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Monday, July 30, 2007

Aebleskivers (Danish Pancakes)

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Sometimes being in a new place, really being there, means experiencing some part of its unique food heritage. This is true even if it doesn't fit into the diet plan. And so it was that while visiting Seattle I was introduced to Aebleskivers for the first time. My host Nick, at left working his magic, grew up in a home where his mother made these spherical pancakes to celebrate their Danish heritage. This is his family's recipe for Aebleskivers. The recipe originally comes from an old edition of Scandinavian Cooking by Beatrice Ojakangas, who is a family friend of my hostess Maren. Making these requires a special cast iron Aebleskiver pan, which is an inexpensive tool for starting such a fun family tradition. Two or three of these little pancakes are quite satisfying with a cup or tea or coffee. They reheat modestly well, but nothing compares to the slightly crisp exterior when they are hot off the stove.


½ C butter, melted
3 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp sugar
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cardamom, if desired
Powdered sugar
Butter for pan

In a large bowl, blend the melted butter, egg yolks, milk and sugar. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom (if desired). Stir the dry mixture into egg-yolk mixture. In a clean medium bowl, beat egg whites until stiff and fold into the batter mixture. Heat aebleskiver pan over medium-low heat until a drop of water sizzles when dropped into pan.

When preparing these we used a minimal amount of butter in the pan. I would say approximately cut 1 Tbsp of butter into 7 small chunks and place 1/7 Tbsp of butter into each of the pan’s wells. The butter should melt and brown fairly quickly, although this depends on how high you have the heat. Pour batter into each of the wells until just shy of the top of the well. If your heat is fairly moderate you should be able to add all the batter and then quickly begin turning. Reach a bamboo skewer into the batter, press lightly into the bottom and gently flick a quarter turn to rotate the batter, gradually moving the thin shell around (as shown). Move continuously around the pan, rotating the batter until you have formed a sphere. This is actually quite a fun process, and something everyone present might want to try once.

Serve the aebleskivers with jam, fresh berries, powdered sugar, or applesauce. I am told that the more adept women in the community are able to add a small pocket of applesauce into the pancake. You pour a bit of batter into the pan, add a dollop of applesauce, and then top with more batter. Turn as before. I have never performed this feat myself however.

The process of turning the aebleskivers is not as difficult as it sounds. On my first try I produced seven fine aebleskivers. However, my pride went before my downfall. On my second time around, flush with the glory of the first batch, I didn't notice the pan was hotter. I didn't turn them quickly enough, so rather than create a nice full pancake ball, I was left with somewhat sad pancake impressions of PacMan. Still tasty, but not quite so glorious.

Makes 30 servings. Nutritional Information (from 64 calories, 3.6 g fat, 0.2 g fiber, 104 mg sodium.

I have a real soft spot in my heart for baking from a traditional heritage. If you enjoy Scandanavian cooking, my hostess Maren also recommends The Great Scandinavian Baking Book, by the same author. Her family was part of some of the taste testing for these books, so they know them very well. Both books are very well reviewed online.

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