Updated: Nov 10
I spent several days this week locked in combat with dough. Last week, I got overconfident following my success in making "foolproof" pastry dough. I thought I could take on another baking project, forgetting that when it comes to baking I put the fool in foolproof.
Scallion pancakes, with their tender, flaky layers of greasy flatbread, have always been one of my favorite things to order in Chinese restaurants. Our local take-outs don't have good ones, so I thought I could try to replicate them at home. The dough is only flour and hot water. How hard could that be? After many attempts, consulting many recipes, and watching many demos on YouTube, I have declared the war is over and I have lost. I carefully measured out the flour and water and ended up with a dough that had industrial grade adhesive strength. Most of it came off on my fingers. I tried again with more flour, and it did not knead into a smooth, pillowy ball. It looked like an asteroid. When I rolled it out, I got a hinky blob that snapped back like SillyPutty. I am not looking for advice on this. Don't tell me to weigh the water or rest the gluten. This dough said "fight me" and kicked my ass.
I decided to give up on rolled dough and try a pancake batter instead. I was back on a solid footing of butter, milk and eggs. I fancied a waffle, but do not own a waffle iron. My kitchen is too small to store any one-trick ponies. A grill pan could make similar crenelations to deliver the desired amount of crunch. The result was a fluffy and crispy waffle with just enough onion. I did not add a lot of salt, as I wanted the egg and scallion to come through.
The result would be a great easy brunch dish, except that I am in the brunch-is-for-assholes camp. (Who am I kidding? Since Covid, working from home, I am eating "brunch" every day. As much as I am looking forward to getting back to some version of normal, I will definitely miss working curled up with my laptop in a lounge chair, still in my pyjamas and looking like a seamonster, until at least 2 pm.)
I took the remaining batter and watered it down to see if I could make popovers. The batter was still too thick for them to puff adequately, but I got some delicious souffle-like drop biscuits.
The insides of the biscuits had tender, souffle-like interiors when they were still warm from the oven. David loved these.
Definitely worth further experiments. After making these I discovered that Mandy Lee, the food blogger who created the aforementioned foolproof pastry dough, came up with a scallion popover filled with toasted marshmallow. Now that's a visionary.
6 tablespoons of butter
4-5 scallions, green parts chopped, light green parts minced and set aside for the garnish)
2 cups of flour
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup of plain yogurt
1 cup milk (I used whole milk)
4 large eggs (I actually used medium)
crème fraîche or sour cream
Melt butter in a light colored pan until the foam subsides and it starts to brown.
Take butter off the heat and stir in chopped scallion. Sprinkle with salt.
Let the butter cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, whisk together yogurt, milk, melted butter, and eggs.
Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients.
Preheat a waffle iron or grill pan and lightly coat with butter.
Cook waffles (using about 1/2 cup batter to make a waffle ~6 inches wide) until golden and crisp. Be careful not to make waffles too big as they won't cook through.
Top with crème fraîche, minced scallions, and a few grindings of fresh pepper.
Butter the iron or pan in between waffles.
For the drop biscuits, add 1/2 cup of water to half of the batter. Butter the insides of popover tins and bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until the tops of the biscuits are a medium brown.