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Finnish Oven Pancakes (Pannukakku)

Rebecca LindamoodThere is a certain type of weather that requires you to fire up your oven;  To combine flour, butter, eggs, milk and various other good things and apply heat. There is something in the low temperatures or rain or snow that obliges you to create baked goods and then eat them.  Since I am a slave to duty…

Finnish Oven Pancakes are a perennial forgotten favorite around our house.  Perennial in that we make them semi-often.  Semi-often in that I forget how simple a solution they are for last minute hot breakfasts, lunches or dinners until the children remind me.

I make them often enough that I remember there are 4 ingredients and I think I remember the quantities, but infrequently enough that I have to consult my human encyclopaedia de cuisine: my stepmother.  The conversations run like this.

(Phone rings and stepmother picks up the line.)

Val: Hello.

Me:  Hi, Val.  It’s me.  I am calling because I’m making Finnish Oven Pancakes again.

Val:  (chuckle)

Me:  I forgot again.  And I didn’t write it down again.

Val: (with the patience of Job) Four eggs, 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of milk, sugar, salt.

Me:  Thank you and I love you.

Val:  You’re welcome and I love you, too.

We have repeated this conversation about three times a year for about 16 years.  It’s not that I make this three times a year.  It’s that I make it in streaks, forget about it until the kids beg for it, smack myself in the head for having forgotten this recipe and hoist the phone to my ear once again. Thankfully, I have a very patient stepmother.

Thankfully, I say, because this is a recipe that should be added to your regular rotation and you deserve to know Val’s recipe.  And thankfully, too, because  finally, I am writing it out.  Writing it out so that I can share it all with you, yes.  But even more, writing it out means that I can stop annoying my beloved Val.  Well, at least about this particular recipe.  I’ll still call her for my knitting patterns, the-name-of-that-one-website-we-were-talking-about, the recipe for her oatmeal bread, that book title, which Mr. Bean episode had the hymn that they played while the Titanic was sinking, and the name of Hyacinth Bucket’s son.  Like I said, Val is a very patient woman.

But about these Finnish Oven Pancakes.  These fixtures of Finnish cuisine are prominent in many communities in the U.S. where there is a high population of Finn immigrants. The Upper Peninsula (Go, Yoop, eh?) has a huge Finnish community. They have graced us with all manner of cured fish and baked goods, but these?  These are one of their best. Finnish Oven Pancakes the love child of pancakes and custard.  They puff up like a Yorkshire pudding. They have structure -not wet, by any means- and texture, but they’re still soft.  Ranging from not-at-all-sweet to good-and-sweet and everywhere in between, Finnish Oven Pancakes can accompany everything from a simple sprinkle of sugar and squeeze of lemon to jam to sweetened whipped cream and Nutella to sausage gravy to stewed venison to seared mushrooms. Not all together, of course, but all this is to say it’s a very flexible meal base.

My boys prefer it with a little shake of confectioner’s sugar or brown sugar and a lemon wedge squeezed o’er top.  My husband likes it covered with sausage gravy like -as he is wont to say- “SOS, but much, much classier.”

It takes four ingredients; all of which will probably be in your pantry and/or refrigerator barring natural disasters or winter storms*.  Eggs, flour, milk, and salt.  Sugar is one-hundred percent optional.

*You will note that I don’t classify a winter storm as a natural disaster.  That is because I’m from Michigan.  We’re tough.  No whining about snow here, people.  Bring. it. on.

Finnish Oven Pancakes (Pannkakku)

Click here and scroll to the bottom for an easy-print version of this recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 of one stick) butter, cut into three or four pieces
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk, preferably whole milk
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • up to 4 Tablespoons sugar, optional
  • splash of vanilla extract, optional

Preheat oven to 400°F.  When the oven temperature reaches about 300°F, place an 8- or 9-inch cake pan or 10-inch pie plate in the oven with the butter in it.  The butter should melt, but not brown, while the oven finishes heating.

Place the eggs, f lour, milk, salt, sugar and vanilla (if using) in the carafe of a blender.  Fix the cover in place and blend on high, stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary, until the mixture is smooth and even.  When the oven is fully heated, and the butter is fully melted, pull the oven rack out far enough to work safely and pour the batter into the hot pan.  Push the rack carefully back into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the oven pancake has puffed quite high and is a deep golden brown.  You can test the doneness by quickly inserting a butter knife in the center of the oven pancake.  If the knife comes out clean, the pancake is done.

Remove the pan from the oven, cut immediately (it will deflate some, so don’t worry!) and serve topped as desired.

Here are some topping ideas:

If you add the sugar to the batter…

  • Powdered sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice
  • A handful or two of fresh or frozen berries
  • A sprinkle of brown sugar and drizzle of maple syrup
  • A dollop of fruit jam
  • Apples sautéed in butter and caramel sauce (oh help.)
  • A dollop or five of sweetened whipped cream

If you omit the sugar…

  • Sausage gravy and chopped green onions
  • Beef or venison stew
  • Gravy

The post above is taken from Rebecca Lindamood’s blog archives. For her most recent recipes, kitchen tips and parenting adventures, visit FoodieWithFamily.com. Rebecca also writes a monthly column in the Record-Eagle’s Food section.

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