The Great Northern War – Part Deux

Editor’s note: here’s the second post in the republication of my 2-part series on poffertjes vs. aebleskiver!

Behold the contender: Aebleskiver (Danish Pancakes)!

Aebleskiver are little puffed pancakes often filled with a variety of delicious fillings. The recipe makes about 30 pancakes and I made 10 with milk chocolate ganache, 10 with blackberry jam (store-bought), and 10 plain.  (Get the original recipe from Williams-Sonoma, and mine here!)

These pancakes are delicious, but they were kind of a pain to make.  My biggest issues were with keeping the filling from leaking out of the pancakes and turning them.  Maybe I need a set of these?

(picture from http://jessicaburns.com/2011/11/aebleskivers/)

Probably not, though.  I think the keys to perfect aebleskiver are:

1. making sure you put enough butter in each well (see all that buttah?)

2. finding a good dough to filling ratio (which I did not excel at).
These look okay, but really in the bottom well and top-right well, there’s way too much jam. Those will eventually leak out, burn in the bottom of the well, and keep other aebleskiver from cooking properly in those wells until I can clean them out…
A few things to keep in mind are:
  • make sure you keep the fillings nice and cold – the warmer they are, the soupier they are, the more likely they’ll leak out of the pancakes and mess up the pan
  • use a swirling motion to fill the pan – when you 1st put the batter in, if you swirl from outside in, you’ll create a little well for the filling; then, when you cover the filling up, swirl from outside in again to create a filling-leak-proof pancake barrier
(this one came out nicely!)

I noticed that the batter looked really yellow in comparison to other pancake batters, I think because of the buttermilk.  I thought the plain pancakes were the best – the ganache ones may have been better with dark chocolate, and the jam ones were a bit too sweet for me.  The plain ones, though, were like the glorious child of fried dough and pancakes in bite-sized puffs.

I had the same pancake-testers try both the aebleskiver and poffertjes and they came out tied, so I guess I’m the official tie-breaker.  I’m struggling a little I think the poffertjes win the easier-prep battle, while the aebleskiver win the taste battle.  Ultimately, taste has got to win…

4.25 out of 5 stackies: 

The Great Northern War* – Part 1

Editor’s Note: Last week’s post made me start reminiscing about the first time I made aebleskiver so I decided to republish my first series on Northern European pancakes…yeah, that was a thing. Enjoy!

*So, technically the Great Northern War is already a thing…as in part of a series of wars fought in northern and northeastern Europe, but who’s really keeping track of those?  What I do keep track of is pancakes, so this will be the first in a two-part blog post comparing Dutch Poffertjes and Danish Aebleskiver – let the skirmish begin!

Poffertjes are basically baby buckwheat pancakes (get the original recipe here, and my converted one here!).  They’re a little smaller than a half-dollar, but bigger than a quarter and the recipe makes about 100.

There are some specialty tools you’ll need to make both these and the aebleskiver.  First, the pan:

This is actually an aebleskiver pan, but it’ll work for both types of pancakes.  I got mine from Amazon, I think it was $11.  Poffertjes pans are usually a lot bigger, with shallower (and many more) wells…something like this:

poffertjes pan

(picture from http://fantes.com/aebleskiver.html).  I just compensated by putting in less batter.

I guess you’re technically also supposed to have special sticks that help you turn the poffertjes, I just used chopsticks, and I saw a bunch of recipes that said to use knitting needles!

Lastly, a squirt bottle.  This made making 100 poffertjes sooo much easier, can you imagine ladling in batter 100 times? No thank you!

Also, if you don’t want to make your own batter, you can buy a mix.  I’ve never seen poffertjes mix in my grocery store, but apparently it exists.  The batter is pretty easy to put together, though, so I’m not sure if it’s worth the trouble to hunt down poffertjes mix.  Plus,  I got to work with buckwheat flour for the first time! (I felt very sophisticated checking out.)

The batter smells very nutty, and the pancakes have a really nice buckwheat taste – not too strong, but definitely present.  Poffertjes are traditionally served with powdered sugar and whipped butter, which make everything taste good, and these pancakes were definitely delicious.  Also, they were mini, and mini things just taste better, it’s science.

(close-up!)

The aebleskivers will have to be pretty delicious to beat these.  Tune in next week to see who triumphs!

4 out of 5 stackies: 

Æll Æbout Æbleskiver

Hey Fancakes!

