In Sweden, there’s a century old tradition of eating pea soup with salted pork (and a side serving of punsch) and pancakes on Thursdays. It became tradition during the national romantic wave of the 1800’s when the high society took inspiration of the military food of the 1700’s. This was the last days of Sweden as a superpower, when a soup made from dried yellow peas and salted pork was a staple and the officers got a side serving of warm punsch, because anyone who could made sure to drink as much alcohol as possible.
Pancakes have a history going back to at least the 1500’s but they were probably of the form called “tjockpannkaka”, a thick pancake made from batter poured into a pan after salt pork has been fried. It’s not clear when thin pancakes became fashion, but they became a dessert to the pea soup on Thursdays to make the meal extra luxurious and fulfilling in order to provide nutrition during the fast on Fridays (even though Sweden was not Catholic it still observed the Friday fast in some form).
Peasoup and pancakes – but without the punsch – is still served in many homes, school kitchens, lunch cantinas and of course in the military on Thursdays. How you eat your pancake is up to you, I prefer to eat one or two rolled up savory pancakes with bacon and cheese before either spreading some butter and sugar or mixing whipped cream and applesauce on a couple more. There are many other variations to explore; ice cream, raspberries, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce and so on. Think of dessert and then just put it on a pancake. But the pancakes can also be eaten on their own. A classic quick bite when you’re out skiing or hiking is to spread some caster sugar and make rolls.
But the very best thing you can do with Swedish pancakes is actually when you have some leftovers. By chopping the pancakes and then frying them in butter and sugar you get glorious little caramelized pieces of pancake that works great as a brunch dish when you feel that you just don’t care about mixing fast carbs and fat.
I’ve tried and experimented in order to make a fancy plated brunch dish of the refried pancakes, but you know what? There’s no reason to complicate things. It’s just like eating doughnuts, the sugar, fat and fried dough triggers a primal response. You can also increase the amount of sugar to make them even crispier. My ultimate version is served with a little salt caramel sauce that removes some of the stinging sweetness when you need a break, but you can just serve them as they are as well.
Refried Swedish Pancakes with Salted Caramel Sauce
2 servings (40 minutes to prepare and cook)
- 2 dl wheat flour
- 2 eggs
- 4dl whole milk
- Add the flour to a large bowl. Crack one egg to the side and whisk in flour, little by little. When it’s almost saturated, add the other egg and do the same. Add 0.5 dl milk and continue with the same method until all flour has been incorporated (usually when 1 dl of the milk has been used) – this is to avoid getting lumps. Add the rest in one go and stir around. Season the batter with a little salt and sugar. Use the batter right away or let it rest for a couple of hours in a refrigerator.
- Pre-heat a frying pan at medium-high. Add a knob of butter spreading the fat and then add enough batter to just coat the bottom. Swirl around the batter using gravity, taking the pan off heat and swirling it from side to side. Take it back to the heat and let it sit until the topsite begins to look solid, take a peek to see how the bottom looks. If it’s nice and colored it’s time to flip using a spatula. Fry the other side until it looks similar.
- (Additional information) The two sides will get different types of patterns with the first one being much prettier, but the overall “doneness” should be the same. You’ll soon learn how much batter to use for each pancake, a big ladle or measuring cup make it easy to transfer the right amount of batter from the bowl to the pan or pans – using two or three pans speeds up the whole frying process a lot. If you want really crispy bits of pancake, take a reasonably generous amount of butter and the batter before it’s melted completely.
- Repeat making pancakes until you’re out of batter, adding butter between each pancake.
- 100g caster sugar
- 75g raw caster sugar
- 150ml double cream
- 50g butter
- 5 ml/3 solid pinches Maldon sea salt flakes
Salted caramel sauce
- Melt sugar by only swirling the pan over medium high heat.
- Once the sugar is amber and “done”, add the butter and stir with a wooden spoon. The caramel will buzz and spit, continue stirring until it’s almost incorporated. There’s quite a short span from where the sugar is melted and completely transparent to when it’s burnt, so pay attention here and work fast.
- Add the cream and continue to stir, once incorporated add the salt. If parts of the sugar solidifies, bring back the pan to medium-low heat. Adjust the salt level, make sure it doesn’t get too salt but balanced.
- Salted caramel sauce
- 3 cold Swedish pancakes
- 45 ml caster sugar
- 25 g butter
- Icing sugar
- Pre-heat a frying pan to medium heat. Chop the pancakes in 1×1 cm squares (0.5”x0.5”)
- Increase heat to medium-high and add the butter. Once the butter coats the pan, add the chopped pancakes.
- Add a third of the sugar, stir a little and then add the rest when it has dissolved.
- When all sugar has been dissolved and coats the pancakes, they are done. If you want crunchy pancake bits, continue add more sugar.
- Scoop salted caramel sauce to the middle of a plate. Use a ring mold to pack the pancakes into a cylinder shape. Dust a little icing sugar on top using a tea sieve or other fine sieve.