Sunday, August 1, 2010

How to Make Swedish Pancakes

Swedish pancakes are not quite crepes, and my version isn't exactly what you see at IHOP. This recipe was originally taken from the 1973 edition of Husmoderns K√∂ksalmanack and translated into American units of measure. But this is a much refined version of that basic recipe, and I hope you'll find the instructions easier to follow.

Pancakes and the cast-iron skillet from which they were born.
In a medium bowl, combine:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 pinches of sugar (y'know, a bit more than the salt)
The milk is typically 2% or full-fat cow's milk, but the recipe is surprisingly flexible and also works with skim, soy, rice, or lactose-free milk. Condensed milk probably won't cut it, though. For a richer batter ("luxury pancakes," my mother would say), add another egg or two in exchange for some of the milk.

Mix to break up the egg yolks. Then add:

  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour

Whisk until lump-free. Then whisk in:

  • 1 cup milk
  • (optional: 2 tbsp melted butter)

Whisk until smooth. Adding half the liquid at a time makes it smoother, faster.

Heat flat skillet until very hot. Cast-iron works best. Nonstick is dangerous because you need high heat, which is bad for Teflon coats.

Spray pan with nonstick butter-flavored spray, or use a dab of butter or margarine in the pan. When in doubt, just use butter. Adding the optional butter above narrows the quality gap between the nonstick spray and dab-o'-butter methods.

Add ladle of batter to pan, then swirl around to get pancake shape. If using cast-iron skillet, handle will be very hot -- remember oven mitt! Leave the pancake smaller than the skillet to make the turning easier, or fill it for circular perfection. Me, I leave flip-friendly margins.

The swirling will reveal imperfections and suggest adjustments.
  • Add milk if batter is too thick; add flour if too liquid; You're aiming for a consistency like half-and-half, unwhipped heavy cream, or baby formula.
  • Turn down the heat if batter solidifies before you can swirl it into a circle. Turn it up if the batter refuses to turn solid on you, or if pancakes turn out colorless, crumbly, or mushy.
Spatula-flip when the batter stops glinting like a polished car under the microwave oven's unforgiving light. You want to avoid slattering batter across your stove when turning the pancake!

Remove after another 30 seconds or so, or when steam stops rising from the pan. If the steam turns into black smoke, you're too late. When the pancake catches fire, you're just doing it wrong.

Butter the pan and start again!

Serving suggestions:
  • Cover with syrup, honey, or sugar; roll up; enjoy.
  • Fruity alternatives: lingonberry jam, raspberry preserves, fresh blueberries and whipped cream.
  • Party pancakes work with Nutella spread, peanut butter, or chocolate syrup.
  • Want sweeter pancakes? Add more sugar and some vanilla extract to the batter. 2 tablespoons cocoa powder completes the picture.
  • How about savory? Increase the salt to 1/2 teaspoon and omit the sugar. Eat with bacon, sausage, and over-easy eggs.
Want more secrets from the Swedish chef in me? Let me know in the comments below.

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