Saffron Hotteok. My Swedish Christmas version of a popular Korean street food; a deliciously filled pancake, best eaten piping hot!
I love all things bread. Whether it is a steamed bun, a sourdough loaf, or a nice pancake bread-hybrid. So these yummy, filled breads understand me. I try to have them overtime I visit South Korea. They come with different fillings, both sweet and savory, where the most common one I have come across is cinnamon brown sugar with chopped walnuts. Hotteok originates from China, but is a lot thicker than the ones we usually make in our family. I might do a recipe for Chinese filled flatbreads sometime, but for now, we’ll stick to this recipe.
Start by grinding up the saffron with sugar, and let steep in alcohol, or alternatively in hot water. Let sit for at least 15 minutes, or ideally for a day. Dissolve the fresh yeast in cold water, and add the steeped saffron liquid. Mix the flour and salt, and add to the liquid. Work together using a spatula or a large spoon, it will be a very wet dough. Cover and leave to ferment in a cool spot overnight, or during the day. Prepare the almond paste by putting it in the fridge.
Punch out the air, and start working in the rest of the flour, starting with 1/2 cup, and then gradually adding as you go. This dough does not need to be kneaded for too long, and will still be slightly tacky when it is ready. Do not add more than 1 cup in total. Cover and allow to rise while you prepare the filling.
Take the almond paste from the fridge or freezer, and use a peeler (I used a cheese peeler) to to peel off thin slices. Try to crumble the paste, and mix with sugar and a pinch of salt. You can add in some chopped almonds at this step if you’d like. If you would like to use the gingerbread sugar filling, double the amount of sugar, and use brown sugar if available (see recipe for melonpan).
Divide the dough into six pieces for large hotteok, or 8 pieces for small ones. Dust a little flour on the surface of a dough piece, or flour your hands, and form it into a somewhat round shape with a small dent in the middle. I recommend using around 2 tablespoons of filling for the large ones, and around 1 tablespoon for the small ones. Use the measuring spoon to help press down the filling into the bread, and pinch the sides together, sealing it really well. Press some almonds on top of the hotteok. Brush some oil on a plate, and place the breads there while you finish the rest.
Here you can use either a regular frying pan on the stove, or an electrical pizza grill. I use one which cooks from both the top and the bottom, saving time. Whichever you are using, you can start off by heating up some cooking oil. We want to give the hotteok a really nice, golden color! In South Korea, they usually fry these in streetfood stalls, using a big stamp to flatten each bread as they cook in the oil. You can use a regular spatula, but preferably the biggest one you have! Place the hotteok into the hot pan, and let it fry until the bottom is slightly golden, before flipping it, and pressing it down using a spatula. It should go from a round lump, to a flat, more pancake-y thick bread. Think two American pancakes stacked on top of each other. Lower the heat and let it cook for about minutes (or until brown) with the lid on, to help melt the filling.
Eat them straight out of the pan! Bordering on too-hot-to-eat, when the sugary filling is still a luscious melted thing. You can fill these with whatever you like, but for this version I used mainly a vanilla almond paste, and some gingerbread sugar. I hope you enjoy this!
Poolish (night before):
- 6,25 g fresh yeast (1/8 of 50 g fresh yeast) – Read note below
- 1 cup cold water (240 ml)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (240 g)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp alcohol (like rum or vodka) or substitute with hot water
- 0,5 g saffron
- A pinch of salt
- 1/2-1 cup all-purpose flour
- 50 g almond paste, cold
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla (preferably powdered, or sugar)
- Optional: A pinch of salt
- Optional: Chopped almonds
Optional gingerbread sugar filling:
Use brown sugar, and double the amount of sugar-to-spice ratio. Recipe here.
- Grind the saffron with sugar, and steep in alcohol or hot water, for at least 15 minutes or overnight.
- Dissolve the fresh yeast in cold water, and add the saffron liquid.
- Mix flour and salt, and add to the liquid. Use a big spatula to work the dough (it should be very wet at this stage). Cover and place in a cool spot to rise overnight.
- Punch out the air! And start kneading in 1/2 cup of flour, and slowly work in the rest – up to 1/2 cup. That is 1 cup in total, but do not add too much. It should be quite sticky! Cover and let rise will you prepare the filling.
- Take out the cold almond paste, and use a peeler to cut thin slices. Try to crumble it with the sugar and vanilla.
- Optional here to chop up some toasted almonds, but don’t add more than 3-4 tbsp.
- Divide into 6-8 pieces, depending on if you want to make big or small hotteok.
- Use a bit of flour when working with the sticky dough, and make little balls with dents in the middle (one at a time). Spoon in 1-2 tbsp filling (1-1 1/2 for small, 2 for big), using the spoon and your fingers to help push down the filling into the dough, and sealing it by pinching the edges together. Make sure it is well sealed, so the filling doesn’t leak out while cooking. Press down slivered almonds as a decoration if you’d like. Rest the buns on a plate brushed with some oil while you finish making them all.
- Heat up oil (be generous) in a flat pan, and place in a couple of hotteok. Cook until the bottom is golden brown, before flipping it over, and using a spatula to flatten it. Lower the heat, and cook with a lid to help melt the filling. Eat while it’s piping hot!
Note regarding yeast: I am using fresh yeast here, but if you are using instant dry yeast, you can decrease the amount used. I have yet to try it out myself, as fresh yeast is more common where I live. I would divide the amount by about 1/3 (1/3 tsp or 2,5 g).
I hope you like this recipe! These are absolutely best eaten hot, when the filling is still runny and and ready to burn anyone who isn’t careful enough. It just makes them more exciting eat, don’t you think? No, but really, eat with caution.
Don’t forget to tag and follow me on Instagram if you make these! Use the hashtag #umaminom and let me know how you like them. Until next time!