Aebleskivers/Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

I love Twitter for maybe 50 or 60 different reasons and this post resulted from one of them. A year ago, Donna was poking around in an antique store, bought the above pan for no explainable reason and put it in the basement where it sat untouched for, well, a year. The other day, looking for something to shoot an egg in, she brought it upstairs along with a few other props. The cups are about twenty-five percent bigger than the fattest part of a large egg and it didn’t work as a prop. I’m sure I said something annoying like, “You bought that,” as in paid cash money for something we can keep in the basement for a year? Then I said, “I mean, what is it.” She said something along the lines of “I don’t know” and carried on with whatever she was shooting.

I took an iphoto of the pan and asked Twitter, which has yet to not offer up at least one correct answer: “an æbleskiver pan,” many tweeted, to make Danish pancakes. Most people said they had stovetop æbleskiver pans. I’ll say that again.  MOST people, have STOVETOP æbleskiver pans. Which left me wondering how MOST people had even heard the WORD æbleskiver, let alone knew what they WERE, let alone had PANS to cook them with.

I gotta get out more.

I immediately emailed my Aunt Nancy, mom’s sister in Charlotte, NC, who married a Dane. She showed Lars the picture and he said, he’d never seen an æbleskiver pan like that before. But she confirmed, that’s what it looked like to them, too.  A search on amazon: yep, of course, we sell an æbleskiver pan, who DOESN’T sell an æbleskiver pan? Want a bunch of æbleskiver recipes, here’s the book! You don’t have it?!

Nancy sent me her recipe for what I now know to be lovely little cakes. I’m partial to an oven æbleskiver pan, not those sketchy stovetop models. Oven deals you don’t require you to turn the cakes. For the stovetop version, you’ve got to turn them, and I don’t have any knitting needles, which is what Danish people use to turn them with.

These frankly are some of the best little cakes I’ve had. In Denmark, it’s tradition to have æbleskivers before Christmas with gløgg. What a lovely idea. They’re also a great cake for a Sunday morning treat with coffee and The New York Times.

What distinguishes these pan cakes is that they’re made like a proper cake: whipped egg whites are folded into the yolk-milk-buttermilk mix. They’re sweetened, just a little, not too much. You can bake this batter on your stovetop æbleskiver pan, or in the oven version your wife bought last year to keep in the basement. Or you could put them in muffin molds. They won’t have the traditional cute dome shape, but that won’t matter if you aren’t having Danish friends over and try to claim that they’re æbleskivers; of course, because the word is just fun to say, DO tell your Danish friends that these are the American version and everyone can have a good chuckle—æbleskivers!

It should be an all-purpose exclamation.  Like when you’re halfway to the grocery store and realize you forgot the shopping list: æbleskivers!

Anyway, they’re delicious. Thanks for the recipe, Nancy (her comment: “There are lots of different recipes for these but this one always works for me”). Hers made 3 dozen and we were just a few, so while I kept the egg amount the same, I halved everything else. Cakes love egg, so I figured it would work. And it did. (I mixed the batter in one 1-quart measuring cup, and whipped the whites in another one—worked great, for light fluffy cakes).

Aebelskivers

  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • zest from one lemon
  • 6 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • powdered sugar as needed
  1. If you’re using a baking pan, preheat your oven to 375˚ F./190˚ C.
  2. In a medium bowl mix the egg yolks with the buttermilk, milk, sugar and vanilla together.  Stir in the flour, baking powder and lemon zest, until just combined.
  3. Using a handblender or a 5 quart standing mixer with a whip attachment or a whisk and a bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff.  Fold the egg whites into the flour/egg yolk mixture.
  4. Pour a teaspoon of melted butter into each cup of the aebelskiver pan.  Pour or scoop the batter into the aebelskivers pan to the top of the cup.
  5. Put the pan into the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until cooked through. If you’re using a stove top pan, cook for 5 minutes or so on medium heat then turn the cakes with a knitting needle or skewer to cook the top, another 3 to 4 minutes or until cooked through after they are flipped.
  6. When the abelskivers are done baking, remove them from the pan, dust with powdered sugar and eat them while they’re warm (with glogg if you have it!).

Makes 18 aebelskivers

If you liked this post on Aebelskivers, check out these other links:

© 2011 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2012 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved

 

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97 Wonderful responses to “Aebleskivers—Danish Pan Cakes”

  • Barbara | Creative Culinary

    Last year a friend on Twitter shared a recipe for these; answering for me the question I had for years ‘What the heck is this pan that was left to me by Grandma?’ Mine is also an oven version. Some spell it differently too as in ebelskivers.

