Samoans make two kinds of pancakes - flat round ones and round round ones. Both recipes are so simple that they are unwritten and measured by the eye. Both use ingredients that are probably already in your pantry, and both can be mixed and ready to eat within half an hour.
My favourite are the panikeke lapotopoto - the round round ones - which commonly come in two flavours: plain and banana. Though I've also had them with pineapple and even raisins too.
Now, you shouldn't think that panikeke are exclusively Samoan, because Tongans make them, as well as Fijians. Heck, even the Okinawans have something similar.
Interestingly, some people squeeze the dough out from their fists, a sort of human pastry bag, if you will. They claim that the fried product is rounder and better shaped than those that enter the frier via spoon.
I reckon it's just a clever way to make sure the cook doesn't pop every third panikeke into their mouth. Think about it. If one hand is squeezing the dough in, and the other hand is taking the cooked panikeke out (with a utensil, obviously), then there are no idle hands to stuff your face with.
So the following recipe makes a baker's dozen, that's 13 pieces. But don't count how many are in the photo ok? Because it's the cook's right, even their duty, to eat a panikeke or two. How else will we know if the oil is hot enough?
Panikeke (makes 12, shhh)
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk
oil for frying
Heat up your oil over medium heat, then as soon as it starts to get shimmery, turn the heat down low. If you have anything as fancy as a thermometre in your kitchen, heat the oil to somewhere between 320°F and 356°F (160°C to 180°C).
You don't have to wait for your oil to get to temperature before mixing your batter. It'll take you less than five minutes, so go ahead and sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add the egg and milk, then mix everything up with enough water to form a thick batter. You know, I want to call this a batter because we're making pancakes, but it's actually more like a wet dough. See the video if you're not sure what consistency it should be.
Fry tablespoonfuls in the oil for 3-5 minutes until they're dark golden brown. If your oil is too high, the panikeke will be uncooked on the inside. If your oil is too low you'll have greasy panikeke. So every couple of batches, break one open to make sure it's cooked through, and eat it if you really must.
Eat hot or cold, though these usually don't get a chance to cool down before they're snatched up.
* You can substitute self-raising flour for the flour and baking powder.
* This recipe can be, and probably should be, doubled, tripled, quadrupled. Just make sure you don’t add too much liquid.
* Add a dash of vanilla to the mix if you like.
* Feel free to squeeze the panikeke from your hands, but two spoons work just as well. If you mixed a good dough, and the oil is the right temperature, then the panikeke will round themselves out, no matter what shape you drop in the oil. And if your panikeke have little 'horns' on them, well man, grab those horns! They´re crunchy and delicious!