So, I woke up with a totally different pancake plan than the recipe you’re getting. All week I’ve been thinking about chocolate chip pancakes with some sort of whipped peanut butter topping – right? I’m still excited to make those, but for some reason, when I got up, I just wanted something  salty.IMG_1611

There wasn’t too much in my fridge but I did find some green onions and parmesan cheese…so obviously I ended up making Parmesan Green Onion Aebleskiver! I’ve made aebleskiver (danish puff pancakes) a couple of times before, but they’ve always been sweet. As delicious as sweet aebleskiver are, I could feel it in my pancaking bones that savory aebleskiver would be just as good…I was right.

IMG_1606

The parmesan cheese makes the pancakes nice and salty while the green onions just hang out and do their green onion thang. In fact, these pancakes are sort of the hick cousins of gougeres (if you’ve never had a gougeres, your life is not complete. Thomas Keller’s gruyere gougeres complete my life) or just the regular pancake cousins of cheesy popovers. Either way, it’s hard to go wrong with parmesan and green onions. The texture of the aebleskiver are true to form, puffy and doughy but not too heavy. I think these would make excellent hors d’oeurves, maybe topped with a dollop of creme fraiche or some caviar for added fanciness.

3.75 out of 5 stackies: stackiestackiestackie.75

Ingredients:

(makes 8 aebleskivers)

3/4 C flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 egg + 1 egg white

1/4 C milk

1/4 C parmesan cheese

3 green onions, diced

butter for cooking

Directions:

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, egg, egg white, and milk. Stir in the parmesan cheese and green onions.

Put a small piece of butter in each well of your aebleskiver pan.

IMG_1607

Heat the pan over medium low heat until the butter has completely melted. Add 1 Tbs of batter to each well.

IMG_1608

Cook for 1-2 minutes. The aebleskivers should turn easily and the bottoms should be golden brown.

IMG_1609

(I turned the bottom 3 too early). Cook for another minute or so, until the other side is golden brown and the aebleskivers are cooked through. Cook the rest of the batter, adding butter as necessary to prevent the aebleskiver from sticking to the pan. Enjoy!

 

Off the Griddle with Ihopapotamus at…Cracker Barrel!

cracker barrel

This November, I decided to satisfy my craving for pancakes by visiting a staple for many of those who both travel and love breakfast – Cracker Barrel. For me, going to Cracker Barrel is always a rare treat because there aren’t any locations on Long Island, where I grew up. Imagine my joy in discovering, then, on a recent road trip to Connecticut, that Cracker Barrel and its all day, everyday breakfast are a mere three hours from home!

cb map

The East Windsor location is – as many Cracker Barrels are – tucked away in a parking lot next to a hotel, just off the highway. As soon as you pull in, you are greeted by the all-familiar rocking chair-lined porch leading up to the entryway. For those who have never been to a Cracker Barrel before – a problem that you need to rectify as soon as possible – every Cracker Barrel is set up virtually the same way. While it is easy to get distracted by the many adorable country-style gifts clustered cozily together at the front of the store, the avid pancake eater should take a sharp left diagonal from the entrance to reach the restaurant part of the store.

cb2

The restaurant area of Cracker Barrel is almost universally marked by super-friendly waiters and waitresses, a casual country atmosphere, an extensive menu with low prices for enormous portions of food, and really fast service. The East Windsor location was no exception. It is worth repeating that although Cracker Barrel does have delicious lunch and dinner options, its breakfast menu is served throughout the day, so you can get pancakes anytime the craving hits.

cb3

The menu has a variety of pancake options, from good ole buttermilk to pancakes served with a variety of fruit toppings, including apples, blackberries, and peaches. (All of these can also be easily and cheaply supplemented with your choice of meat, eggs, and/or fruit, if you’re looking for a complete pancake feast.) I went, however, for my favorite pancake on the menu: the wild blueberry pancake.

pancake

Unlike the fruit-topped varieties, the blueberry pancakes are loaded with blueberries inside and out. They are also served with a full mini-jar of blueberry syrup (about half of which is usually left over, which you can then take home with you) and a scoop of butter.

jam

East Windsor’s pancakes did not disappoint. Although they looked a little sloppier in appearance than usual, because of the way the batter had been poured, the taste was buttery and sweet. A unique thing about ordering these pancakes at this location as opposed to others that I have been to was that the glass bottle of blueberry syrup had been warmed, keeping the syrup hot as I (liberally) poured it over the pancakes. The scoop of butter that was slowly melting over the pancake as I ate it was good but almost too much, in light of the buttery taste of the pancake itself; I ended up setting most of the scoop aside. My order included two large pancakes, which was more than I could finish; despite my best efforts, much of the second pancake went uneaten.

