Somehow in my 20 years living in the U.S., I had neither heard of nor met aebleskiver. Last year, a photo I stumbled upon while researching traditional foods of Minnesota put me on a remedial path. Æbleskiver (spelled aebleskiver or ebleskiver in English) are distinctively spherical traditional Danish pancakes.
I am usually wary of adding tools to my kitchen, but in this case curiosity gained the upper hand: I purchased a cast-iron aebleskiver pan. While the batter is straightforward to make, cooking aebleskiver requires some practice. I entrusted my training to online videos. The most useful one is titled "Making Aebleskiver with Arne." Having navigated the learning curve, I can offer you some tips to make your sailing smoother.
Whenever you learn a new skill, be it making aebleskiver or handmade pasta, I recommend you start small (the ingredients here make a manageable batch for a beginner) and put yourself in a non-hurried situation. Give yourself time and space to practice and make mistakes. Until you are comfortable with the process and its timing, do not wander away from the stove. You want to learn how your pan works and how to adjust the heat to maintain the right temperature. Oil the molds well and do not overfill them; the batter puffs up when heated and if it overflows, turning the aebleskiver will be difficult. Soon enough, you'll get the rhythm and the experience will turn into a little dance — the simple magic of turning fluid batter into a crisp ball.
The recipe on this page is the result of some reading and some testing of a few variations. I cannot say how my version compares to what you would eat in Minnesota or Denmark, but I can say that aebleskiver became an immediate breakfast favorite in our household.
For many people, making pancakes is a Sunday morning ritual that connects them to sweet childhood memories, like standing on a chair next to the stove and watching an adult flip them, or early morning plotting with a sibling to make flapjacks as a surprise for parents still asleep in blissful ignorance. But I don't have any pancake attachments, so it was easy for me to fall in love with aebleskiver without feelings of betrayal. If Sunday pancake breakfast is an unmovable pillar of your life, you can always start a Saturday aebleskiver tradition.
Aebleskiver are best eaten as soon as they are made. Should you have leftovers, re-heat them in the oven before serving. You'll need an aebleskiver pan (with roughly 2-inch-diameter molds) that works well with the type of stovetop you have, a couple of bamboo skewers and a small pastry brush.
Ingredients and method:
1 large egg, preferably free-range
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk or kefir
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ounce whole-wheat pastry flour
3 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
One pinch of salt
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Powdered sugar, for topping
Separate the egg white into a small bowl. Let it stand and come to room temperature. Whisk the yolk and vanilla extract into the buttermilk or kefir. Set aside.
Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk to aerate and blend them.
Place the aebleskiver pan on the stove and heat up on medium heat. Oil the molds. I use sunflower oil, rather than butter, and a pastry brush to ensure the molds are well oiled (the bristles burn a bit, so I will need to replace the brush at some point).
Beat the egg white until stiff peaks form.
Pour the liquid into to the bowl with the dry ingredients then add the butter, stirring with a spatula until just combined. Gently fold in 1/3 of the egg white at a time. The batter will not be homogeneous and that's OK.
Pour about 2 tablespoons of batter into each mold. The batter should reach just below the rim. (You may want to do 3 or 4 at a time until you get the hang of it.)
The batter will puff up. When a thin crust has formed on the bottom of each aebleskive, insert the skewer down into the batter close to the rim until it hits the side of the mold, then slide the aebleskive up about 1/3 of the way. If the slot was well oiled, the aebleskive will slide easily. If not, do not force it or you'll tear the crust. Instead, run the tip of the skewer around the inner side of the rim to separate the dough from the pan. The still fluid batter will flow into the freed area of the slot.
When a thin crust has formed again, use the skewer as before to slide each aebleskive up another 1/3 of the way. Again, the still fluid batter will flow into the empty area of the mold. Finally, use the skewer to roll each aebleskive forward so that the still crustless section is at the bottom. This ensures the aebleskive becomes a ball.
Turn the aebleskiver often to ensure even cooking without burning. It takes several minutes. Be patient and stay next to the pan. Adjust the heat if the pan becomes too hot and check for doneness with a toothpick: If it comes out clean, the aebleskive is ready. Transfer it to a plate.
Oil the empty molds and repeat until all the batter is used. Dust the aebleskiver with powdered sugar and serve with applesauce or fruit preserves.
Simona Carini also writes about her adventures in the kitchen on her blog www.pulcetta.com