Baghrir (1000 holes crêpes)

I read a post on Instagram of someone asking to share a vivid childhood memory. It got me thinking about my own childhood. How the world feels and looks different when you are a child. The park in your neighborhood feels like a never-ending forest, playgrounds are immense and every day is a new adventure. I sometimes miss that in my adult life. That feeling that you view the whole world through eyes of excitement and wonder. The way a child takes the time to see amazing things in life that you don’t notice anymore as an adult. Like the excitement you felt when you found a sow bug and other crawling creatures when you lifted up a rock for the first time 😉 .

Thinking about my childhood I remembered a playground in Alkmaar (The Netherlands) where we used to go with my niece and nephews when we visited them. This playground had a few arches made out of concrete and we played tag or catch with a ball while climbing on the arches. I used to come home with my legs and arms full of abrasions from climbing these arches, but I didn’t care. They looked something like this, only with graffiti sprayed all over them:

playground concrete arches

The arches were immense in my memories, they may well have been as high as the Mount Everest. Sometimes I even needed help to climb on top of them. We had so much fun playing there that every time we visited them we went to that same playground. We never got bored playing there even if (or maybe because) it forced us to be imaginative because the arches were all that was there. There was no swing or sandbox or anything else in that playground. We made up all kinds of games to play on the arches and stayed there until the sun went down.

Fast forward 25 years and I went back to that same playground when I was visiting my sister who lives in Alkmaar and found the arches were still there. Only: they were really small! I could easily look over them as they were shoulder height. I couldn’t believe my eyes. In my memory they were at least 3 meters high. Something tells me I will always remember this playground. I will always have memories of that magical playground where I climbed arches as high as the Mount Everest. Being back on that playground filled me with so much nostalgia that I found myself sitting there for over half an hour just reminiscing. All of a sudden I was 10 years old again and I saw my sisters, my niece and my nephews running around on the playground, screaming and laughing at each other. I just sat there with a smile on my face…………

You will probably want to know what above story has to do with food and more specifically this recipe? Well, nothing to be honest. It was just something I wanted to share with you. I promise next blog post will be about food again and there is always the ‘jump to recipe’ button if you’re only here for the recipe 🙂 .

Ok, let’s talk food then………..You know what also brings back vivid memories from the past? The smell, taste, and sight of particular food. I already told you about my memories of msemmen. A similar breakfast treat from my childhood is Baghrir, also called 1000 holes pancakes. Baghrir is actually a Tamazight word (Berber language) that means “too soft”. The texture is so soft and luscious that you will understand why they are called that way when you eat them. My mum used to make this on the weekends for us and there is nothing like it. Please try the recipe and be amazed, like a child eating something new and exotic that sounds like something from a fairy tale of 1001 nights. I would love to hear what your most vivid childhood memory is. You can leave me a comment below if you want to share it.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you try it, please let me know! Leave a comment, telling me what you think of it. You can also tag your photo on Instagram with @culyzaar or post it on my Facebook page so I can see it. I love seeing your takes on the recipes on my blog!

5 from 5 votes
Baghrir (1000 holes crêpes)
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
2 hrs
 
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Moroccan, North African
Servings: 12 pancakes
Ingredients
  • 300 grams of fine semolina
  • 100 grams of flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tbs vanilla sugar
  • 2 tbs baking powder
  • 1 tbs active dry yeast
  • 550 ml lukewarm water
  • 50 ml lukewarm water (extra)
Instructions
  1. Sieve the semolina and flour into a large bowl. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix well. Add half of the water and mix until it’s incorporated. Pour this mixture into a blender and mix it for 5 minutes at the highest setting until there are no lumps and the batter is smooth. The long blending time allows the semolina to become finely ground so it thickens the batter. Add the remainder of the water and mix it for another minute in the blender. If you don’t have a blender place all the ingredients in a large bowl and use an immersion blender instead. Pour the batter back into your bowl and cover it with cling film. 

  2. Let the batter rise in a warm place for 60-90 minutes. The batter is ready when you see bubbles on the surface. Take off the cling film and add 50ml of water and mix/fold this in very carefully making sure not to pop all the bubbles. 

  3. Heat the oven to 160°C and line a baking sheet with a kitchen towel. Heat an non-stick skillet over medium heat. Wait for the pan to be very hot to start baking the baghrir, otherwise you won’t get many holes on your pancakes. As soon as your skillet is ready pour the batter into it. The honeycomb holes will start forming immediately. Cook the baghrir, undisturbed, until holes set on the surface and there are no more wet spots visible. This will take about 3 to 4 minutes. Be sure to keep the heat low enough so the bottom just barely turns colour (you want it to stay as light as possible). 

