This recipe for cizleme (pronounced jiz-le-may) comes courtesy of my friend Cagla. She says, “These pancakes are particular to Thrace in the northwestern region of Turkey, where my family's from and where the Balkans connect to Europe. They are different from Western pancake because of the addition of dry yeast, which makes a lot of difference in taste. The batter is thicker, and when they’re cooked, the end result is softer, bubblier and delightfully spongy. It's usually served with what we call white cheese (and the Greeks call feta), or with jams and marmalades. My personal favorite is a paste made from feta and crushed walnuts. And of course butter, liberal amounts of slightly browned butter.” —Cristina Sciarra
Test Kitchen Notes
These pancakes, made from a few simple pantry staples were a revelation. They had a wonderful texture, soft and spongy, and the flavor got more complex the longer I let the batter sit in the fridge. They were so good that I ate them for three meals in a row. First, I made them for dinner and couldn't resist serving them with maple syrup because if butter and syrup are good, browned butter and syrup are even better, right? Right. I refrigerated the batter and made more the next morning. Still great. That night, after a long day at work, I cooked up the last of them. I decided to try them as recommended. I used a creamy, spreadable Macedonian feta, toasted walnuts, and I sprinkled it all with fresh thyme and Turkish sumac. The texture of the pancake really suited the savory topping more than a fluffy, cake-like pancake ever could. One thing to watch is the pan temperature. My batter was very thick and they needed to be cooked on medium-low on my stove to ensure they were cooked all the way through before burning. For some, I spread the batter more thinly and cooked on medium. Either way, they are highly recommended. —MaryMaryCulinary
about 20 pancakes
600 grams of flour
15 grams of salt
1 tablespoon dry yeast
1 teaspoon of sugar
700 grams of warm water
Butter, at least 200 grams, for cooking, and to brush the pancakes with after they’ve cooked
Sift the flour, and add it to a large bowl, along with the salt.
In a glass, mix the dry yeast and the sugar with a little warm water. Sprinkle in a tablespoon or so of the flour, and then let it six for about 10 minutes. (You want the yeast to activate.)
After 10 minutes, add the yeast water to the flour, and mix it until it forms a kind of paste. Let it sit, covered in a warm spot, for about an hour.
Meanwhile, brown the butter in a pan.
After an hour, brush some of the browned butter onto a non-stick pan, and heat over medium. When the pan is hot, add a measure of the pancake batter. It will take longer to cook than a Western pancake; you want to wait for bubbles to appear.
When the bubbles burst, flip the pancakes to the other side, and cook them for a few more minutes. The first one always comes out less than desirable, but don't give up. Butter each one on both sides as it comes out of the pan.
Stack the buttered cizlemes on top of each other, to keep them warm and buttery all over. Serve with your desired topping—the tang of feta works wonders.
Cristina is a writer, cook, and day job real estate developer. She studied literature, holds an MFA in Fiction Writing, and completed the Basic Cuisine course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She lives in Jersey City with her husband--a Frenchman she met in Spain--and their sweet black cat, Minou. Follow her writings, recipes, publications and photography at theroamingkitchen.com.