Traditional Czech pancake recipe raised with yeast. Light pancakes made with whipped egg whites and delicately fragranced with lemon zest.
Great for breakfast, dessert or a sweet snack. These yeasted pancakes do take a little longer to make than a regular pancakes, but with a bit of planning are cooked in exactly the same time as other pancake recipes.
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Why make this recipe?
- Light & fluffy pancakes
- Taste delicious – especially when served warm
What exactly are yeasted pancakes?
Yeasted pancakes are pancakes that are raised with yeast, instead of baking soda or baking powder. This makes the cooking process a bit longer, but it makes the pancakes extra light and fluffy. It can take approximately 30 minutes to raise the pancake batter with the yeast.
The Story of this yeasted pancakes (Livance) recipe
Livance are traditional Czech pancakes and they are usually made in special frying pans – griddles with 4 cavities (called livanecniky) to make the pancakes about 5-7 cm wide.
The Czech name comes from a verb ‘lit’ (meaning: to pour), because they are made from ‘pourable’ dough (meaning very thin type of yeasted dough).
Over the years I’ve made a lot of different types of pancakes (and never followed any recipe!), so for this one I wanted to get as close to the source as possible. I had the opportunity to view an old cookery book from the end of the 19 century called simply The Czech Cookerybook.
The recipe has a couple of amazing ingredients that make the whole difference. The first is to make the whipped egg white, which makes the pancakes nice and fluffy. The second one is a fresh zest of a lemon, which makes these pancakes delicately fragranced, that you can eat them just on their own and you don’t need anything else with them.
The Czech Cookery book also advises us to serve the yeasted pancakes with thinned down plum jam (povidla), grated firm gingerbread or milled poppy seeds, sweetened cream cheese (tvaroh) or simply coat them with sugar and cinnamon.
My top tips on making this recipe successfully the first time round
Don’t rush the dough rising – make sure that you leave your yeasted pancakes batter to rest for long enough – at least 30-45 minutes.
Keep the pancake batter warm – make sure that your pancake batter is somewhere warm (but not hot), whether that’s a lightly warm oven, microwave (switched off), hot water tank cupboard or under your kitchen lights.
What makes this recipe work
- Leaving the pancake batter to prove for long enough makes the pancakes very light and easy to digest
- Whipping the egg whites separately adds to the fluffiness of these yeasted pancakes
- Using a fresh lemon zest makes a real difference to the taste
- Adding a pinch of salt helps to sharpen the flavours and won’t make your pancakes taste bland
Any specialist equipment needed?
Traditionally you would use a griddle with 4 cavities (similar to the one in the picture), but you don’t need to use any specialist equipment to fry our pancakes.
Instead of the traditional griddle, you can use any flat frying pan, a pancake pan or a flat griddle.
Time saving tip
The only way to save time with this recipe is to plan ahead. Mixing the batter first thing in the morning when I wake up is my preferred way to make this recipe. This gives the batter plenty of time to rise and I don’t have to rush having my first coffee and getting dressed.
Another option is to prepare the batter the night before (as the last thing before you go to bed) and leave it covered in the fridge overnight. The pancake dough will rise in about 6-8 hrs.
In the morning, let the pancake batter come to room temperature (if you have the time) and then start frying your pancakes.
Proving the pancake batter overnight in the fridge does save time because you don’t need to think about it in the morning or don’t need to get up that early to make your pancakes.
I’ve used plain flour (cake flour) in this recipe, which is what the traditional recipe had.
I’ve used dry active yeast for this recipe, but you could use fresh yeast if you have it. There is about 1 teaspoon of dry yeast, which is about 1/2 sachet of fast acting yeast or about 8-10 grams of fresh yeast.
I’ve used regular caster sugar – fine white sugar for this recipe.
I always add a tiny pinch of salt to my pancake batter because it helps to bring all the flavours together. I use regular fine table or cooking salt.
The traditional recipe for yeasted pancakes has dairy milk, but doesn’t specify what type.
At the time there was no semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, but only ‘milk’ which would have been very similar to our full-fat milk with probably a bit extra cream in. This does make a difference to the recipe taste, so if you want to you can use milk with a bit of cream in.
Freshly grated lemon zest adds a wonderful aroma to the pancake batter and I always regret it when I skip it!
