What makes a pancake Norwegian?
Swedish pancakes are relatively well known in the US, but Norway has its own version
Taste of Norway Editor
When I was growing up, Swedish pancakes were a fixture of special breakfasts out with family. They were always Swedish pancakes, and I wouldn’t find out about the Norwegian version for many years. Once I did, I wondered what made these very similar pancakes any different.
I only knew they were warm and comforting, the sort of eggy, carb-filled food that tasted like dessert but for some reason counted as a real meal. I’ve since learned quite a bit about them, and I had the opportunity to share the enthusiasm and knowledge in a pannekaker cooking class in Seattle a few years ago.
Much thinner than the ones Americans typically eat, slathered with pats of melting butter in a pool of maple syrup, pannekaker—Norwegian pancakes—are more like a crepe. As for the Swedish distinction? Pannekaker are a little thicker and eggier than Swedish pannkakor, but they’re really quite similar.
There’s a tradition of eating the pancakes with soup for dinner—sometimes a yellow pea soup, other times a version studded with little pieces of meat and vegetables. While the idea of eating pancakes with pea soup originated in Sweden, many Norwegians have adopted the tradition, making the combination comfort food to people in both countries.
When developing this recipe, I noticed a lot of similarities between the ingredients in other ones. Basically, if you have flour, salt, sugar, eggs, milk, and butter, you can make pancakes. The differences come from the flavorings—which can include cardamom, lemon zest, and vanilla—and the ratios. Through testing I came up with my ideal ratio, which turned out similar to some others—the ultimate in authentic pannekaker, in my opinion.
Be aware that practice makes perfect. Don’t be afraid to just start cooking—the first ones will be imperfect and might even tear while you’re flipping or rolling them. That’s okay—it’s part of the process, and each one will turn out better than the last as you get the technique down and adjust the heat of your pan to the right temperature.
To serve, consider lingonberry preserves or perhaps another fruit jam with sour cream. Butter and sugar is another classic combination. I hope you’ll give these a try.
Norwegian Pancakes (Pannekaker)
Recipe initially published in Daytona’s Scandinavian food blog, Outside Oslo:
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ cups whole milk
2 tbsps. unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
Mix all ingredients except butter in a medium-sized bowl using a whisk or fork until the batter is smooth and you have no lumps. Stir in butter. Refrigerate for a half an hour to let the batter rest.
Meanwhile, warm a pan over medium heat. I prefer a well-seasoned cast-iron pan, which minimizes the need for additional butter to keep the pancakes from sticking.
Melt a little butter in the pan. To get started on your first pancake, pour in enough batter to thinly coat the bottom of the pan—I find that a 1⁄3-cup measure is just right for my 10-inch pan. Twirl the pan around to coat the bottom, and when the top starts to set and the edges begin to color slightly, carefully but confidently and swiftly slide a heat-safe silicone spatula under the pancake, jiggling it slightly as you do, and flip the pancake. It will probably need about 2 minutes on the first side and a minute or so on the second. When done, use the spatula to roll the pancake in the pan and transfer to a plate.
Repeat until you’ve used up all the batter, adding a little butter to the pan between pancakes if necessary. Cover the pancakes with a tent of foil paper as you go to keep them warm.
Serves 2 to 3.
Daytona Strong is The Norwegian American’s Taste of Norway Editor. She writes about her family’s Norwegian heritage through the lens of food at her Scandinavian food blog, www.outside-oslo.com. Find her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/OutsideOslo), Twitter (@daytonastrong), Pinterest (@daytonastrong), and Instagram (@daytonastrong).
This article originally appeared in the August 24, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.