Whaaat?! Yes. And wait until you’ve tried it. This is based on a recipe from my friend Massi, a Finn currently living, working, cooking and blogging in Denmark. Alex (my husband slash sous-chef) and I went to visit her and our beloved circle of Danish friends two weeks ago. As you can easily imagine, being friends of ours, they all live on the food-loving and high-carb side of life. And so, after days of mouthwatering roast chicken & root veggies with tsatsiki, dazzling honeycomb, sumptuous cheese fondue with homemade bread, the carniporn extravaganza that goes by the illustrious name Stegt Flæsk med Persillesovs and the most amazing pizza (turns out: you have to travel north), it seemed only appropriate to have something substantial for our 9 hour-car ride home.
It is funny how, even though I conceive of friends my age as regular young, busy professional grown-ups (just like myself I guess), when I see them standing in the kitchen, making me something to eat, I feel child-like and taken care of in the best way imaginable. Seeing Massi stir up the Pannukakku batter from an unpretentious array of white powders, eggs, milk and melted butter had the additional charm of reminding me so much of the simple treats my mother used to make for us when I was little. She would make semolina pudding with handfuls of raisins, which my sister and I would joyously feast on, sitting on the staircase to our upstairs bedrooms, keeping a cease-fire for the duration of this shared moment of pleasure. It is those humble and homely memories and dishes that I go back to when I need soul-warming, which is usually in times of chaos.
The beauty of this lies in its unapologetic simplicity and straightforwardness. Pannukakku is basically a Finnish version of a pancake that differs from your (and my) regular pancake in two main points: 1. it is not cooked in a pan but in the oven, 2. it is considerably thicker than even the thickest pancake you have ever made. Thicker in this case translates to spectacularly and desirably squidgy like baked custard. The ingredients are the same, depending on your pancake routine, except for some baking powder and a rather generous helping of melted butter. That’s it. Whaaat?! Yes.
I seem to be someone who can never leave a recipe untouched and always has to manically fiddle about with it by adding spices or leaving out things or switching it around altogether – just because from the moment I hear or see something to eat, my brain just keeps on producing variations of it. At the same time, I think this is a terrible terrible habit. The solution: I am always trying to find reasonable excuses to tweak recipes. Like this one: on the cute-iful piece of stationery on which Massi wrote down the recipe, there is a little bear who seems very happy about having two red apples. So, technically speaking, they are in the recipe. And consequently, they are in my Pannukakku (the ominous “Omena”). Two crimson and slightly tart apples are really nice with the vanilla egginess of the Pannukakku.
Pannukakku, with apples or without, are great straight out of the oven or slightly cooled (they are still great one day after, but not two). Just top with caramel or maple syrup and a generous dollop of whipped cream and apply to face.
Finnish Pannukakku with Apples
Active time: 10 minutes, resting (optional): 20 minutes, baking: 30-60 minutes (depending on your oven – see below)
4 dl (about 370 g) flour
1.5 dl (about 190 g) caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tsp vanilla sugar
8 dl whole milk
100 g sweet cream butter (melted)
2 red apples (optional)
1 Mix the dry ingredients (except the baking powder) in a bowl. Add eggs, milk and butter and beat until smooth. Let the mixture stand while you get on with the apples. If you don’t add apples to your Pannukakku, give the batter some time to develop the gluten. Preheat the oven to 200°C top and bottom heat.
2 Peel (I didn’t since their color was so purrrr-etty), core and chop the apples, dress them in a tbsp of brown sugar and a dash of lemon juice if you want to. Add the baking powder to the batter and give it a quick stir. Pour the batter in a baking tray lined with parchment and strew (or artfully adorn) with the apples. Bake on the middle shelf until the surface is golden brown and hilly, “like a Moominvalley”, as Massi would say. With the baking time, it’s all about your oven, really. I baked mine for 40 minutes.