  • Tags

    Now I know why I try to never miss a day on Ruhlman.com – now all I need is a word to rhyme with æbleskivers.

  • Jeffrey

    My family recipe has cardamom. Like anyone needs an excuse to use cardamom, though. Delicious.

  • Skip

    Michael, I make aebleskivers five or six times a year. I do the stovetop version where you can get them going, put a dollop of jam then put a little more batter on top, let it cook a bit then turn with wooden skewers. You can put cheese inside instead of the jam for a savory appetizer version.

  • Steve in Canton

    It is funny that you posted this today, my grandmother died 8 years ago today and used to make us aebleskivers every Sunday morning. It is a tradition for my family to make these on her birthday and I had just got done eating mine when I read your post.

  • Pat

    My Danish grandmother put blueberry or raspberry jam inside hers. But I think lemon curd is the best filling – heavenly!

  • Pastry Chef Suzy

    Didn’t Shopsin’s in NYC used to make aebleskivers? I seem to recall a great scene in the phenomenal doc “I Like to Kill Flies” in which he explains that the keys to success are: a little puddle of clarified butter in the bottom of the hot pan (like a Yorkshire pudding), and a pair of chopsticks to turn them. Hmmm…I’m looking at the new Shopsin’s men though, and I can’t seem to find them anymore…

  • Lisa @ GF Canteen

    I’m not too embarrassed to say I’d no idea what they were until right before last Hanukkah when I was hunting for a round donut hole pan for making GF Hanukkah jelly donuts – called sufganiyah (frying was not an option). Someone said aebleskiver and I had to look it up. And so that is how the Danes helped a girl make GF Hanukkah jelly donuts – aebleskivers posing as GF sufganiyot, stuffed with jelly and covered in powdered sugar. It was a congregation of nations to make it all work out so well. Now I’m a big fan of the awesome little aebleskiver.

  • Chris

    I recently found a post about sausage-stuffed ebelskiver, made with almond flour (http://realsustenance.com/grain-free-sausage-stuffed-pancake-bites/). Really piqued my interest because my daughter just started a medically prescribed, high-fat/low-carb, grain-free, sugar-free diet to control her seizures and I’m trying to find diet-compliant recipes she’ll enjoy. Order a pan (from Amazon, natch), and made what were basically “pigs in blanket,” Scandinavian-style. Both my kids loved them!

    Then I decided to revise a recipe for deep-fried shrimp fritters that she used to love (but were made with now-forbidden flour). Again, I used almond flour (and nixed the corn called for in the original recipe), and created seven mini deep fryers by putting a generous teaspoon in each of the pan’s cups. Another hit!

    I’ve also made grain-free blueberry pancakes, liverwurst meatballs, fried cheddar cheese in bacon fat (OMG!), and am trying to figure out how to make a pudding-filled puff. Truly, a versatile little pan!

    By the way, the stove-top pan I bought came with a little booklet of recipes, a heat-proof mitt for the handle, and a couple dozen wooden skewers for turning the puffs, which is not all that tricky once you get the hang of it–you just have to let the puffs cook thoroughly before turning. I have found a measuring spoon works pretty well, too.

  • Dorian

    I have my Danish Grandmother’s round stove-top pan gathering dust in the garage. You’ve inspired me to use it, perhaps on St. Patrick’s Day. It could be a cross-cultural celebration.

  • Deanna B.

    I’m going to add this to my rotation of kid friendly exclamations. And I will be making the American hybrid recipes because I can not justify buying yet another pan.

  • Chappy

    As someone married to a Dane (and with a stovetop pan) this is an awesome post. However, I must point out the most egregious omission of the post (and recipe). Where are the apples?! The word aebleskiver actually means ‘apple slices’ and is a typical/traditional ingredient. Anyway, this recipe seems like both a legitimate and delicious variation, but I just thought the etymology was interesting.

  • Karen J

    As a former “donut” baker (yeah, that place) I used to use regular dowels from a craft store to flip them. Seems that should work here too. An added plus is that you can use them like drumsticks while waiting for the æbleskivers to cook and belt out all your favorite tunes.

  • Daniel

    I might not have knitting needles either, but chopsticks? Those I have!

  • Kelly M

    Never seen them made in the oven before. We had these for dinner every time my dad was away on business. I’ve used my pan for what we call “oysterskivers”. Butter in the bottom, a bit of garlic and add a shucked oyster. Tastes as though you put them on the grill in their own shell. A bit of Tabasco and you’re set!

