I’m pretty sure the events of late combined with the upcoming holidays have gotten me thinking about family a lot these past few days. About loved ones we’ve lost over the years. About how our connection to those people and our past can be held onto … so often through the food we share.
So, like I said, I got to thinking about my family. My mom’s dad died when she was two years old.
His name was George. He was half German and half Danish. Six foot three. Dark blonde hair and green eyes. And if I could get myself to our storage unit, and have about half a day to sort through the boxes and boxes of stuff there, I would have a wonderful photo to share with you, but alas … I haven’t been able to do that recently. So you’ll just have to imagine the playful smile in his eyes, and the jaunty smile on his face.
He was in the Navy during WW2 and his ship, The USS Twiggs, was attacked by kamikaze fighters. He was trapped in the engine room. Reports back from a few survivors tell us he died a hero … fighting the fires and making it possible for more than 100 men to escape.
I don’t know why, but I’ve always had a deep connection with this man I’ve never met.
And if I ponder too long, I get sad that I didn’t have an opportunity to know him.
So to make up for that, I’ve created an affinity in my heart for Danish and German food and culture. I appreciate a good gherkin. I love a well-done smorgasbord (which, in Denmark is known as a “koldt bord”). And my favorite breakfast of all time (next to the egg taco) is a cold musli with homemade yogurt and honey.
One day, I’ll learn how to make Æbleskiver … which is sort of like a combination pancake-popover … light and fluffy and breakfast-meets-dessert and awesome … often served with powdered sugar and lemon … or raspberry jam … (Anyone know where I can get an inexpensive cast iron Æbleskiver pan?) …
But until then … there’s one dish that makes my heart sing. It’s like desert for breakfast. And it’s a treat I want to share with my kids so that they will feel connected to the past in a way that I yearn for …
The German Pancake. Which is sort of German … mostly just Northern European … and not really Danish … But the first time I had one was at the home of a Danish ex-boyfriend, whose mother made one for Christmas morning and just about flipped my world on its ear with how simple and tasty it was.
Anyway … I’ve started using a lot more sourdough and soaked grains these days. So I’ve been experimenting with a traditional German Pancake and making a sourdough version that has quickly become a favorite at the Cottage. And it’s not complicated … and it turns any regular morning into a special morning … and a special morning into a festival of joyfulness.
- 1/3 cup unbleached flour
- 1/4 cup of sourdough start
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup milk (or buttermilk)
- 1 Tbls Honey
- 1/2 Tsp sea salt
- 2 Tbls Coconut Oil (melted)
- 2 Tbls butter (optional)
- 1 wedge of lemon (optional)
- 1 Tbls of “powdered” sugar (optional) – NOTE: Instead of refined powdered sugar, I will sometimes just put a tablespoon of organic cane sugar in the spice blender and whip it up until it’s nice an fine. This also works with xylitol. Or you could just forgo the traditional sugar, lemon and butter and just add some maple syrup or some berries or sour cream and apple sauce… the options are endless!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
- 10-inch skillet (we use cast iron, but any oven-proof skillet will do)
- Vita-Mix (any blender will do)
The Night Before
In a medium bowl, combine the unbleached all-purpose flour with about 2 tablespoons of sourdough start. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and let it rest for 8-12 hours. NOTE: If you don’t have a sourdough start yet (I’ll be writing in the coming days about why it’s a great thing to have on hand, and how to start one) you can use a 1/4 cup of plain whole milk yogurt.
In the Morning
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Add eggs and milk to your vita-mix and blend until a very mellow yellow color, and not yet frothy.
Heat the skillet and melt the coconut oil until it just liquifies.
Use the coconut oil to coat the pan (including the sides), then pour the remaining coconut oil to the eggs and milk in your blender. While the blender is blending (on a low to medium setting) add the sourdough mixture from the night before. Add the honey and sea salt.
Pour the contents of the blender into the skillet, letting it coat the bottom and the sides of the pan.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for about 20 minutes (maybe 15 … depends on your oven).
Remove from the oven, transfer to a serving plate, top with butter, lemon (or, in our case today, tangerine because we had no lemon) , and a sprinkle of powdered sugar … transport yourself back to the old country and enjoy!
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