Welcome to a special Challenge Edition of “The Dad Cooks.” The Wife had promised the kids (and herself) Swedish pancakes for breakfast. However, seeing as how she was up a lot in the night, I’ve decided to let her sleep and tackle these foreign confections myself. Realizing right away how this could be good grist for the ol’ blog, I made sure to take lots of pictures.
The first step is to get the coffee started. Once that’s going, search around for the cookbooks. Having determined that it would likely cause a fatal blow to your organization system to pull them out from under the stack of papers and junk, do a web search for “swedish pancake recipe.”
I’m not going to embarrass the site I got my recipe from by naming them — I’m sure anything you come up with will be similar enough for this guide to assist you. It probably tells you that prep time is 5 minutes and cooking time is 20 minutes, or sometime similar. This is a big, fat lie but doesn’t mean that the rest of the recipe isn’t going to work out.
The Wife tells me that cooking is an art but baking is a science. I believe this means that when cooking, it’s okay to improvise, but when baking it is very important to follow the recipe and directions exactly right. I’ve heard that the only difference between cookie dough and homemade modeling clay is whether it was the Wife or I who was in the kitchen. So whatever your particular recipe tells you, it’s probably best to follow it to the letter. That said…
Get half a stick of butter melting on the skillet while you mix the rest of the batter. Set the other half of the stick aside for later. The directions on the recipe call for combining the ingredients with a blender. Since the coffee is at best still brewing, and a blender requires rummaging around in the cabinet, plugging something in, and then making a lot of noise, you can just mix it all by hand.
Combine your flour, melted butter, milk, eggs, and vanilla. When it is time to add the salt, you will find it isn’t in the place where it is normally kept, nor in that other place where it usually ends up if it isn’t where it’s supposed to be. It’s important to remember that you aren’t crazy; you definitely aren’t out of salt, it’s around here somewhere. If you haven’t located it after about two minutes, though, it’s time to improvise. Avoid using the chunky sea salt you did manage to find — the size of the salt pieces does apparently matter to baking science. A good solution if your measuring spoon is slender enough is to crack open the salt shaker and pilfer your fraction of a teaspoon from there.
The recipe calls for the ingredients to be blended until smooth. Since we’re doing the blending by hand, just keep at it until someone in the household starts to cry — either your children because they are hungry or you because your elbow is about to fall off. The next step instructs you to heat your skillet up again “until a drop of water bounces and sizzles.” I don’t know what the hell that means, so just put a quarter of your remaining butter on the skillet and it’ll be fine by the time that’s melted.
Now it’s time to make the pancakes! First, call up your old Calculus teacher and ask them if the recipe calls for 1/3 cup of batter to be used for a 10-inch skillet, how many cups of batter should you use for your 8-inch skillet? Once you’ve gotten the answer and verified that your old Geometry teacher would probably be a better person to call in the future, pour one pancake’s worth of batter into the skillet. The directions specify that you should cook it until it sets, then flip it over and cook the other side until it is golden brown.
At this point in the pancake-making process, whether said pancakes are Swedish or not, you can throw the recipe out the window. Each individual pancake becomes its own unique challenge as the variables constantly change. Whether you used a bit too much or too little batter, if this is the first pancake and the skillet is still heating up or a later one and it’s now a little hotter, if you’ve just put down more butter or are cooking this one in the butter left over from the previous pancake, if the skillet is pristine or littered with the debris of earlier pancakes — all these factors come into play and alter how the current pancake will cook. Just keep chasing that Platonic ideal of Swedish pancakeness until your tears of frustration bounce and sizzle in the pan.
Then sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with fruit or syrup.
The Wife prefers lingonberries on hers, which is why we stocked up on the stuff a while back. This morning’s breakfast will deplete the supply, I’m afraid. Worse, the kids declared that they don’t like the stuff and want to eat their pancakes plain (which means “with butter and more powdered sugar”), so some of it got wasted. But I’m happy to say that I beat the breakfast challenge and am able to serve the Wife Swedish pancakes with lingonberries in bed.