  4. When fully cooked you transfer the baghrir onto the baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you cook the rest of the batter. Don’t pile up your baghrir while they are still hot, as they will stick together. 

  5. When ready to serve, arrange the baghrir on a serving platter and serve hot, drizzled with a mixture of melted butter and warmed honey. Some people choose to top it with olive oil, orange blossom water, sugar, jam, or amlou paste (toasted almonds, argan oil and honey). I however still prefer the traditional butter and honey mixture which my mum always used.

Belgian Waffles

Do you also have a waffle iron languishing in the back of your cabinet? Let me guess, you don’t use it because you think it’s a big hassle to bake waffles? It actually isn’t. It’s very easy, especially if you have an electric waffle iron and not like the one I have which bakes the waffles on the stove. With just a few ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry and a waffle iron, you’ll be able to make this waffle recipe in no time.

I think there’s something totally comforting about homemade waffles. They are delicious, warm, airy, delicate and crisp edged at the same time. But the best part is that they are simple to throw together. I’m sure they’re destined to become part of your weekend breakfast routine once you tried them. The best part is that if you make enough you can freeze the leftovers (that is if you have any). That means you can enjoy them again and again and again during the week. Put them in Ziploc bags and you are good to go. Take them out of the freezer the night before so they can thaw slowly and pop them into your toaster the next morning. Before you know it waffles will become your favourite breakfast to wake up to in the morning.

Fluffy Belgian Waffles

These soft waffles have baking powder instead of yeast for the leavening agent. That being said, just like any pancake batter don’t overmix it (very important).

More crucial steps to a good waffle are:

  • Don’t skip the cornstarch as that’s the ingredient that helps to create the crispy edges.
  • Separate your eggs and whip the egg whites to a stiff peak and fold them into the batter to ensure light and airy waffles.
  • Once the batter is whisked together you let it rest for about 30 minutes to allow the leavening agents to work their magic.

These homemade waffles are great with just some butter and any syrup or honey you fancy, but you can make them extra special with any kind of topping: blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, fried apples, powdered sugar or whipped topping. I would love to hear what’s your favourite topping is. You can leave me a comment below.

So, lets skip the pancakes this weekend and make waffles instead. Because if you like pancakes, you will love waffles. Did you know a waffle is just a more considerate pancake. It’s like ‘here, let me hold that syrup for you in these convenient boxes’. Waffles are basically pancakes with dimples.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you try it, please let me know! Leave a comment, telling me what you think of it. You can also tag your photo on Instagram with @culyzaar or post it on my Facebook page so I can see it. I love seeing your takes on the recipes on my blog!

Belgian Waffels
Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 360 ml of milk
  • 1 tsp good vanilla extract
  • 100 gr melted butter
  • 260 gr of all-purpose flour
  • 16 gr of baking powder
  • 40 gr sugar
  • a Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbs of cornstarch
Instructions
  1. Separate the egg yolks and whites and put them into two separate medium bowls. Beat the egg yolks slightly and then add milk, vanilla extract and melted butter and whisk to combine.
  2. Place flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cornstarch in a large bowl and mix to combine.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the egg yolk mixture. Whisk until thoroughly combined and smooth. Don’t overmix. When the batter is completely ready and combined, whisk the egg whites into soft peaks with an electric mixer (or by hand if necessary), then fold it gently into the batter. Let your batter rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat your waffle iron and grease lightly with some vegetable oil. You only grease the waffle iron the first time, after that it shouldn’t be necessary anymore. Bake the waffles according to your iron manufacturer’s instructions, or until brown and crisp. To determine how much batter to use do a few trials and be careful. It’s easier to add a little in the next try then to have to stop and clean your iron because you poured in to much. I learned (the hard way, see picture below) that mine takes about half a soup ladle of batter and cooks in about 5-6 minutes.

  5. It’s also very important not to open the waffle iron for at least three minutes because you won’t like what happens in that case, trust me (again, see picture below).

  6. When the waffle is done you carefully remove it from the waffle iron and serve it immediately. If you want to bake them all before serving you can keep them warm in a preheated 95C oven set with a wire rack.

What not to do when baking waffles………….

  • Putting to much batter in the waffle iron
  • Opening the waffle iron to soon.