All in all, I was extremely happy with the way East Windsor served up my old favorite. I highly recommend that if you have not given these a try, you be sure to include a Cracker Barrel stop on your next road trip, especially if you’re in the East Windsor area. And don’t forget that when you’re finished with that day’s pancake adventure, you can revisit the gift shop afterward for Cracker Barrel’s own line of ready-to-go pancake mixes and syrups to take the magic home!

4 out of 5 Paul Bunyans: Untitled1Untitled1Untitled1Untitled1

More like Panberries…amirite?

Cranberry Sauce + Pancakes = Panberries…just go with it.

I started thinking about what I should make today and with Thanksgiving right around the corner, I figured it would be good to have a recipe to help use up some leftovers!

IMG_1511

I decided to target the cranberry sauce and after a quick google search (original recipe from The Kitchn) and some tinkering, I came up with a pretty good recipe! On their own, the pancakes are slightly sweet and perfect for snacking. I made regular sized pancakes but if you made them as silver dollars, they would be perfect for some all day snackage.

IMG_1502

(thank goodness the cranberry sauce can came with directions…)

Texturally, the pancakes are pretty soft and fluffy. Not super fluffy because the cranberry sauce weighs it down a little, but still moderately fluffy. I think a handful of pecans or walnuts would’ve gone really well with the pancakes. I did make a little cranberry sauce reduction (or just fancied up the canned sauce) that I poured on top of the pancakes and it was delicious.

IMG_1507

I noticed a lot of the recipes I saw online used someone’s “mother’s famous sauce’ or “aunt betty’s crazy good cranberries” or something like that so I figured my pancakes could have some of that goodness on top. I simmered the leftover canned sauce,  fresh cranberries, some ginger powder, a splash of maple syrup, and orange and lemon juices while I was cooking the pancakes and let it cool and thicken and it was DELICIOUS. I think I inadvertently invented my new go to cranberry sauce…go me.

IMG_1503

If that doesn’t say Thanksgiving to you, I don’t know what does.😉 Just remember, I made these pancakes with plain old canned grocery store cranberry sauce and the pancakes were really good, so if you have any leftover artisinal or homemade sauce, I’m sure these pancakes could only be even better!

3.75 out of 5 stackies: stackiestackiestackie.75

Ingredients:

1/2 C flour

pinch coarse salt

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/3 C cranberry sauce

1 egg white

1/2 C milk

1/4 tsp vanilla

1/2 Tbs melted butter

zest of 1 lemon

Directions:

(makes 4 pancakes)

Whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder. Stir in the egg, milk, vanilla, butter, and zest.

IMG_1501

Stir in the cranberry sauce. It doesn’t need to be perfectly blended in.

IMG_1504

Heat a nonstick pan over medium low heat. Melt a little bit of butter in the pan and cook a scant 1/3 C batter at a time. Cook for about 2 minutes.

IMG_1506

Flip and cook for another 2 minutes.

IMG_1505

Top with extra cranberry sauce, maple syrup, or nuts. Enjoy!

 

Sesame Street!

Hey hey Fancakes!

This past weekend I went with a few of my friends for dinner at a Japanese restaurant. Everything we got was delicious but what stuck with my tastebuds was a black sesame ice cream dessert. I love black sesame. Really, I love everything sesame so it’s no surprise that once I got a taste of that sesame goodness, I just kept wanting more. And that is why, this week, I basically had not choice but to make Sesame Crepes! (original recipe from food and punch)

IMG_1488

A quick note on the recipe before I dive into the flavor profile. The original recipe calls for rice flour, but I just don’t think that rice flour makes for good crepes – it makes the crepes more prone to cracking (you can see in the picture that the crepes are breaking a bit). Anyway, that’s why my recipe calls for regular flour but feel free to experiment with whatever flours you like.

IMG_1482

Flavor-wise, the sesame flavor is subtle, but definitely there, and, since they get mixed into the batter and sprinkled onto the crepes, there’s definitely a nice crunch to the crepes. On their own, the crepes are lightly sweet, and the orange blossom water comes through just a bit. With the extra honey and lemon, these crepes are the perfect snack – I’m definitely making them again!

