This week we made crepes to recognize Maslenitsa, which is being celebrated in Slavic Orthodox European countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Kazakhstan. However, it’s Russia that celebrates this festival most elaborately. Maslenitsa is a folk holiday that is observed the week before the start of the Great Lent (Russian Orthodox Lent). Maslenitsa is related to Mardi Gras, which is celebrated in the United States and in European countries.
In the religious world it is a week before the Great Lent, so people eat a lot and live it up. For the non-religious people it is another reason to feast and celebrate as well. This holiday puts families and friends together.
In pagan times, the festival marked the end of winter and the beginning of spring. The name of the festival translates as Butter Week, Cheese Week, or Pancake Week because meat is off-limits, but dairy is allowed. It was believed the more crepes were made the faster the warm weather would come, but the first crepe was always offered to the soul of the dead. The round crepes symbolized the sun and are eaten throughout the week. Aside from feasting on crepes, family gatherings, sleigh rides, snowball fights, bonfire jumping and specific activities for each day of the week are all part of the tradition. The celebratory week ends with burning the festival straw effigy of a woman, Lady Maslenitsa, at the bonfire.
This is an easy crepe recipe that allows for any fillings or toppings – savory with cheese and spicy sauce, or sweet, with jam and fruits. Favorite Russian toppings are caviar, smoked, salty salmon, jams, and sour cream with condensed milk. Crepes are also filled with creamy mushrooms, cottage cheese as well as sautéed cabbage and mashed potatoes. It’s the best when you take the stuffed crepe and lightly fry it in a saucepan for a crispy outer texture.
- 2 cups of milk
- 1 1/2 cups of flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tea spoon of baking soda
- 1 tea spoon of sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoon of hot water
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil or melted butter
- Warm the milk slightly above room temperature, 20 seconds in the microwave or a minute on the stove.
- Meanwhile beat the eggs using a whisk with salt and sugar.
- Add milk and beat it a little more.
- Add flour.
- Mix baking soda with hot water and add it to the mixture.
- Add coconut oil. Mix well and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. The batter should be the consistency of heavy cream.
- Preheat the saucepan to medium high heat. If you’re a regular saucepan you will need to oil or butter the pan.
- Ladle the batter into the saucepan, about 1/4 cup for each crepe. Tilt the pan in a circular motion to spread and cover the batter evenly over the surface of the skillet. Cook until the bottom of the crepe is golden brown. About 2 to 3 minutes.
- Loosen the crepe with a spatula and flip it to cook the other side, 1 minute.
- Slide the crepe out and repeat the process. Coat the skillet with coconut oil or butter, as needed.
- Serve with Nutella®, jam, cheese, honey, fresh whipping cream, fruit or any filling of your choice.