Make sure you use fresh eggs for this recipe, so that you can whip the egg whites well.
Traditional way of making yeasted pancakes
Traditional way of preparing this recipe – whisk the egg whites first, then mix everything else in a separate bowl (including the egg yolks) and fold the egg whites in at the end. Make the pancake batter extra light and fluffy and it’s definitely worth doing.
Time saving tip
If you don’t have the time to whisk the egg whites, you can also use a ‘all in one’ method, where you mix all the eggs together. It does impact on how light (or rather not light) the pancakes are, but the pancakes will be still taste delicious!
how to make traditional Czech livance – yeasted pancakes
Separate the eggs into egg white and egg yolks.
Whisk the egg whites into hard peaks using an electric whisk or using a mixer.
Measure and mix all the dry ingredients – plain flour, yeast, zest of lemon, pinch of salt and sugar.
Add most of the milk, but keep some just in case the batter is too runny. (the final amount depends on what type of flour and milk you are using, so it’s best to add milk gradually).
Add the egg yolks and mix in (you can carry on using the electric whisk for this).
You should have a slightly thicker batter (if not add more milk).
Once you are happy with the consistency of your pancake batter, fold in the egg whites gently.
Cover with a tea towel and leave somewhere warm (but not hot) to prove for at least 30 minutes or until the pancake batter roughly doubles in size (or close enough).
Heat your pancake pan on medium heat and test the first pancake. Taste it and add more sugar, salt or anything else you think your pancake batter needs (more milk if it feels too thick).
Fry the rest of the pancakes on both sides until they are golden brown.
How else you can make this recipe? Variation on this recipe, Allergies, dietary requirements
This yeasted pancakes recipe (as it is) is not suitable for gluten or dairy free diet. It’s also not suitable for vegetarians or vegans, but here is how you can make it so:
Swap the plain flour for gluten-free plain flour mix and either add 1/2 teaspoon of xantham gum or use as it is if your gluten-free flour already has a xantham gum mixed in.
Dairy Free Version
Swap the regular milk for your favourite plant based milk, bearing in mind that something like coconut milk will affect the flavour of the pancakes. I usually use rice or oat milk to keep the flavour the same.
Swap the eggs with about 1/3 cup of vegetable or sunflower oil. This will make the pancakes still light and moist.
I wouldn’t recommend to use bread flour as this would make the pancakes tough and less light.
To keep the pancakes still nice, light and fluffy you could use 50% plain flour and 50% different flour, such as:
- Spelt Flour
- Buckwheat Flour
- Wholemeal Plain (Cake) Flour
Please don’t use self-raising flour for this recipe as we are going to use yeast as raising agent and it would be just too much together.
This recipe will work with any granulated type of sugar. I’ve used a regular caster sugar, but you can change the flavour of the pancakes by using other type of sugars.
Darker sugars, such as light brown sugar, coconut sugar or similar types of sugar will add a colour and flavour to your pancakes.
If you want to use liquid sugars, such as honey, agave or maple syrup, you might need to add a little less mill to compensate for the liquid sugar.
The traditional recipe for yeasted pancakes have regular milk but you can use pretty much any type of milk with this recipe. I usually use semi-skimmed milk, but whole milk would add extra creaminess if you wanted to. Lactose free or plant based milks are fine too – use the same amount as the recipe states.
- rice milk
- oat milk
- 50% water & 50% white yoghurt mix
- whole milk
- 50% cream & 50% water or milk
These pancakes are pretty amazing as they are, but you can easily make them different if you cinnamon, mixed spice or other sweet spices, change the type of sugar, lemon or orange zest or swap regular milk for single cream or yoghurt.
Toppings & Sauces Ideas
Traditionally you would serve the yeasted pancakes with thinned down plum jam (povidla), grated firm gingerbread or milled poppy seeds, sweetened cream cheese (tvaroh) or simply coat them with sugar and cinnamon.
But you can add any kind of topping that you like, such as yoghurt, marmalade, jam, chocolate spread, peanut butter, fresh fruit or anything else you like.
These pancakes also taste great on their own and you can take them to work or for a day trip as a snack.
This recipe makes 12 pancakes (about 6-7 cm in diameter) on the standard pancake frying pan (see above).
