Watch this audio slideshow of how traditional Icelandic pancakes are made. They are different from what people call pancakes in many parts of the world; small, round, thin and sweet and are either rolled up with sugar or wrapped up in squares filled with jam—often blueberry—and whipped cream.
Narration and photos by Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir.
Icelandic pancakes are different from what people call pancakes in many parts of the world; they are small, round, thin and sweet and are either rolled up with sugar or wrapped up in squares filled with jam and whipped cream.
To make these pancakes, a special piece of equipment is required; a custom-made frying pan. Modern versions of these pans conveniently have the traditional pancake recipe written on the back:
Melt 25 grams of butter in a saucepan and leave to cool (can be replaced with two tablespoons vegetable oil). Sift three deciliters (one and ¼ cups) of flour and half a teaspoon of baking powder into a bowl. Then add one or two tablespoons of sugar and one quarter of a teaspoon salt.
Pour two or two and a half deciliters of milk into the bowl and stir until there are no lumps in the batter. Add one or two eggs and then another two or two and a half deciliters of milk along with one quarter of a teaspoon vanilla essence.
Finally add the melted butter and stir until the mixture is light and thin.
Heat the frying pan on medium heat. A little bit of butter or oil may be necessary to prevent the batter from sticking to the surface of the pan. When the pan is hot enough, pour about half a ladle of batter into the pan and distribute it as quickly and evenly as possible.
When the pancake is dry on top, it is time to flip it. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try flipping the pancake by tossing it into the air and catching it again with the pan, but if you’d rather be safe than sorry, use a spatula.
When both sides of the pancake have a golden color, it is ready. Remember, the first pancake is always experimental and has a habit of turning out too thick and in an odd shape. No worries, you can learn from the experience and eat the hot and delicious test pancake while you’re at it.
The trick is to use as little batter as possible but still enough to cover the whole pan. According to folklore, experienced housewives made pancakes so thin that they could read the daily newspaper <i>Morgunbladid<p> through them.
When you’ve used all the batter and have accumulated a huge pile of pancakes, you should fill them while they’re still warm.
Distribute sugar evenly over the pancake. Then roll it up tightly. Repeat this procedure until you’re down to half the pile.
Then whip some cream and collect your jam of choice, blueberry is highly recommended. Smear jam evenly over the surface of the pancake, and then add two heaped tablespoons of cream. Be careful not to add too much cream or you will have a disaster on your hands.
Fold the pancake twice until it has formed a square and continue until the pile is finished. The pancakes taste excellently with freshly-brewed coffee. The recipe serves at least four.
A few decades ago, traditional Icelandic pancakes were still an inseparable part of the buffet in every birthday, anniversary, christening and confirmation party.
The same applies to flat bread with smoked lamb, bread tarts with mayonnaise and vegetables, tuna salad on crackers and sponge cakes with whipped cream and canned fruit, which have now been replaced by more fashionably international dishes.
But pancakes are still eaten as the traditional dish of sólarkaffi, “sun coffee,” a celebration of the return of the sun held in late winter in Iceland’s narrowest fjords in the east and west. (Click here to read a Daily Life about sólarkaffi.)
Now that the sun has returned to Iceland with warming temperatures, let’s honor the old tradition of sólarkaffi and feast upon the forgotten delicacy of Icelandic pancakes.
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