Yeast Pancakes (Racuchy)
Updated: Jan 31
Soft and fluffy inside, with crisp skin on the outside. Our favourite type of puffy pancake.
These traditional Polish yeast pancakes are prepared with flour, eggs, milk and a bit of sugar and salt. Soft and airy texture is achieved thanks to the addition of yeast. Pancakes are fried on a small amount of oil.
This is a good alternative if you are up for puffy and large pancakes with airy texture and have no time to prepare elaborate and time consuming donuts. This recipe is just that - a mix between pancake and a donut. The recipe has been in our family for generations and we tried to capture all the hints for a good bake (sorry - fry!) here. If you follow hints you will cut rest phase in half, with no compromise on texture. Pancakes are then served sprinkled with confectioners' sugar or sugar/cinnamon topping.
Few hints before you start preparing your pancakes:
- Yeast - if you can get it, use fresh bulk dried yeast - this is one of the few recipes where fresh bulk dried yeast works better. Active dry yeast in granules will work too but you will get softer texture using fresh bulk yeast.
- Temperature - keep the temperatures as in the recipe - 38C for yeast proofing and then 28-30C (so quite high) for bulk fermentation. Use top of your stove or warm (but not hot) oven as this dough loves higher than usual temperature.
- Degas the dough - remember to degas the dough 15 minutes into the rest time and then just before frying - you can use our ‘reel in a fish’ move using tablespoon - described in the recipe below.
- Texture - the dough will be sticky - not your regular pancake batter or donut dough (something in-between). Knead energetically by hand, or knead using Tablespoon (that’s how my mum and granny used to do it for this specific recipe - we recommend using this technique), or use stand mixer with dough hook attachment. Kneading here should be energetic and short (4 minutes). Don’t overwork the dough and don't add more flour than suggested.
- Frying - fry on 1cm oil only, top up oil half way through the batch and remember to check if the pancake is ready using skewer or chopstick. You may opt to skip that check and monitor the change of colour only (golden or light brown, and bright but set parameter - same as in donuts) but checking if fully done with skewer will cover any surprises.
Yeast Pancakes Recipe
Yield: 12-15 pancakes
Time: 15min prep + 30-60min rest + frying time
Equipment: frying pan
For yeast proofing:
- 125 ml full-fat milk (warm, 38C)
- 1 Tablespoon (15g) sugar
- 1 Tablespoon (10g) all-purpose flour
- 1 pack active dry yeast (7g) or 25g active bulk dry yeast
For the dough:
- 450g all-purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 250ml full-fat milk (warm, 38C)
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 egg yolk from large egg, room temperature
- 30g confectioners’ sugar
- OR 100g caster sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons cinnamon or 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- sunflower or rapeseed oil or any other neutral scented oil
1. Proof the yeast: In a small pot warm up milk (38C). To warm milk add sugar and stir until sugar is fully dissolved, then add flour and yeast - stir until combined. Cover with dry kitchen towel and leave in warm place for 10 minutes. After that time you should see the mixture foaming/bubbling up. If you don’t, repeat the step.
2. Prepare the dough: In a medium bowl mix flour with salt, add yeast mixture (from Step 1), 1 large egg and 1 egg yolk, 1 cup of warm milk and mix until fairly loose and sticky dough is created. You can mix using stand mixer with dough hook attachment (approx. 4 minutes on medium speed), knead energetically using tablespoon (you are beating the dough rather than mixing it like a cake - rotate the spoon clockwise, vertically - as if you were reeling in the fish), or energetically pat by hand (you may opt to apply some water on your hand every so often). After 4 minutes the dough should be well mixed (no flour pockets), sticky and thick (very thick sour cream consistency). Cover tightly with cling film or dry kitchen towel and move to warm place (28-30C). We recommend placing the bowl on the stove or warm oven for quick rise. After 15 minutes, using spoon, degas the dough (beat the batter few times using same vertical move - ‘reel in a fish’ described above). Cover again tightly, move to warm place and allow for 15-20 minutes rest. The dough should almost double in size - at least 1.5 the initial volume. If it doesn't - go with the dough volume rather than time.
3. Fry: Pour 1-2 cm of oil on the frying pan and wait until sizzling hot. When ready, degas the batter one last time using Tablespoon (again using ‘reel in the fish’ move). Prepare glass of clear water (the dough is sticky so in-between portions dip the spoon in water). Place 1 large Tablespoon of batter per pancake (max 3 pancakes on a large frying pan). Fry until golden in colour (2-3 minutes on medium heat) then flip to the other side and fry again until golden in colour on both sides and baked through. Use skewer or chopstick if unsure. You know the pancake is ready when it’s golden to light brown in colour, the parameter is bright but firm (same as for donuts) and the skewer comes out clean (no streaks of uncooked dough). Toss your pancake in sugar/cinnamon topping or sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.
1. Before preparing these pancakes you may find it useful to read this post on Baking with Yeast.
2. You can opt to degas the dough 2-3 times (every 20 minutes, leaving the last half an hour untouched). However, what we have found over the years is that the temperature, fresh yeast and degasing (at least twice) are more important factors than the extended rest phase, i.e. if you use fresh yeast, keep the dough warm and degas using our technique you will get same/or better texture to that achieved with rest phase of 1.5 hour.
Jazz it up:
1. One of very few recipes where we recommend going with plain, airy texture - sooo good! There is no need to be messing around with it. The only extravagance we are allowing ourselves here is a spiced version where we are adding cardamom (and only 1/4 teaspoon freshly milled or 1/2 teaspoon pre-packed, ground).
2. Play around with toppings:
- citrusy butter icing - 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar warmed up in a small pot with 1 Tablespoon (15g) butter, 1 Tablespoon (15ml) juice (from your preferred citrusy fruit) - cook on medium heat until melted and combined. Take off the heat and optionally add 1 Tablespoon rum or bourbon,
- maple syrup and fresh fruit,
- crème fraîche and fresh fruit.