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16 Feb 2022

Zuza Zak’s syrniki pancakes with summer berry salad and chocolate buckwheat

Zuza Zak’s syrniki pancakes with summer berry salad and chocolate buckwheat
Amber & Rye: A Baltic Food Journey by Zuza Zak (Murdoch Books, £25). Photography by Ola O. Smit.

They’re often served for breakfast topped with soured cream and berries, but once I’d tried them with chocolate buckwheat there was no going back.

The trick to making them fluffy, I find, is to use an extra soft, fine flour, but if none is available, plain flour will be fine. You can buy roasted buckwheat (kasza gryczana) and twaróg cheese from Polish food shops.

Serves 4
Takes 25 minutes


  • 300g twaróg or curd cheese
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp 00 pasta flour or plain flour
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • rapeseed oil, for frying
  • soured cream or creme fraiche, to serve

For the summer berry salad

  • 200g mixed berries, such as blackberries, raspberries and quartered strawberries
  • handful of torn mint leaves
  • marigold flowers (optional)

For the chocolate buckwheat

  • 2 tbsp roasted buckwheat
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder


  1. In a large bowl, use a fork to mash the cheese and eggs with the salt. Add half of the flour and sugar and all of the vanilla extract and carry on mashing until all the ingredients are well combined (if you’re using twaróg, the mixture will retain some texture). Cover and leave to chill in the fridge while you make the summer berry salad and chocolate buckwheat.
  2. For the summer berry salad, combine the berries with the mint. If you’re using marigold flowers, pull off some of the petals and mix them into the salad, saving a few whole flowers for decoration. Set aside.
  3. Pour about 2 tbsp of oil into a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the buckwheat and cook, stirring, for about 2 mins, until it smells nutty and has turned a shade darker. In a saucepan, melt the butter with the honey, then stir in the cacao powder. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the buckwheat and drain on paper towel. Tip into a heatproof bowl and pour the butter, honey and cacao mixture on top. Stir well, then allow to cool while you cook the syrniki.
  4. Heat oven to 110C, 90C fan, gas ¼. Scatter the remaining flour over a plate. Form syrniki mixture into balls, then roll in the flour. Heat a film of oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Working in batches, fry the syrniki for 3-4 mins on each side until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel then keep warm in the oven while you cook the rest.
  5. Serve with the chocolate buckwheat, soured cream or creme fraiche, and plenty of summer berry salad. Decorate with the reserved marigold flowers, if using.

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