Baghrir….Algeria’s Favorite pancakes

Baghrir is an North African   honeycomb-like pancake, very much appreciated  in Algeria and Morocco.

 Both Algerians ans Moroccans like to serve these pancakes as an afternoon treat alongside  butter and honey, sugar, olive oil…..etc…..but what I find interesting is that baghrir is a part and parcel of a typical Moroccan iftar  table  ( Ramadan fast- breaking  )  while in Algeria it’s prepared all year round except during the holy month, during which othoman influenced dishes and pastries such as  , ktayefs ( called kunafa in middle-east ) , halwat turk ( turkish halva), halwat halkoum ( turkish /delights  )  are preffered….
Both countries have  numerous  dishes in common especially those of amazigh and andalusian origin but because Morocco  didn’t fall into the othoman rule like its North African neighoubours, Ramadan tables of Algeria have more similarities with their Tunisian neighbours  due to their common turkish  heritage than of Morocco.

Isn’t interesting how political decisions  throughout  history influence our palate  ?

After getting married overseas and living in a multiracial university society , I discovered that people of the horn of Africa ( Ethupia, Somalia, Eriteria….and by extention their neighbouring arab country of yemen ) have a similar, baghrir like pancake, called enjeera in Ethipian, canjeero in Somali  or lahouh in Yemeni.
their pancake which is much more lighter and bigger  than our baghrir  plays a role of bread and is prepared daily to accompagny different dishes .

 When eating, several « injera » are layered  and topped with small portions of differents stews.  the pancakes  are then torn into  pieces and dipped  into the stews.

lahouh the yemeni version is prepared during ramadan to make a very refreshing appetizer called shafout…..

to know more about these pancake, please, click  HERE  and HERE

Due to the vast surface of the country. baghrir like many other dishes doesn’t have a single unique name in Algeria . In the Eastern part of the country it’s called ghrayef, in Constantine  » korsa », in Kabylia  » tighrifin » and in Algiers and the rest of the country….it’s simply Baghrir…..

Even when I was a teethless little girl with with two plaits , I have always loveeeeeeeed baghrir  . in those days , the whole processes would take hours between kneading, fermenting the dough and cooking the pancakes…I remember my grand mother ordering us , the children, to go out of the kitchen because laghreyef « dont  like eyes  » !!!!! the cook has to be on her own in the kitchen, the more you have people around  watching  you cook the baghrir, the less holes you would get….knowing that the success of the pancake is juged according to the number and the size of the holes you get.
this was an easy , ready made pretexte in case one fails to make a delicious , thousands hole-like baghrir , just blame people around  not the cook! lol

The traditional method of making baghrir is very time consuming. a matlou like dough is prepared then let to rest like any ordinary bread, then  punched down, kneaded thouroughly by adding warm water intil a creamy  pancake- like texture is obtained. the dough is then let to rest intil bubbles appears on the surface . only then we can start cooking the pancake on a special clay tajine called tajine m’sarah

Nowedays, all these steps are summed up thanks to technology…you only need a good recipe , and a  blender !

 so how to make a thousand-holes pancakes like this :
our grandmother nevers weighed the ingredients , they just worked by feel, mixing   semolina, yeast and water and had the most perfect baghrir ever.
After years of trial and errors, i came up with my personal tips that can be summed up as follows:
warning: you might find opposite pieces of advice on the net, recipes that call for few amount of yeast, a cold frying pan…etc….. every one has his own tips and secrets. the following are the results of my experience that work best for me :

  1.   -In order to get a perfect baghrir, the amount of yeast should be considerable , eg, a simple bread recipe requires 1 tablespoon of yeast for every 500g of flour. the baghrir requires 2 tables spoon for every 500g of semolina.
  2.  -The amount of water determines the succees of baghrir, the batter should creamy , almost liquid. if it is heavy, you’ll end up with  few  holes, in that case you should add more warm water and wait for at least  10 mn before start cooking.
  3. your pan should be well heated before pouring the batter. after cooking several pancakes, your pan will be  very hot. you should think of reducing the heat as soon as the honeycombes start forming if not you’ll overbrown the underneeth.

 Here’s my favourite baghrir recipe :
500g semolina ( or 300gr semolina & 200gr flour for a lighter result )
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbs of yeast (20gr)
1 tsp of baking powder
water, or mixture of water and milk for a softer pancake (  I prefer not to give an indication for the amount needed as my semolina absorbs liquids very fast. The batter should be creamy, almost liquid).