 

     

 

Moroccan Msemmen

Nothing like certain food to unblock the floodgates of memory. Most of us have a memory of a food that takes us back to our childhood. For me, one of those foods is msemmen which we had for breakfast when I was growing up, especially during cold and snowy winters. My mother would make these delicious treats at the weekend for us. Even though they are just a simple kind of square pancake for me it’s one of the best Moroccan breakfast dishes ever and of course it is because essentially it’s fried dough. Who doesn’t like fried dough, right? But the fact that it’s simple doesn’t matter. Somehow memories involving food are very vivid and feel more powerful than other memories. Why is that? I guess food memories aren’t just based on the food I ate, but are shaped by the atmosphere in which I ate it, the company I was with and the situation and the emotions involved.

Msemmen are the best fresh and hot from the griddle with honey and a cup of aromatic mint tea or coffee. The most traditional way, however, is to dip msemmen in hot syrup made from butter and honey. It will get a bit messy at the breakfast table because the msemmen will be sticky, sweet and delicious. On other occasions, my mum would stuff them with vegetables or meat fillings and serve them at dinner time with a nice bowl of harira which is a Moroccan soup. But that’s a story for another time.

What I love most about msemmen is that they are crispy, flaky, and fluffy all at the same time. This is due to the laminating of the dough. Laminated dough refers to the process of folding butter into dough multiple times to create very thin alternating layers of butter and dough. This process results in a pastry with multiple flaky, airy layers when it’s baked. They are made by flattening the dough on an oiled surface until paper thin, dotting it with butter and semolina, then folding it into thirds (twice) to shape a layered pancake. The key being that while folding, one must sprinkle semolina on the layers to prevent the layers from sticking to each other and to allow for the heat to then separate the layers when cooked on a griddle.

You’ll need enough workspace to shape the dough into squares. A granite countertop or otherwise a plastic or metal tray will all do. Msemmen store beautifully in the freezer and are easy to reheat when you crave a quick and delicious breakfast.

Please don’t be alarmed by the quantity of oil and butter used in the process of shaping the msemmen. All that oil won’t be absorbed into the dough. Done properly, msemmen shouldn’t feel greasy or be any more indulgent than other treats such as croissants or donuts. Try not to be like msemmen and get all flipped out about the calories, be like syrup and go with the flow. If you eat everything in moderation you will never have to feel guilty.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you try it, please let me know! Leave a comment, telling me what you think of it. You can also tag your photo on Instagram with @culyzaar or post it on my Facebook page so I can see it. I love seeing your takes on the recipes on my blog!

Moroccan Msemmen
Servings: 8 Msemmen Breads
Ingredients
Dough
  • 400 g all-purpose flour
  • 100 g fine semolina
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 300-325 ml lukewarm water
For folding and cooking the msemmen:
  • 50 g vegetable oil
  • 50 g very soft unsalted butter
  • 30 g fine semolina
Instructions
  1. Make the dough by mixing all of the dry ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer.

  2. Start by adding 300ml of lukewarm water and mix to form a dough. Add more water if necessary to make a dough that is soft and easy to knead, but not sticky. If the dough is too sticky to handle, add a little flour 1 tablespoon at a time*.

  3. Divide the dough into balls the size of golf balls. Pre-shape the balls making sure the surface of the balls is smooth. Transfer them onto an oiled tray, cover loosely with plastic and leave to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

  4. In the meanwhile put the butter, the vegetable oil and the semolina in three separate bowls ready to use when your dough is rested enough to proceed.

  5. In order to shape the dough you generously oil your work surface and your hands.Take one ball and dip it in the oil and place it on your work space. Gently spread the dough into a paper-thin circle. Try to be careful not to tear the dough so oil your hands as often as needed so that they slide easily over the dough.

  6. Dot the flattened dough with butter and sprinkle with semolina. Fold the dough into thirds like a letter to form an elongated rectangle. Dot again with butter, sprinkle with semolina, and fold again into thirds to form a square. Once the msemmen is folded, another is spread that one is used to envelope a prior folded msemmen so as to create multiple internal layers of dough. Leave to rest a short while before flattening and cooking. Transfer the folded dough to the oiled tray and repeat with the remaining balls of dough. Keep track of the order in which you folded the squares.

  7. Heat your griddle or frying pan over medium heat until quite hot. Starting with the first msemmen you folded, take a square of dough and place on your oiled work surface. Oil your hands and pat the dough firmly to flatten it to double its original size.

  8. Transfer the flattened square to the hot griddle and cook, turning several times, until cooked through, crispy on the exterior and golden in color. Transfer to a rack.

  9. Repeat with the remaining squares, working with them in the order in which they were folded. Serve the msemmen immediately, or allow to cool completely before freezing**.

  10. * The amount of water needed depends on the quality of absorption of the flour you are using.

    **Msemmen can be reheated directly from the freezer in a frying pan placed over medium-low heat.