quite a bit of a time commitment. And sometimes I’d really rather just eat one without all that work.

A couple months ago i came across this recipe for Korean Sugar Pancakes from Notions & Notations of a Novice Cook. It has most of the elements of a cinnamon roll – yeast dough, sugar, cinnamon, nuts – but is much less fussy. My sister-in-law told me they are a common korean street food, and i was pretty eager to put one in my mouth asap. So this weekend I took a shot at it.

If I could do the whole thing over again, I would try to stuff even more cinnamon sugar filling into each pancake, cook them in a cast-iron skillet, and use quite a bit more oil to brown them. I’d also watch my back to make sure my dog isn’t eating 3 of the uncooked pancakes as I’m mid-fry with the others, as she just so happened to do this last time. At least we both enjoyed them! They really were not much effort to put together and really hit the spot. I’ll definitely be revisiting this recipe often.

KOREAN SUGAR PANCAKES

INGREDIENTS

Dough
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 packet of instant yeast
1 cup  warm water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons of any nuts, chopped (i used almonds)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Method

Mix water, yeast, sugar, salt and oil together until dissolved. Add in the flour and mix with a spatula just until incorporated. Cover the bowl, and let sit at room temperature for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size. (I like to put my dough bowl in a warm oven. Turn the oven on for 2 mins, then shut it off and pop it in).

While you wait for your dough to rise, make the filling. Mix the sugar, chopped nuts and cinnamon together in a bowl. Set aside.

When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down using your hands or a spatula and let it rest again for another 20 minutes. Pour the sticky dough onto a floured surface and knead for a couple minutes with well floured hands until the dough comes together.

Roll into a ball and cut in half and then cut each half into four smaller pieces, so you’ll end up with 8 pieces of dough. Again with floured hands take each ball of dough and pat it flat with your hand and fill the middle with a HEAPING spoonful of the sugar mixture. Slightly push with the back of a spoon so the sugar sits nicely in the dough. Fold up each end and pinch slightly together so it seals shut.

In a well oiled cast iron skillet, pour in a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil so there is a thin coating and heat on medium flame. Put the ball of dough pinched side down and cook for about 30 seconds until browned. Flip over and carefully push the ball down into a flat pancake with the back of your spatula and cook for another minute. If it seems like you can’t flatten the ball anymore, then don’t force it – you might have put too much filling and the sugar will just burst out. Flip again and cover with a lid and cook for another minute until the sugar is nice and melted. Repeat until all the dough-balls are cooked. Stack them in a plate and give a them a little sprinkle of powdered sugar if you are so inclined.

Makes 8.

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