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Greek Pancakes (Tiganites)

An interesting variation on your classic morning treat.
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While we all have had our fair share of thick fluffy, buttermilk-laced maple syrup-soaked pancakes, there’s always a different version waiting to be tried. These Greek Pancakes are a good case and point. Called tiganites, these thin pancakes partner with honey and sesame seeds for an alternative to your classic breakfast treat.

Many cultures have pancakes, but the Greeks seem to have some of the earliest documentation of pancakes within the Western world. The first records of pancakes were written by a Greek physician Galen, in his book De alimentorum facultatibus (On the Properties of Foodstuffs). Based on the Hippocratic theory of four humors, which would shape Arabic and European dietetics 1500 years after his death. Recipes were written with the motive of balancing the humors of the body. Teganitai (an early word for tiganites) were considered crude and unsettled the body. Flour-based foods were thought to be not good for human digestion, and they had to be “mixed up” in order to be made into a digestible matter. Tiganites were made digestible by pairing them with sesame seeds, nuts, and honey. 

While these Greek Pancakes are similar to the ancient versions, the addition of yeast adds much-needed leavening and a bit of developed fermented flavor to the otherwise plain batter of flour and water. Sugar is added into this more modern version for the same reason — the yeast, flour, and water are just a bit too plain and needs a bit of something. 

After you whisk the water and yeast together and see that the yeast is dissolved, add in the flour, sugar, and salt. 

Wrap the bowl in plastic wrap and let the yeast do its magic. Unlike other yeasted batters or doughs, this rest time is quite short and only needs about 15 to 20 minutes of resting.

Prep your frying pan with olive oil. Now with this recipe, there’s no ifs, ands, or buts — olive oil is a must! Since the batter is so plain, the olive oil is going to impart tons of flavor into the pancakes, meaning you don’t want to use any old frying oil. Once you pour the batter into the pan, the batter will soak up the olive oil and create a nice golden exterior. When the edges of the pancakes start to look golden and the center of the pancakes have bubbles, you can flip the pancakes.

Repeat this process with the remaining batter, adding more olive oil as you need.

While the tiganites are still warm, stack them high on a plate, sprinkle on toasted sesame seed and roasted walnuts, drizzle on warm honey, and you’re ready to dive in! These Greek Pancakes are far from their modern American cousin. They’re less dense and way less sweet, making them a great breakfast-lunch crossover brunch item.

The savory nuttiness of the sesame seeds and the sweetness of the honey make the Greek Pancakes more nuanced and well-rounded in flavor and texture. Greek Pancakes are a divergent griddlecake from the past that needs a well-deserved resurgence.

Yield(s): Makes 15 to 16 pancakes

20m prep time

15m cook time

20m inactive

Allergens: Sesame, Wheat, Gluten

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  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon instant dry active yeast
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons olive oil
For the garnish:
  • 1/4 cup warm honey
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons sesame, toasted
  1. In a large bowl combine water and yeast, stirring to dissolve.
  2. Once dissolved, add flour, sugar, and salt stirring to combine.
  3. Wrap bowl in plastic wrap and let batter rest until bubbles start to appear, about 15 minutes.
  4. In a skillet, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil and then pour in 2 tablespoons of batter.
  5. Fry pancakes in batches, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. The first side should take 3 to 4 minutes and the second side should take 2 to 3 minutes. The pancakes will be crispy and golden on the edges.
  6. Once cooked, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb some of the oil. Repeat this frying process with the remaining batter.
  7. Serve warm with warmed honey and toasted sesame seeds and walnuts.

Recipe adapted from My Greek Dish.