Sunday, April 12, 2009

Good Friday Pancakes and Homemade Sausage Patties Recipes

My great grandmother, Elsie Berlin, born in the United States to German immigrant parents, made these yeast pancakes on Good Friday for her family. Her daughter-in-law, Ethel Berlin, continued the tradition, and, like her husband's mother, served warm fruit sauces and sausage patties on the side. The fruit was from the garden: home-canned summer apples and cherries, and additional fresh strawberries, announcing spring's arrival. My mother modified some things, added lemony blueberries, and, despite our pleading, she reserved this special meal for one day of the year. When I make Good Friday pancakes, I not only connect with my immediate and extended family, remembering the boisterous family gatherings of my childhood, but I connect to relatives long gone. We all worked from the same recipe afterall: we all beat six eggs, added flour, spilled the batter into a skillet, waited as the pancakes bubbled before flipping. Food as equalizer and catalyst for reflection. For more than four generations, these Good Friday pancakes are still conjuring memories and helping us to create new ones.

German Good Friday Pancakes
From Elsa Berlin

6 eggs, beaten with a mixer
2 cups warmed milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package yeast, softened in a 1/4 cup warm water.
3 1/4 cups flour (I used 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour with germ, and 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour.) You might need more or less flour. Add flour slowly, until you have a medium-thin batter.

Mix the beaten eggs with the milk, sugar and salt.
Add the flour, and stir until all lumps are gone. This should be a rather thin batter.
Add the yeast mixture.
Let stand, covered with a dish cloth, until it rises, usually more than an hour.
Pour approximately 1/4 cup of the batter, perhaps a little more, into a heated and oiled skillet. When the surface looks cooked on one side, flip to the other and cook briefly. These should be thicker than crepes.
Keep the stack warm in the oven while frying the others.

Blueberry Sauce

(adapted from a recipe from Christine Ogan)

1 cup frozen blueberries (I used wild blueberries.)
a little water, about 1/4 cup
juice of 1/2 lemon
1- 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch (or more, just to give a little body, not to turn the blueberries into a gluey mass)
a little lemon zest
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or more, to taste)

Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring, until the cornstarch thickens the mixture slightly, and the blueberries are warm.

Cherry Sauce

(adapted from a recipe from Christine Ogan)

1 cup frozen cherries
a little water, about 1/4 cup
1- 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch (follow instructions as above)
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or more, to taste)

Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring, until the cornstarch thickens the mixture slightly, and the cherries are warm.

Fresh Strawberries with Tarragon

Slice some strawberries and mix with tarragon leaves. Add a little sugar, or agave nectar, if you like.

Homemade Sausage Patties

1 pound ground pork
2 shallots, minced
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
sprinkle of cayenne, or to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
black pepper, to taste

Mix the ground pork with all the other ingredients. Form into patties, and cook in a wide skillet over medium high heat. When the patties are golden brown on one side, flip them, and cook for another 2 minutes or so on the other side.


Anonymous said...

Your grandmother's sausage recipe is more Italian than German. Spices like caraway, marjoram, savory and sage are usually used in german sausage. Also, Friday is usually a no meat day. Interesting family background intro. My Grandmother's name was Ethel too. I love family recipees! Unfortunately, my German Grandmother (Hutchenbauch) did not have many of her family recipees written down, so I'm trying to recreate them.

Banu said...


Those sausage patties are not a German recipe, and I don't call them German. They are my own creation, based on flavors I like, so if they are Italian, all the better for creating a cultural food mix. The German pancakes are, indeed, a tradition in our family, which was possibly moved from Tuesday (Shrove Tuesday, pancake day) to Friday, which would explain the meat eating, too.

Anonymous said...

I am a 71 yr old Christian and grew up eating pancakes on Good Friday that my mother made. They were dinner-plate size and stacked and cut like you would a regular cake. It was just a tradition that I never questioned; but I would really like to know where this came from. Was this just moved from the Shrove Tuesday? Was this an English custom? She was of English, Irish, and Scots descent. Any ideas on this?

AK Drees said...

Thank you, Banu for sharing this recipe with the world! We have our large meal of the day in the late afternoon on weekends so we all finished our Good Friday pancakes about half an hour ago.

Rest assured that generation number four has already pointed out to me - repeatedly - that these pancakes should happen far more often than once a year.

Blessed Good Friday and a Happy Easter to you and yours.


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