In Russian, Belarusian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Serbian and Ukrainian cuisines, syrniki (Russian: сы́рник[и]; Ukrainian: сирники; Belarusian: сырнікі) are fried quark pancakes, garnished with sour cream, varenye, jam, honey or apple sauce. The cheese mixture may contain raisins for extra flavour. In Russia they are also known as tvorozhniki (творо́жники).
Syrniki are made from creamy quark, mixed with flour, eggs, and sugar, sometimes adding vanilla extract. The soft mixture is shaped into cakes, which are fried, generally in vegetable oil. The outside becomes crisp, and the centre is warm and creamy. They are sweet and served for breakfast or dessert. Their simplicity has made them very popular in Eastern Europe.
The name syrniki is derived from the word сыр in Russian or сир in Ukrainian (transliteration: syr), meaning “cheese” in both languages. Although the modern meaning of the word сыр (syr) in Russian is hard yellow cheese, the original word in Slavic languages stood for soft white cheese (similar to today’s quark cheese, which is still called сир in Ukrainian but replaced by творог, tvorog in Russian). Thus, the word syrniki, derived from the old meaning of syr, came to designate pancakes made from soft white cheese.
- 450 g Tvorog or drained cottage cheese
- 2 eggs
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 50 g caster sugar
- 100 g (⅔ cup) plain flour, plus extra flour for dusting and rolling
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- icing sugar, to dust
- cherry or other fruit jam and crème fraîche (optional), to serve
- Place the cheese, eggs, 1½ tablespoons oil, sugar, flour, baking powder and vanilla in a bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until well combined (no longer than 2-3 minutes). The mixture will be very sticky, but that’s what it’s supposed to be!
- Heat 2½ tablespoons oil in a nonstick or cast-iron frying pan over medium heat. Meanwhile, dust a clean work surface with the extra flour. Using a soup spoon, scoop batter directly onto the floured surface, then roll to coat and flatten with your palm to form a patty. Repeat process with the remaining batter to make about 14 patties.
- Before frying, make sure the oil is very hot by sprinkling a bit of flour into it; if it sizzles, it’s hot enough. Cook the pancakes in batches, for 1–2 minutes or until golden, then turn over and cook for a further 1–2 minutes or until golden and slightly puffed. The flour coating will make the outside slightly crispy while the mostly cheese filling will taste light and delicious.
- Dust the pancakes with icing sugar and serve with your favourite jam.