Can I scale up or down this recipe?
Yes, absolutely – you are welcome to half the recipe by halving all the ingredients. The amount of time you will need to prove the batter might not necessarily half in time, but it will be a bit quicker if you keep the batter somewhere warm enough.
This recipe is also perfect to double or triple. Again double or triple all the recipe ingredients and leave to rise for the same time as the recipe states. Because you’ve added more yeast the proving time should remain the same, providing that, again, you keep your dough in warm (not hot) environment.
How to serve this recipe
Serve cold or hot – but traditionally these would be kept warm in the oven and served hot. You can easily warm them up in the microwave if you need to (best before you add any toppings).
This is a pretty straightforward recipe, so you shouldn’t come across many problems.
The only thing here to remember is that the proving time might be different for different pancake batters, depending on how warm/cold your kitchen is (or the place you leave your pancake batter to rise).
Make sure that you use a very low heat (to medium heat) on your pan as I found that the yeasted pancakes need a little more time to rise and cook/fry than regular pancakes. If you keep them on too high temperature, they might get too brown too quickly and could end up being slightly undercooked inside.
Can this recipe be made in advance?
Yes, you can make your yeasted pancakes in advance and then either keep them in the fridge in an airtight container (perhaps stored with a baking parchment in between each pancake, so that they don’t stick to each other) for 2-3 days.
I would always heat them up in the microwave or oven (180C for 5-10 minutes – depending on the quantity) and serve the warm.
If you make far too many or you can’t finish them in a few days, I’d recommend freezing them. Freeze them straight away, leaving them on a flat tray (placed in the freezer) and then stack them up with baking or greaseproof paper in between.
That way you can easily take them out one by one and have them for breakfast any time you want.
How to store pancakes if you have any leftovers
As if! But if you do have some leftovers, cover your pancakes with another plate (or place them into an air tight container) and keep them in the fridge for 1-2 days or freeze them on the same day.
I’ve never had them in the freezer for more than 1-3 months, but I’m sure they will probably last a bit longer if needed.
How to re-heat yeasted pancakes
Simply microwave them for 30 seconds or so. Check after 30 sec and add more time if needed. You can keep them stacked in a 3-4 to prevent them from overheating or burning.
You can also use the oven switched on about 180C (350F) for 5-10 minutes – depending on the quantity. If you are laying them out individually, make sure your tray goes into already warm oven so that you don’t dry your pancakes unnecessarily.
Czech Yeasted Pancakes Recipe (Livance)
- pancake pan with 4 cavities or a regular frying pan or griddle
- 300 grams plain flour 1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons
- 300-350 ml milk 1 1/4 cup – 1 1/2 cups
- 2 eggs separated to whisk the egg whites separately
- 4-6 tablespoons caster sugar fine white sugar
- 1 teaspoon dry active yeast
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest or more to taste
- 1 large pinch fine salt
- butter or oil to fry your pancakes
- Separate the eggs into egg white and egg yolks.
- Whisk the egg whites into hard peaks using electric whisk or using a mixer.
- Measure and mix all the dry ingredients – plain flour, yeast, pinch of salt, lemon zest and sugar.
- Add most of the milk, but keep some just in case the batter is too runny. (the final amount depends on what type of flour and milk you are using, so it’s best to add milk gradually).
- Add the egg yolks and mix in (you can carry on using the electric whisk for this).
- You should have a slightly thicker batter (if not add more milk).
- Once you are happy with the consistency of your pancake batter, fold in the egg whites gently.
- Cover with a teatowel or a plate and leave somewhere warm (but not hot) to prove for at least 30 minutes or until the pancake batter roughly doubles in size and starts to bubble.
- Heat your pancake pan on medium heat and test the first pancake. Taste it and add more sugar, salt or anything else you think your pancake batter needs (more milk if it feels too thick).
- Fry the rest of the pancakes on both sides until they are golden brown.
- These traditional Czech yeasted pancakes are often enjoyed with sweetened cream cheese on top (tvaroh) or with thick plum jam (povidla) and or grated gingerbread. You can of course top them with different sweet sauces, yoghurt, peanut butter, nutella, cream, jam or marmalade or anything else you fancy.