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Chinese Pancakes

2 cups flour
1 cup boiling water
3 Tablespoons oil for brushing

Measure the flour into a large bowl and add the boiling water
gradually as you stir with chopsticks or a wooden spoon until the
mixture resembles lumpy meal. Press the mass into a large ball.

Dust your work surface with flour and turn the dough out onto it.
Knead it, pushing with the heels of your hands and turning it, for
5 minutes, until it is no longer sticky. Dust lightly with flour
whenever necessary. Cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for
30 minutes.

Flour the work surface again and knead the dough another 5 minutes
until it is soft and smooth, dusting with flour when necessary.
Shape the dough into a log, cut it in half lengthwise, and then
roll each half back and forth with your palms to form a sausage
shape about 15 inches long. Cut each sausage into 1-inch pieces
and stand them up on their edges on a floured surface.

Brush 1 side of a piece of dough with oil and press this side onto
another piece; then roll into a double pancake measuring about 6
inches in diameter. Repeat until you have made 15 double pancakes.
Doubling is to cut the pan baking time and effort in half.

Heat a heavy skillet over low heat until hot. Place a pancake in
the center and "bake" it for about 1-1/2 minutes, until the surface
puffs into a bubble and the bottom is speckled with small light
brown spots. Flip and bake the other side about 45 seconds. These
pancakes should be soft and slightly chewy. The crucial point in
making them is the heat level; if the pan is too hot the pancakes
will be covered with large burned spots and if it is not hot enough
the pancake will dry out in cooking. Be careful to bake only 1-1/2
minutes and test for light brown spots, and you'll have a perfect
pancake. ake.

Remove the double pancake to a plate while you put another one into
the skillet; then peel off the finished top one to give you 2
individual pancakes. Fold each one to make a half moon and place
on a plate. Repeat the baking, peeling and folding until all 30
pancakes are made, lowering heat if pancakes are browning too fast.

Steam the folded pancakes on a heatproof plate for 5 minutes before
serving them. You may make them hours or days in advance, and you
can freeze them. Wrap tightly in plastic for refrigerating or
freezing. Reheat by steaming 10 to 15 minutes until soft and
resilient.

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