3.5 out of 5 stackies: stackiestackiestackie .5

Ingredients:

(makes 8 crepes)

1/2 C flour

1 egg

1 1/2 Tbs sugar

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 C milk

1/2 T butter, melted

1 tsp orange blossom water (or vanilla)

1 Tbs sesame seeds + more for sprinkling

honey

lemon

Directions:

Sift together the flour, salt, and sugar. Whisk in the butter, milk, egg, and orange blossom water until you get a very smooth batter. Stir in the sesame seeds.

IMG_1483

Cover the batter with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap touches the surface of the batter and put the batter in the fridge for at least 1/2 an hour.

IMG_1484

Lightly butter a nonstick pan and set it over medium heat. Giving the batter a quick stir, cook 2 Tbs of batter at a time. Swirl the batter around the pan so that you get a very thin crepe. Sprinkle a few sesame seeds on top of the crepe before it dries. Cook for about 2 minutes until the edges are crispy.

IMG_1485

Flip and cook for another minute or so.

IMG_1486

Continue to cook the crepes, stacking them up on a plate as you go. The residual heat will keep them nice and pliable.

IMG_1487

When you’re through cooking, fold them into quarters, and sprinkle them with honey and lemon juice.

Quince, Rhymes with Prince!

Hey Fancakes,

Sorry for the late post! I had some old friends from college come visit me this weekend (both of whom are ihopapotami!) and the pancaking got a bit delayed. In any case, I wasn’t sure what to do this week until I remembered that my other friend (also an ihopapotami…basically if we’re friends, I’m making you do a pancake review) had given me some quince from her CSA! I’ve never cooked with quince but they smelled delicious so I figured it wouldn’t be too hard to find a good recipe.

IMG_1476 - Copy

I did a fair bit of research and everything I read was basically true – quince smell delicious, they’re almost impossible to eat raw (just very tart and dry), but after you cook them, they turn into this beautiful shade of pink and taste like a magical apple-pear hybrid. MAGICAL.

(photo from flowerona.com) These flowers, btw, they’re quince blossoms! I think they’re my new favorite – I’ve never seen them in person but if the google image search can be trusted, they’re all stunning.

Right, so after a quick search, I found this recipe from Saveur for Quince Pancakes that I followed exactly (except for making a half recipe). Besides the whole poach the quince part, the recipe is really quick to put together. And, even though the poaching takes a bit of time, you don’t need to babysit the quince – I watched an episode of Gilmore Girls while the quince was simmering away.

IMG_1478 (1) - Copy

Flavor-wise the pancakes were pretty good. There’s a light sweetness and then just the right bit of acidity from the quince. In addition to the apple-pear flavor, I thought that the quince had a little bit of apricoty-citrusness. Definitely use the powdered sugar, the extra sweetness on top really brings out the tartness of the quince.

Texturally, the pancakes are pretty soft – the pancakes are really fluffy but also burn easily. If you’re worried about your pancaking powers, I would recommend making slightly smaller pancakes so you can control the cook time and temperature better.

Overall, I’m definitely glad I tried these pancakes, if for no other reason than I got to use quince. I might have to join a CSA myself just so I can get weird/new vegetables and fruit for me to make pancakes out of.

3.5 out of 5 stackies: stackiestackiestackie .5

Ingredients:

(makes 5 pancakes)

1 quince, peeled, cored, and diced into chunks

2 Tbs sugar

3/4 C milk

1 T butter, melted (+ more for cooking)

1 small egg

1/2 C flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

powdered sugar

Directions:

Cook your chunked quince, sugar, and 1/4 C water over low heat for about half an hour. The quince will get very soft and the liquid will be almost done. Transfer the quince to a food processor and puree for just a few seconds (you want some chunks to remain). You could also use a potato masher if you want even chunkier quince! After the quince has cooled, whisk in the milk, melted butter, and egg. Sift in the flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, and salt.

IMG_1472 - Copy

Stir until just combined. The batter will be a very very light yellow – almost like a suuuper creamy corn chowder.

Heat a nonstick pan over medium low heat. Melt a sliver of butter (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan). Cook 1/3 C batter at a time.

IMG_1474

Cook for about 2-3 minutes, until the bottom is fully cooked, and the edges look a little dry. Flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

IMG_1475 - Copy

Top with powdered sugar and enjoy!