I've always suspected that I had a small mouth. My dentist recently confirmed this when she saw how uncomfortable I was during my routine cleaning. This is why I like small-bite snacks that I can easily eat, like sushi and fushka. This is where Æbleskivers come in. Æbleskivers are small, fluffy, round Scandinavian pancakes cooked in a special stovetop pan with half-spherical divots. I've never made them before, so I decided to dust off my cast-iron takoyaki pan and give it a go.
But first, a little history…
The story goes that a group of Vikings roaming the Atlantic were involved in an especially tough battle. When they returned to their ships, they were bruised, battered, and desperate for comfort and a means to regain their strength. As most people do in these situations, they were craving pancakes. But alas, the Vikings did not have the proper cookware. Instead, they greased their dented shields and poured the batter on them over a fire. And thus, the Æbleskiver was born. Well, actually, probably not. The Vikings used wooden shields made from pine trees lined with animal hide (not ideal for cookware).
The earliest Æbleskiver pans are more than 300 years old, made from hammered copper. In the 17th century, copper was switched out for cast iron resulting in a better crust. Æbleskiver translates to apple slices, and another story is that at the end of harvest, apples were sliced and used to make a mulled wine called glogg. The apples were then strained out, wrapped in dough, and fried. This is most likely the predecessor to the Æbleskiver.
Æbleskivers are usually served in threes, dusted in powdered sugar, with jam for dipping. There are two main types of Æbleskiver made today: yeasted or leavened with baking soda. I'll be diving into the quickbread-style one made with baking soda.
Adapted from Nordic Food & Living
I am using a recipe by Kim from Nordic Food & Living. While doing my research, I came across some recipes that added cardamom and nutmeg, so I also added that. I also switched out the vanilla sugar for vanilla paste, and increased the amount of sugar.
3 large eggs, separated
25 grams (2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
250 grams (2 cups plus 1 tablespoon) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract)
380 grams (1 ⅔ cups) buttermilk
100 grams (7 tablespoons) butter, melted, plus more for greasing
In a mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and sugar over medium-high until stiff peaks. When the whip is pulled out, only the tip should droop. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, flour, baking soda, salt, and vanilla paste until completely homogenous.
Slowly stream in the buttermilk while whisking, making sure that the final batter is smooth and lump-free.
Stream in the butter while whisking.
Using a rubber spatula, fold in the egg white in two parts.
Heat up the Æbleskiver pan over medium heat until lightly smoking. Add little knobs of butter into each divot and wait for it to melt.
Fill each divot ¾ of the way.
When a crust has formed on the bottom, using a wooden skewer turn the bottom half of the sphere 90 degrees and let the loose batter fill the divot again. Put a little extra batter into each hole that forms to fill it up again (alternatively, you can add fillings like apple, chocolate, or jam instead of more batter for a filled pancake).
Flip the Æbleskivers 90 degrees again, there should be half a sphere sticking out from the divot now. Once the bottom crust is formed, continue turning them regularly so that they cook evenly.
Once golden brown all over and cooked through, remove from the mold, dust with powdered sugar, and serve jam alongside.
Since my favorite part of pancakes are the bits that get really golden brown along the edges, Æbleskivers have my dream ratio of crust to fluff. The insides are light and supple with the scent of cardamom and nutmeg. The outsides have a slight crunch with deep flavor from the butter and browning. It took me a few tries to get the hang of cooking them, so I started with only filling a few divots instead of all of them to make sure I could pull it off. The key is having a really well-seasoned pan.
Have you tried them out? What's you favorite pancake?