Soup and Pancakes

Mainly out of curiosity and a dash of nostalgia I recently bought a copy of Scandilicious  (Saltyard Books May 2011), by Signe Johansen. I was just watching her promotional video on Amazon today and reflected on how different her upbringing was from mine!

Min Danske Mor arrived in England in the fifties from Sweden, where she had lived from the age of thirteen, armed with two Swedish cookbooks and only the vaguest notion of how to feed a family.  She struggled with the butchers, who cut the meat up differently, the imperial weights and measures, unfamiliar dishes with names like Yorkshire Pudding and relied on a handful of suppers which she could make. We never had puddings, but ate large quantities of salad as our second course, always with a mustardy  French vinaigrette. 

We ate cherries always in season, and I associate this fruit very much with Sweden and high summer and look high and low for the varieties I like best each year. Most of the cherry orchards of England have been grubbed up and it is rare to find Kentish Whitehearts and the lighter coloured cherries I remember from my childhood these days. Last year there was a bumper crop of wild cherries in my local dog walking woods and I made jam with it, this year there are hardly any cherries on the same trees.

My mother always wanted to eat the foods of home and so we would have gravad lax, matjes herrings, rare beef and rye bread and dark hard crackers and liquorice and thin wafers of chocolate on white bread and butter.  They are quite fashionable these days, though I haven’t seen anyone write up the chocolate bread sandwich on a blog yet. I wonder if you can get that special bread chocolate in one of the Scandinavian shops here?

One of the meals we had fairly often was ‘Soup and Pancakes.’ A traditional evening meal for Swedes everywhere.

Browsing through Signe’s beautifully photographed collection of her favourite meals and dishes I came across her recipe for evening pancakes and thought it sounded just like my mother’s way of making them. She had a very heavy cast iron pan with six or seven little indented circles which made lots of little pancakes, and from an early age I used to help make them. I found, and still do, the whole process really exciting.

Making Evening Pancakes, Scandilicious

I love trying to guess how much batter is just right; the sound of the butter hitting the hot metal; the blue smoke; the moment as the batter flows onto the pan; the frantic swirling; the bubbles forming; the lifting of the edge; the decision to turn – such drama – and then you get to do it all over again!

So for supper we had mushroom soup, followed by Evening Pancakes, which we filled with all sorts of bits and pieces I found in the fridge; some mini chorizo sausages, a bunch of Lincolnshire asparagus, a few cold new potatoes, some pancetta cubes, a handful of oyster mushrooms.  I heated everything up, flipped enough pancakes for the two of us, and put some on a mental plate for my ancestors in case they happen to be watching.

I cut the quantities down to make enough for the two of us as follows:-

More or less these are

Signe’s Evening Pancakes from Scandilicious – Secrets of Scandinavian Cooking

  • 300 ml full cream milk
  • a tablespoon and a half  of yoghurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 165 g plain flour
  • 60 g melted butter
  • Salt to taste

Mix the eggs and the yoghurt together first and then add the milk and flour, whisk well, finally pouring in the cooled and melted butter. I used mine after about ten minutes, but you can leave it to stand longer.

I use a steel crepe pan, the one made famous by Delia many years ago. Properly seasoned and cared for, it has outlasted any non stick pan I’ve ever owned. To season a pan like this when it is new or has been washed up by someone with washing up liquid (noooooo-ooooo) you heat it up on the hob, allow it to cool down, then add a little oil on a piece of kitchen paper and rub it round the pan, then warm it up again and allow it to cool. Other methods of seasoning pans are heating it up with salt in it, but the principle is that of heat and cooling. I store it with kitchen paper inside it to protect the seasoned surface when not in use.

pancakes Swedish styleTo make pancakes, first heat the pan up, add a small piece of good butter, watch it sizzle and tip it round the pan. Then take a small quantity of batter to start with, and pour it into the centre of the pan with a ladle. Lift the pan and tip and turn it to swirl the batter round the pan and fill in any big gaps.

Once small bubbles have appeared, you can pick up the edges of the pancake and see how it is doing underneath. It should take a minute or two, then flip it over and cook the other side. I keep them warm in the oven while I work my way through the batter. This quantity made about twelve eight inch pancakes.

Signe adds sugar to her batter, but I left it out as we were having savoury fillings. Though I did squeeze lemon juice and brown sugar on my very last one. Her pancake recipe is quite perfect, what else can I say?

I spy a recipe for waffles in there too…. nestled  in with the cakes, fish dishes, breads and meatballs and other delights.  There are useful tips on how to play with the repertoire of foods and bright clean flavours that one associates with Scandinavia.  I am looking forward to trying many more of the recipes in this book and revisiting my childhood.  Do visit Signe’s blog and have a look at her lovely book full of gorgeous photos and recipes.

I entered her blog competition last month on a whim, thinking of Moomins and my mug collection, and much to my surprise I have won a pretty set of Iittala Korento summer coffee cups from Skandium, a great store full of wonderful design classics like the Lamino chair. I’ll share a picture of them when they arrive!

This was what I wrote on her blog….

