Palačinky, Palatschinken or Central European pancakes

During my recent visit to Prague I was surprised by the big amount of savory Palačinky (Czech for pancakes) variations, served in many restaurants or cafes as a quick and very delicious meal. In my city of birth, Vienna, on the other hand, you will hardly find savory Palatschinken (Austrian German for pancakes) served in a restaurant (unless you choose to go out for French food and eat Galette or Crepes) but you get sweet pancakes for desert at the majority of places. The variety of savory pancakes in Prague really surprised me for the fact that the linear distance between Prague and Vienna is only about 250 km and the two cities were once joint by the Austrian-Hungarian empire.
Sweet pancake with jam
In contrast to the north American pancakes, which are generally served for breakfast, the central European pancakes are very thin, bigger in size and eaten for lunch, dinner or as desert…. and they are filled, either with chocolate sauce, jam, ice cream or similar to make a sweet desert or topped with meat, cheese, spinach etc for a savory meal.
Pancake with fresh greens, roquefort cheese and pears
You will find many variations for the pancake batter in Central Europe, the basic batter being a mixture of flour, milk, eggs and salt. Many times these ingredient are mixed “by feeling” until the dough reaches the right consistency.
Pancake with salmon and sour cream
Here is my version of a basic Central European pancake batter as well as some savory toppings, inspired by food I ate in Prague:

Sweet pancake with jam
BASIC PANCAKE BATTER for thin pancakes (for 8-10 pieces)
120 g flour
400 ml milk
3 eggs
Pinch of salt
Oil for the pan

1) Whisk flour and milk, then add eggs and salt.
2) Thinly coat a pan with oil and heat it.
3) Once the pan is very hot, put a portion of batter (a few spoonful) into the pan. Spread the batter over the bottom of the pan by moving the pan in circles so that it thinly covers the entire bottom.
4) When the bottom side of the pancake is golden brown, turn the pancake and bake until the second side is also golden brown.
5) Take the pancake out of the pan and fill it according to your liking. Serve & Enjoy.

Pancake with salmon and sour cream
Pancake batter see above
100 g smoked salmon, in small pieces
1/2 red onion, cut in rings
Capers to your liking
Creme fraiche
Lemon juice
Salt, pepper

1) Mix Creme Fraiche, lemon juice, dill and salt, pepper.
2) Prepare pancake and take out of pan.
3) Spread creme fraiche mix on pancake and top with smoked salmon and onion rings.
4) Serve & enjoy

Pancake with fresh greens, roquefort cheese and pears
Pancake batter see above
1/2 pear
50 g young salad
100 g Roquefort cheese
Some chopped walnuts
Salt, pepper

1) Chop pear and Roquefort cheese in small pieces, wash young salad.
2) Prepare pancake. Shortly before the pancake is ready, spread Roquefort cheese on the pancake and let it melt. Once the pancake is ready (and the cheese is molten), take it out of the pan.
3) Spread young salad, pear and walnuts on the pancake. Add salt and pepper.
4) Serve & enjoy.

Sweet pancake with jam
GRUNDREZEPT PALATSCHINKEN (ca. 8-10 Palatschinken)
120 g Mehl
400 ml Milch
3 Eier
Prise Salz
Öl für die Pfanne

1) Mehl und Milch verquirlen, danach Eier und Salz unterrühren.
2) Eine beschichtete Pfanne mit Öl ausstreichen und diese erhitzen.
3) Sobald die Pfanne sehr heiss ist, eine Portion Teig (einige Esslöffel) in die Pfanne geben. Den Teig durch kreisende Bewegung der Pfanne verteilen bis der gesamte Pfannenboden dünn bedeckt ist.
4) Sobald die Unterseite goldgelb ist, Palatschinke wenden
5) Wenn beide Seiten goldgelb, Palatschinke aus der Pfanne nehmen und nach belieben füllen. Servieren & geniessen.

Pancake with salmon and sour cream
Palatschinken Grundrezept siehe oben
100 g Räucherlachs, in kleinen Stücken
1/2 rote Zwiebel, in Scheiben geschnitten
Kapern nach belieben
Creme Fraiche
Salz, Pfeffer

1) Creme Fraiche, Zitronensaft, Dill und Salz und Pfeffer verrühren.
2) Palatschinke herausbacken und aus der Pfanne nehmen.
3) Palatschinke mit Creme Fraiche Mischung bestreichen und mit Lachs und Zwiebelringen belegen.
4) Servieren & geniessen.

Pancake with fresh greens, roquefort cheese and pears
Palatschinken Grundrezept siehe oben
1/2 Birne
100 g Roquefort Käse
50 g junger Salat oder Spinat
einige Walnusskerne, gehackt
Salz, Pfeffer

1) Birne und Roquefort Käse in kleine Stücke schneiden, Jungsalat waschen.
2) Palatschinke herausbacken. Knapp bevor die Palatschinke fertig ist, den Roquefort Käse auf der Palatschinke verteilen und in der Pfanne schmelzen lassen. Palatschinke aus der Pfanne nehmen
3) Jungsalat, Birne und Walnusskerne auf der Palatschinke verteilen. Salzen und pfeffern.
4) Servieren & geniessen

  1. I was born in Vienna right after WWII to a Viennese maidshen and a GI Joe from Texas. When my brother and I were growing up, palatschinke was a regular breakfast treat that had Mama making second and then usually third batches of batter to satisfy our cries for more more more. When friends stayed overnight it was a no brainer what they would request for breakfast. My mama always bristled at everyone assuming that thin pancakes were originated by the French, insisting that it was one of the many recipes stolen from the Slavic countries, which of course included Austria during the “empire” era it shared with Hungary. Mama forcefully corrected anyone who called them “crepes”!

    Crepes or palatschinken or palacinky…Fpr those who grew up eating them, this delightful repast calls forth an emotional connection to family and heritage not limited by age or nationality. I realized how strong this pull is and how timeless when a Frenchman in his early 20s could not push back tears when I served him my Mama’s typical palatschinken, which for him were just like the crepes he grew up with and had not eaten since his arrival to the states for a year-long stint at a Dallas firm. At first I became concerned and asked, “What’s wrong?” His answer: nothing, I’m just so happy!”