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Friday, December 25, 2009

Celebrating Christmas with a traditional family recipe: Palacinka

Merry Christmas!  We're celebrating Christmas Eve with my family and some special foods.  A standing rib roast, twice-baked potatoes, and more, followed by dessert: homemade peppermint ice cream topped with Great-Grandma Tacl's Magical Hot Fudge Sauce, and palacinka.

Yep, palacinka.

Okay, since I'm sure you're wondering (unless you also have some Eastern-European blood), here is how you pronounce it:  pah-lah-chink-ah.

It's basically a crepe; filled, and rolled.  Then topped with sour cream and baked.

Every other palacinka-eating family that I've met uses a different filling and eats it a different way.  My great-grandmother, Rose (Belkovic) Tacl, used Damson Plum jelly, so that's how we've always eaten it.

Since my grandmother died 12 years ago, our family's palacinka-eating habits have fallen off.  We are lucky if we have it once every few years now.  I realized yesterday that my two youngest sons have never had it!  Being the unofficial family historian / genealogist, I realize how important it is to keep the tradition alive for my own children.  All it takes is one generation to lose a family tradition, and it will be gone forever.  With that in mind, I was determined to make palacinka for our Christmas Eve family celebration.

3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups flour

I like to add the flour, sugar, and salt to a bowl, then slowly add the wet ingredients (eggs & milk) while stirring.  This keeps too many lumps from forming.

My grandma taught me how to cook palacinka when I was a girl.  I remember her telling me that the crepe should be so thin that you can see through it.  Well, when I hold it up to a light I can see the light shining through it... does that count?  :-)

It's not very easy.  You need a non-stick pan (I used my well seasoned cast iron pan).  Heat it well, then add a few drops of oil.  Take a scoopful of the crepe batter (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of batter) and pour it into the pan.  You want to be holding the handle of the pan in one hand, because as soon as the batter hits the pan you need to work fast.  You tilt the pan in all directions so the batter spreads evenly over the entire bottom of the pan.

Then let it cook for about 30 seconds (may take a bit longer, up to a minute or two).  Use a spatula to peek under one side.  If it is slightly tan / brown, it's ready to flip.  Flip and cook the other side for about 30 seconds (do not cook as long as the first side).

Then transfer the cooked crepe to a plate.  Stack them up as they are done.

The next step is to spread on a layer of jelly.  Don't be stingy.  It's Christmas!  Layer it on thick.

Then, roll the jelly-filled crepe.

Place it into a greased baking dish.  Repeat.  Keep placing the rolled crepes next to each other in the dish, making sure they are tightly fit next to each other.

When you've filled the baking dish, spread a thin layer of sour cream over the palacinka.

Bake at 350 degrees until the edges are brown, about 30 minutes.  Allow to cool, then cut into squares for serving (cut like you would a cake).

Lastly, sigh deeply with contentment and past remembrances as you eat.

May be eaten hot or cold.  I love to eat it hot fresh, then just pull the leftovers out the next day and eat 'em cold.

My husband has had palacinka several times and it's never been his favorite dish.  I think it's something you need to grow up with.  This year, though, I am determined to win him over.
Baby steps.

I took the crepes and filled them with his favorite dessert:  apple pie filling that I canned this summer.

I rolled 'em up just like regular palacinka and topped them with sour cream.


I will bake his smaller "American Palacinka" with my family's regular Croatian Palacinka.  If he likes it, it's one step in the right direction...

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!  I hope you're enjoying your own family traditions this season.

Thanks for visiting the All-Natural Mama blog, home to Wishful Acres Organic Farm.


  1. Mmmmm, that looks so yummy! I'm going to have to try that. Did Nate like it?

  2. Just you use the cast iron on flat burners or do you have a gas stove? I have those flat burners and my husband says cast iron will scratch them...