30. August 2014 · Comments Off on Danish Pancakes · Categories: Domestic

The allure of the aebelskiver – this is a peculiarly Danish version of (basically) fried bread dough that I only know about because of my paternal grandparents. Who were not Danish – oh, no, Grannie Dodie and Grandpa Al were British and fiercely proud of it. When my brothers and sister and I were children, we almost always spent a week with them at Christmas – the week before Christmas, usually. The week after Christmas belonged to the maternal set of grandparents – Grannie Jessie and Grandpa Jim so that Grannie Jessie could take us to the Rose Parade on New Years’ Day. And we would usually have a week or so with the grandparents during summer vacation, as well as regular dinners on Saturday evenings with Grannie Dodie and Grandpa Al, or mid-week day-time excursions to visit Grannie Jessie in Pasadena – usually after doctor appointments with the elderly doctor who had delivered us all, or shopping excursions for school shoes, or something like that.

Anyway, one of the regular amusements during the stint with Grannie Dodie and Grandpa Al would be a drive up the coast from Camarillo to Solvang – a small inland town north of Santa Barbara which did and still does milk the absolute most touristic value possible out of having been founded by, lived in, or just named by Danish immigrants. When I last visited the place, I noticed that a much larger portion of old downtown Solvang was tricked out in Danish window dressing than what I had remembered as a child. But never mind – little towns like Solvang go with what they have – and what Solvang had was all things Danish. One of the widely advertised delights was aebelskivers, and if not the actual dish as a restaurant entrée or dessert, than in the peculiar little pans to make them in. Grandma Dodie and Grandpa Al never – to our disappointment – wanted to sample them. No, even with the drive from Camarillo to Solvang, we never stopped for lunch anywhere. Either Grandma Dodie and Grandpa Al had used up all their original issue of adventuresome spirit when they immigrated in the first place, they didn’t trust foreign food, or – most likely – they balked at the expense. (Both Grannie Dodie and Grannie Jessie were parsimonious, pinching pennies until a booger came out of Lincoln’s nose, but at least Grannie Jessie did take us to Beadles’ Cafeteria in downtown Pasadena, on occasion – likely because Beadles was a good value.)

Anyway, I was then and afterwards intrigued by aebleskivers – and sometime during the last couple of decades, I picked up an aebleskiver pan. Can’t remember when and where – in Europe someplace? On sale, somewhere or other? My daughter unearthed it from the drawer underneath the oven, where the romertoph clay casseroles, the Spanish cazuela dishes, and the cast-iron Dutch ovens and frying pans live (she was looking for a fry-pan to bake deep-dish pizza in) and asked what it was. It was still in plastic, with a little recipe pamphlet tucked inside. The company that manufactured it – Pyrolux – seems to be no longer in existence, but it was a good sturdy pan. And when I explained what it was (still baffled over where and when I had bought it) my daughter asked if we could make aebelskivers with it for a weekend breakfast.

And we did. They were magnificent. The pan had a non-stick surface, and the little pancakes turned obediently with the application of a bamboo skewer, and made perfect spheres with a crusty golden outside, and a delicate and tender inside, either plain or enlivened with a spoonful of jam. Grannie Dodie and Grandpa Al never knew what they missed.

For the pancakes, combine 1 egg, 2 tsp. sugar, 1 cup of buttermilk, ½ teasp vanilla, 2 Tbsp. canola oil. In another bowl, combine 1 cup flour, ½ teasp baking soda, 1/8 teasp each of baking powder and salt. Whisk into the liquid, and fill each hollow in the heated aebelskiver pan a little less than full. This will make at least two pans full – remember to dab a bit of butter in each hollow before starting each new batch. It is also customary sometimes to put a teaspoon of jam in the dough as you start to bake them. The jam sinks down a little, as the dough cooks, and the aebelskiver finishes already filled with jam. They are also great just plain, and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

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