(…or maybe it is just a cultural mutt, like so many of us?)
I like to make connections in food preparation. It is the anthropologist in me. I am not satisfied just eating a deliciously prepared recipe. If it is unique, even if it is a common staple, I want to understand its origins, how it evolved and what makes it shine and how to make it gluten free! Every food has its own history, its own story of conception and origin. That is why I love historic recipes. I like to think about the first person who paired certain available ingredients and created what today remains a staple classic.
Learning about where a food comes from, tells you a lot about that place – what resources were common and available, how people prepared meals and in what vessels, what kind of crops or foods were in their environment? This is the kind of thing that endlessly fascinates me and takes me on my own culinary journey. This is why I am always saying you can learn so much about your ancestry by the foods of that culture – they are just a window to the rest of it.
By now, if you are a regular reader of this blog, you know about my love for pancakes and how they are a Sunday morning tradition on the homestead. You know the whole history, how I never liked them growing up, fell in love with crepes and other thin pancakes, struggled with gluten free pancake making etc. So although I have many pancake recipes that I love to make every week, I am always looking for other pancake recipes. I just can’t help myself!
I have come across a wonderful type of pancake recently – like a cake that you make in a cast iron pan (imagine that! Pan Cake) yet I have heard them referred to in several different ways: Dutch, Finnish and German. But as far as I can see, they all have the same basic recipe, flour milk and lots of eggs. So which is it? How did they get these very specific place names?
Wikipedia says the Dutch Baby and German Pancake are one in the same, and similar to a Yorkshire Pudding. The recipe derived from the German Apfelpfannkuchen – a type of apple pancake. It then goes on to say that the moniker Dutch Baby comes from the Pennsylvania Dutch, German-American immigrants, where “Dutch” is a corruption of the German Deutsch.
The Finnish Pancake, called Pannukakku in Finnish, has considerably less information about its origin. One blog post claims that what makes it Finnish is “that they are pancaked in the oven rather than the stove top”. Yet, we know that the Dutch/German version is also baked in the oven. So not really accurate, nor enough of an origin story for me. So I searched and searched and could not find any clarifying information and there is not much history between the two countries before the Second World War that I can discover in a quick search – any Finnish readers of my blog know more?
Regardless, these pancakes are really delicious – I especially liked its almost custard-like texture. When I made one for us a few Sundays ago, I topped it with sautéed apples and dusted it with powdered maple sugar, as a nod to the Apfelpfannkuchen. In Finland they are typically topped with berries and whipped cream and served around the summer solstice. So you still have some time to play with recipes and toppings before then!
(puffy right out of the oven)
As a basic recipe, I recommend Kelly’s from The Spunky Coconut, it is the one I used and it works perfectly, even though it isn’t totally traditional, it is gluten, grain and dairy free and the result looks just like all the other ones out there. If you would rather use milk instead of coconut milk, it should work just as well. The only thing I changed from Kelly’s recipe is that I used honey instead of stevia (I think I used about 2 TBS). This pancake puffs up in the oven, and then falls. If this happens, don’t worry, it is supposed to! Enjoy some this weekend!