Baked Pancakes with spinach, cream & Comte Cheese
Recipe from Foolproof French Cookery by Raymond Blanc.
A great, warming dish for all seasons and all ages. It is dish from my region, Franche-Comté, and is rich in cream and melting Comté cheese. For the meat lovers you can ‘roll-up’ a fine slice of ham in each pancake. As ever the quality of the ingredients is crucial for the success of this dish. Buy the best Comté cheese, as it is the main element of flavour. You can have the stuffed pancakes ready to be baked one day in advance and they will be just as good.
|For the pancakes|
|2||Eggs (organic or free range)|
|1 pinch||Freshly ground black pepper|
|1 tbsp||Chopped fresh chives|
|1 tbsp||Chopped fresh flat parsley|
|50g||Unsalted butter, cooked to hazelnut brown stage|
|1 tbsp||Un-scented oil such as groundnut, for cooking the pancakes|
|For the spinach and mushroom filling|
|300g||Spinach, washed, stalks removed, dried|
|1 pinches||Freshly ground white pepper|
|200g||Button mushrooms, fresh & tight, sliced 3mm thick|
|50g||Best quality Comté cheese|
|For the cream and cheese sauce|
|8||Gratings of nutmeg|
|50g||Best quality Comté, finely grated|
|1 pinch||Freshly ground white pepper|
Making the pancake batter
Tuck a cloth under a mixing bowl to make it more stable. Add the flour, make a well and crack in two eggs in the well. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk the eggs, incorporating the flour little by little. Thin down with a little milk. This will ensure that you have a smooth batter. Gradually pour in the milk whisking continuously. Add the chopped chives and parsley. Separately, heat the butter in a small pan until blonde and foaming. Pour this butter into the pancakes whisking all the time to incorporate it. The butter will give flavour and help prevent the pancakes from sticking. Reserve.
Making the spinach and mushroom filling
They need to be cooked in two separate pans. On high heat melt 20g of butter in a 20cm pan and throw in the spinach. Cook down the spinach at full heat stirring all the time for two minutes. Season with salt and pepper. With the back of the spoon squeeze the water out of the spinach. Reserve. On high heat in a separate pan heat the remaining 20g of butter and cook the mushrooms for two minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Mix the mushrooms with the spinach and stir in 50g of finely grated Comté. Reserve.
Cooking the pancakes
Preheat the oven at 200°C. Have ready a spatula and a tray to place the pancakes on once cooked. Heat a frying pan 16 – 18cm diameter, or better a pancake pan on a medium heat, add a teaspoon of oil. Swirl oil around. The oil must be hot enough to sear and cook the pancakes. Too hot they will burn and not hot enough they will be beige and be cardboard like. Practice makes perfect. Add just enough pancake batter to the hot pan so that when swirled the mix covers the surface. Cook for 15 – 20 seconds. Slide the spatula underneath and flip the pancake over. Cook for a further 15 – 20 seconds. Repeat until all the batter is used. Try to make them as thin as possible. The right thickness will give you 12 – 14 pancakes, six portions.
Filling the pancakes
Spoon the filling into each pancake and roll tightly. Reserve on a tray. This can be done one day in advance. Arrange all the rolled pancakes into a gratin dish (roughly 20 – 24cm diameter).
Making the sauce
Bring the whipping cream to a rolling boil and add 8 gratings of nutmeg and the seasoning. Beware, as the Comté is already quite salty. Pour the cream over the pancakes and grate 60g of Comté cheese over the pancakes.
Cooking the dish
Bake the pancakes in the 200°C pre-heated oven for 20 minutes. The cheese will have ‘gratinated’ acquiring a golden brown crust. Serve the bubbling dish from oven to table.
Recipe from Foolproof French Cookery by Raymond Blanc, published by BBC Books.
Recipe © Raymond Blanc 2002.
Photograph © Jean Cazals 2015.