‘It’s the long dark November nights that make for good interior designers; there is time to think long and hard about making beautiful chairs that are really comfortable while a thousand candles twinkle in the night and the wolves howl in the pine forests outside, while inside one dreams of the midnight sun and the reflections on the Kattegat from sunlit sandstone cliffs….’

Thank you Signe for writing such a lovely book, (I have her permission to write about the recipe by the way)  I hope it does well.

I made these pancakes last month when I first bought the book, the photos are a bit grainy but that’s because they were taken with the iPad.

Related Posts :

  • Piima Bread for Moomins 
  • Gravad Lax
  • This post I found this morning – an explanation for the historical background to this meal, apparently it should be pea soup and pancakes and served on Thursdays; maybe I’ll do that next time.

17 thoughts on “Soup and Pancakes

  1. miskmask

    Æbleskiver is name of that cast iron pan with circular indentations. The batter puffs up when it hits the hot fat, creating a round apple-shape doughy creation that’s pulled apart at the centre and filled with jam. Here’s a photo at

    As for the sheets of chocolate, I’ve never seen it outside Denmark or Sweden but I’ll keep my eyes open for you.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Curiously that isn’t the pan my mother had, but I like the sound of those puffy pan cakes Miskmask! stealing the lunch chocolate and letting the thin brittle sheets melt in your mouth… Yum.

      I’ve had a google and found the one we had in this blog post Charlottes Fancy Mystery solved ! it’s a Swedish Pancake pan, similar but flatter.

  2. cityhippyfarmgirl

    Joanna loved this post. There is something that truly draws me to anything Scandinavian. I’ve never been there, but really feel I would be at home if I did. I never do pancakes like this so I suspect it’s high time I did. If you were in Sweden what would be the definitive match to go with them?
    I’m interested to see what the coffee cups look like too. Just looking at the website…oh, oh, oh…this could be trouble!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      I am sure you would be at home there ;) These pancakes are evening pancakes, they have more egg in them. Signe makes them with a little sugar and traditionally they would be served with berries, or fruit compote, applesauce, that sort of thing. So the first part of the meal would be the savoury soup, and I guess this would be the sweet course. Pancakes are very flexible as you know – snack food of an earlier generation.

  3. drfugawe

    I’m fascinated by food culture. Quite interesting, Jo – From my past research, pancakes were brought to America first by the Dutch (the real Dutch, not Deutsch), but didn’t become really popular until the pioneers and prospectors used sourdough starter to make simple daily pancakes, which they used as bread. Nowadays, pancakes over here are seldom served outside of breakfast – and are almost always done with baking powder, and therefore puffy, not crepe-like.

    Nice post – now I think I’ll go make up some of your pancakes, but I’ll adapt Signe’s recipe for sourdough – that should be interesting – probably won’t be crepe-like.

  4. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

    English pancakes are traditionally much thicker (and to my mind flabby, ugh) and are possibly made with baking powder Doc, I have never really explored in that direction as I have always made flat, thin pancakes, with the occasional foray into waffles, which from memory involved folding in very stiff beaten eggwhites.

    Sourdough evening pancakes…. why not? I was having a brief look around and came across a whole host of pancake recipes this morning with all sorts of ingredients.

    These pancakes are more crepes like than American breakfast pancakes, very simple, I’ve never used baking powder in pancakes. Look forward to hearing how they come out. I like savoury pancakes made with a little buckwheat too, that’s more french style though, galettes… filled with black pudding…

  5. Kelly

    What a great post Joanna – I love the way you catalogued your evening pancakes and it reminds me that we have not enjoyed pancakes for dinner in a long time. I also quite like the change up with savoury flavours and the addition of protein. Very nice!

  6. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    Fabulous read, Joanna, I think the idea of savoury pancakes for dinner is very appealing! There was a big thing here in the late 80s, when we were all eating filled savoury “crepes”, seems to have gone out of vogue now. Maybe it’s time to bring it back! :)

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Thanks Celia, it was fun writing it! They are a great standby, you can make them earlier in the day and stack them interleaved. I had a friend who used to make savoury cakes out of multiple layers of pancakes and fillings, but I still prefer them as fresh as possible from the pan.

  7. jan trounce

    Do like pancakes, I do, most of all with lots of lemon and crunchy sugar. In the 70s, when I was but a child bride, my parents-in-law came to stay with us after they had returned from a trip through England which included the Hebrides. They brought back some mead. I had planned stuffed, savoury pancakes for dinner, however, one bottle of mead later, we had shrieking, stuffed shreds of pancakes…..and an early night:)

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      You can’t really beat the lemon and sugar combo. I did that with the last one of this batch…. Shrieking mead merry pancakes, you didn’t drizzle it on them I take it ;)

  8. Melanie Corley

    I really enjoyed reading this Joanna! Its so interesting to me to learn what people from other countries/parts of the world eat and what’s traditional. I’ve always wanted to do savory waffles for dinner, but for some reason just don’t get around to it. I want to try the pancake recipe for sure. I’m glad you scaled it down for 2, makes it easy on me. Now, I just have to think what to serve it with.

  9. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

    Have them for a dessert with berries and cream, or with grated cheese or cream cheese and crispy bacon shreds. The other thing to do is to stack them with fillings between each layer and then serve it as a layered cake, that always looks fun!

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