How to make perfect pannekoek

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Perfect pannekoek – perfect pancakes. Photo courtesy of La Motte from their Cape Winelands cookbook.

South African food memories are laced with the heady combination of fried batter, cinnamon and sugar. We call that pannekoek, and the English call it pancake. But they are not one and the same thing. Pancake is what Rooinek people make on Shrove Tuesday; pannekoek is what we Amabhulu made for church fetes, bazaars and agricultural shows, largely to raise funds. It is food for the masses, but also the very best food for a small child in need of comfort and love. My mother made pannekoek for us when it rained in the Free State, a very rare occasion, so to me pannekoek is celebration food.

Here is the best pannekoek recipe in the world. Don’t buy ready mixes and don’t LISTEN TO ANYONE ELSE because this is truly the best pannekoek recipe in the world Universe:


There is simply no better pancake recipe than this. We share it with you by kind permission from Dine van Zyl, writer and author of several cookbooks on traditional South African cooking, or Boerekos.

Makes 12-18


1 cup (125g) white cake flour

1t (5ml) baking powder

½ t (2.5ml) salt

2 large eggs

2 cups (500ml) milk

1T (15ml) melted butter

Sunflower oil for cooking


  1. Place flour, baking powder, salt, eggs and milk in a food processor or blender and beat for 8 minutes at high speed.
  2. Let the batter stand for no less than 30 minutes and up to one day in the fridge.
  3. Just before cooking, whisk in the melted butter. (I usually skip this step and the recipe works just fine.)
  4. Pour just enough oil into a medium non-stick frying pan or crepe pan to coat the bottom. Heat over medium heat until oil starts to move and pour oil out into a heat-proof bowl.
  5. Using a 1/4 cup (60ml) measure, pour batter into pan, swirling pan around to coat entire bottom of pan. Cook until small holes appear in the top surface. Loosen edges with a spatula and immediately flick over to cook for about 35 seconds on the other side.
  6. Slide out onto a warmed plate and continue until all batter is used. Remember to re-oil the pan every 4th pancake or so, wiping away excess oil with absorbent kitchen paper.

COOKS’TIP: For some reason, the first pancake is usually a flop, which makes the household pets very happy! You’ll attain best results by reserving a pan solely for the purpose of making pancakes, since the tiniest scratch on the surface will make the pancakes stick. Practise makes perfect.

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Celebrating life with food, wine, friends & happiness! Writer, cook and blogger. Author of four cookbooks. Passionately South African, proudly Capetonian.