Growing up, I’d eagerly await the days when my mom would give in to my pleas and buy the hotteok mix from the local Korean supermarket. I’d get the batter all over me and my mom would jansoli ("nag"). But then the crispy, chewy pancakes, filled to the brim with a syrupy mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon, would halt all the commotion. Taking that first bite together, with batter all over my arms, will forever be one of my favorite memories. Although classic hotteok have brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts, you can use whatever you have at home. Swap out the nuts for pumpkin seeds, or use another gooey mixture altogether, like apple pie filling or strawberry jam. And if you want a savory treat, try filling it with mozzarella cheese and corn. This year, I collaborated with a local Asian-American bakery, Kitsby, to create a baking kit for a twist on the hotteok: the hotteok cookie. A bite into the soft brown sugar cookie reveals a cinnamon-hazelnut center, encapsulating the flavors of a classic hotteok. After you try these pancakes, head here to grab a kit of your own. —Janice Koo
- Prep time 1 hour 30 minutes
- Cook time 50 minutes
- makes 12 pancakes
- Pancake Dough
(114 grams) lukewarm water
(114 grams) lukewarm milk (any type of milk or vegan alternatives will work)
1 1/2 cups
(180 grams) all-purpose flour
(80 grams) sweet rice flour
neutral oil (such as vegetable or canola), plus more for shaping
Neutral oil, for pan-frying
- Brown Sugar Filling
(107 grams) packed brown sugar (either light or dark sugar will work)
(28 grams) chopped raw nuts (peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, etc.)
- Add the water, milk, sugar, and yeast into a large bowl. Whisk till combined. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, till the yeast is activated and bubbles form at the top of the mixture. (If no bubbles have formed after 10 minutes, your yeast is probably inactive, and you might need a new jar.)
- Add the all-purpose flour, sweet rice flour, 1 tablespoon oil, and salt. Mix well till a sticky dough is formed and the flours are incorporated.
- Cover the bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let sit until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, punch the dough with your hands a couple times to release the gas. Cover with the towel or wrap again and let rest for another 15 minutes.
- While the dough is resting, add the ingredients for the brown sugar filling to a small bowl and stir to combine.
- Once the dough is ready, put some oil on your hands to prevent the dough from sticking. Separate the dough into 12 portions.
- To a large nonstick pan, add enough oil to thinly coat the bottom and set over medium heat. Grease a spatula with oil (this will come in handy soon).
- As the pan is heating up, place one of the pieces of dough in your hand and form a ball. Flatten the dough into a disk about 5 inches in diameter, creating a shallow well in the middle by cupping the palm of your hand. Place one heaping tablespoon of the filling inside the well and lightly press down with a spoon. Gather the edges together, making sure not to let any of the filling spill out. Pinch to seal the edges together and form into a ball once again. If the dough tears anywhere, no worries—just pinch the sides of the hole together to mend.
- Place the hotteok seam side down on the pan, pressing it down with your spatula to form a circle about 4 inches in diameter. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until golden brown, then flip over. Press down once again to further flatten and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, until both sides are golden brown. (You can prepare the next pancake while this one is cooking.)
- Repeat with the remaining dough and filling, adding more oil as needed, then serve immediately.