Now before my fellow male bloggers out there get too excited, this post has nothing to do with beautiful Swedish women…but please keep reading on.
The staff here at Baking in Oregon, all one of us, are descendents of a number of fine European countries. However, Mr. Baking in Oregon is a full ¼ Swedish – my grandmother was born there and emigrated to the US as a child. She, along with my great aunts and uncle and my great-grandparents, brought with them some of the traditions and recipes from the homeland. Unfortunately, as time has passed and they have all now gone on to a better place, much of these old traditions have been lost.
Growing up, I remember having a treat only once in a great while that I stopped experiencing when my grandmother passed away when I was 15. That treat (besides her fabulous apple pie) was Swedish Hotcakes. If you aren’t familiar with them, Swedish Hotcakes are the Swedish version of the crepe or any other thin pancake you may find around the world. As one of the most common foods found around the world, there are many different types, but they are all common in one thing – they are really thin.
In Sweden, they are typically eaten with Lingonberries. For us, we would roll them up with butter and syrup, butter and a sprinkling of sugar. We always loved having these at my grandparent’s house, but after my grandmother passed away, no one carried on that tradition.
Fast forward 10 years. Mr. Baking in Oregon invited a young lady to become Mrs. Baking in Oregon. Wouldn’t you know it, Mrs. Baking in Oregon also had some Swedish ancestry. And guess what? Her family also ate Swedish Hotcakes, and they still had the recipe (which turned out, I discovered later to be identical to ours), but even they had not really had them in quite a long time.
Enough was enough. This tradition had to be revived. The recipe itself is a very simple mixture of eggs, flour, sugar, milk and salt. There’s not much that can go wrong, or is there? As it turns out, that simple little blend of ingredients expects to be cooked in a very specific way or it will refuse to give you the results you expect. If you’ve ever watched a cooking show where crepes or something similar are made, you’ve undoubtedly seen the likes of Bobby Flay or others attempting to make their first one – and it usually doesn’t come out very pretty. It seems like it would be easy, and it is, once you know what you’re doing.
After many batches, both failed and successful, I’ve managed to get this down to a near science. I was told once that I should always expect to throw out the first hotcake as the first one just never turns out properly. That’s not acceptable. If I’m going through the trouble of making these (a time consuming process), I’m not throwing any of that wonderful deliciousness away!
Let me start by saying this, patience is a virtue when making these hotcakes. Also a virtue is commitment and focus. If you can’t spend your time watching over these through the entire process without getting distracted, you will be disappointed with the results. The whole process is remarkably simple, but turn your back for more than a moment and you may be tossing your work of art in the trash.
Here are the secrets I’ve discovered to making successful Swedish Hotcakes (or crepes, for that matter). First use the proper pan. Pretty much any 10″ pan with a flat bottom and curved sides will work. I use an actual crepe pan by Calphalon. Nonstick is a plus and will make your life much easier. Always, always, always pre-heat your pan for at least 10 minutes before making your first hotcake. After many years of making these and more hotcakes than I can count, this one step made more difference in how the first hotcake turned out than anything. I discovered it by mistake when I was making them one day and forgot I had turned on the burner before I was ready. When I went to make the first one, it turned out great. What happened? I always lost the first one. When I realized what I’d done, I tried it again, same results. Now I do it every time, and I’ve never lost a first hotcake since. Next, don’t use too much batter. For a 10″ skillet, about 1/4 cup of batter is the right amount. If you want or need them to be thicker, bump it up to 1/3, just know that the thicker you make them, the harder to cook them without becoming rubbery. Finally, don’t leave them. They need you. You need them. Every time I walk away from my hotcakes for even a minute, they end up being overdone. Just like making risotto properly requires you to stir through the whole process, plan on planting yourself at the stove until you’re done. This reward requires commitment people.
As for serving, well, that’s entirely up to you. There are so many options, a few of which I’ve already mentioned. For the purpose of this entry, I whipped up a batch of Blueberry Topping as well as a Creamy Ricotta/Cream Cheese filling to fancify these up a bit. Do what you want, you can even try something savory if you like.
For our family, this is a treat we enjoy only a couple of times a year, which keeps them special. Now that I have a young daughter, I will pass this fun little tradition on to her in the hopes that she will pass it along to her children and so on and so on.
If you have an old family recipe or tradition that’s fallen by the wayside, why not try and revive it? After all, it wouldn’t have been a tradition if people didn’t enjoy it in the first place – you may not know what you’re missing.