  • Marieke

    These look a lot like poffertjes, awesome little puffy pancakes you buy from street vendors in Holland with a bit of powdered sugar on top. Google them and you’ll see the resemblance!

  • karen downie makley

    i usually think, “pfff. whatever.” whenever anyone posts an obscure homespun european recipe…but i can practically taste these infused with an abundance of cheese and scallions, savory-style. maybe that ruins the idea for the purists, but come on, sometimes you just need a cheesy puff of pancake delight.

  • Maria

    What a great story, lovely to read! I’m Swedish and my husband is half-Swedish/half-Danish and he ate them when he was younger an lived in Denmark. The funny thing is I hadn’t heard about æbleskivers until we moved to San Francisco 18 months ago, they are in all kitchenware stores an my husband told me about it. We went to the little Danish town Solvang near Santa Barbara in central California and ate them there. That little town is like being in Denmark!

  • Adam

    I had a college friend whose Danish family introduced me to Aebelskiver. It was so much fun to make them that I went out and bought a pan (one of the many the joys of living in the Scandinavian haven of the Twin Cities). On the stovetop, we poured batter into each of the molds, then used a wooden skewer to begin turning the cake to create a hollow sphere. Once we got good enough to make the spheres, then we began adding different types of preserves to the center. It took a delicate touch, but it was really a lot of fun.

    Guess it’s time to pull out the pan again.

  • luanda

    There was a recipe for Aebelskivers in Sunday’s Parade magazine.

  • Joey

    The williams sonoma book has all sorts of good ideas for fillings. We tried many of them over Christmas. Nutella is divine, and so is the pear-blue-cheese. We tried prosiutto with fig jam, pumkin butter and pecans … so many options, they were all really delicious. You can fill them with anything, really.

  • Stewart Putney

    These are a great dish. My mother-in-law used to make these. We loved them, but somehow we didi not make the dish ourselves. We will be making these for the kids this weekend.

  • Gayle

    I bought one of these for a dear friend as a wedding gift. I saw them on the registry and said “If it’s a unitasker they want, then an unitasker they shall get!” The friend didn’t know what it was but his wife told him they *had to* have it. About a month after the wedding I got a phone call to accompany the thank you note where they both told me it was their hands-down favorite present ever and they make them every weekend. Months and months after *that* I visited them and they made æbleskivers an they are in fact some of the best things ever.
    I have conceded on the unitasker thing, at least in this case.

  • NMissC

    I have one of these, in cast iron, that belonged to my grandmother’s grandmother in Middle-Tennessee, circa 1870s. It has always been used for making cornmeal muffins, little round ones; it does a wonderful job for that. Highly recommended if you like cornbread.

    I’ve wanted to by another for years, because I wanted my kids to have them without having to wait for me to die.

  • ngm

    Ah yes…the standard 8-6-4-3 liquid-to-egg-to-flour-to-fat æbleskiver master ratio.

  • Nell Lancaster

    How are aebelskivers different from popovers? I’m not being snarky, but seriously asking.

  • LunaCafe

    Love the pan, Michael! Your ebelskivers look so light and fluffy. Can’t wait to try your formula. Also, thanks for the shout out, very kind. …Susan

  • Saffoula

    If you want to try them without making them, there usually is an ebelskiver stand at the Fremont Sunday Market in Seattle and they have a panoply of yummy fillings to try.

  • Karin

    The Dutch version is called a “poffertjespan” and you bake “poffertjes” in it. In the Netherlands you can buy them at special stalls on the street and at fairs. The home version of a poffertjespan is small and round, at fairs they can be very big and square. The better quality ones are made of cast iron.

    To make them:
    500 grams all purpose flour or 250 gr buckwheat and 250 gr flour
    15 gr. fresh yeast
    2eggs
    7 dl. milk
    salt
    30 gr. melted butter
    lemon peel, grated
    Make a batter and leave it to rise.
    Heat the pan on a medium heat. Coat with some neutral oil. Fill up the cups of the pan (a squeeze bottle is very helpful here) and bake them like you would pancakes. Use a fork to turn them and bake the other site. Traditionally they are served with a knob of butter and powdered sugar but nowadays they come with all sorts of toppings.

    for the non home made version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YK0Eg7D1YBc

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    If that pan has “GRISWOLD” (or to a lesser degree “WAGNER”) on the bottom, it was quite the find by your wife and probably worth a great deal more money than she paid for it.

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