PROCEDURE:pour the dry ingredients in the kitchen -aid or a blender. if using a small blender , put half of the semolina first, then water then finish with the rest of semolina. mix for frew minutes until you get a smooth , lumpless batter. cover and leave to ferment  for one hour or so  until it doubles in size and lots of bubbles appear on the surface. 

stir  the batter thouroughly . greese a non-stick  pan  with a papertowel deeped in oil. heat it  up  over medium heat. use a medium sized laddle to scoop the batter. the quantity scooped depends eventually  on the size of your pan.

as soon as your pour the batter into the pan  the honeycomb holes will immediately  start  forming, cook the pancake intil the pancake dries up.

 remove from the pan and set on a big plate or a clean towel. don’t flip to cook the other side nor  pile them when  still hot  , otherwise they will stick to one another .

Topping :

coat them with a mixture of melted butter and honey, or butter and sugar, olive oil ….etc……..

Je ne prentends pas detenir la meilleure recette de baghrir …mais  voudrais , par ce present post, partager  avec vous les astuces que j’ai tire’ de mes propes echecs . d’autre bloggeuses vous donneront des astuces differentes , voire  opposees des miennes : moins de levure, poele froide…..etc….
ce qui suit,  est le resultat de mes observations, succes et echecs a travers les annees car j’ai toujours adore’ les baghrir  et aimais le preparer  , il m’arrivait de rater  une recette qui m’a donne’  entierement satisfaction das le passe’. a l’epoque je m’ettais ca sur le dos de la semoule alors que c’etait probablement du a la quantite’ de l’eau que j’ai diminue’ sans en etre consciente.
ce n’est pas l’ajout de l’oeuf, la quantite’ de la semoule, le melange de semoule, farine qui determinent le succes d’un baghrir .
l’oeuf rend la pate plus riche, et la farine plus legere, mais le nombre des trous tant convoite’ est determine’ selon d’apres mon humble experience :
1-La quantite’ de la levure:   :
pour un pain ordinaire de 500g de farine, on met generalement, l’equivalent d’1 cas de levure . le baghrir necessite le double.
pour 500g de semoule, je mets 2cas de levure de boulanger.

La quantite’ de l’eau :
je ne vais pas donner une quantite’ precise pour l’eau  car ca dependera de la qualite’ de la semoule. y’en a qui absorbe l’eau tres vite et necessite moins de liquide que d’autres . l’essentiel est que le melange a crepe doit etre  cremeux, semi liquide . s’il est lourd , vous obtiendrez peu de trous. dans ce cas rajouter  de l »eau tiede et laisser  reposer quelques minutes suplementaires  avant de reprendre  la cuisson.
bien pre-chauffer la poele. quand vous etes au point d’epuiser la pate, pensez a reduire le feu  des la formation des bules, car apres avoir cuit plusieures crepes , la poele devient tres chaude et cremara le dessous des dernieres crepes.
voici donc une recette type avec le respect des points ci-dessus:

500g de semoule (ou bien 300g de semoule et 200gr de farine si vous preferez une crepe plus legere )
1/2 cac de sel
2 cas de levure de boulanger (ou l’equivalent de 20gr)
1 cas de sucre
1 paquet de levure chimique
assez d’eau [b]tiede [/b] pour avoir un melange onctueux , voire semi-liquide . vous pouvez melanger eau et lait . la crepe ne sera que meilleure.

dans un blender , ou bien  un kitchen-aide, mettre les matieres seches d’abord puis ajouter l’eau jusqu’a l’obtention de la consistance desiree’. si vous possedez un petit blender, mettez la moitie’ de la semoule d’abord, l’eau , mixez puis ajouter le restant de semoule.

laisser reposer une heure, voire plus selon la saison. le melange doit doubler de volume et former des bules en dessus.
remuer  le melange pour faire le homogeniser et faire disparaitre les bules. tromper une serviette en papier dans de l’huile et passer  la poele que vous avez pris soin de prechauffer . prendre une louche du melage et verser sur la poele. vous devez voir des bules qui se forment immediatement. laisser cuire jusqu’au dessechement de la crepe. a l’aide d’une spatule , enlever la crepe et la mettre dans une grande assiette.  Ne pas superposer les crepes quand elles sont encore chaudes ne pas oublier de passer la serviette huilee’ de temps en temps sur la poele . presenter les  baghrir avec un melange de beure fondu et de miel, ou bien , beurre et sucre, huile d’olive ou tout autre garniture  de votre choix.