Reunited with a family tradition and a plate full of aebleskivers
July 02, 2008When my "Gramps" (Holger) Jorgensen pulled out the aebleskiver pan, the whole family gathered. Everyone in my family loves them, and why not, they are a wonderful tasty treat. And if you have an appetite like mine, they are perfect for any occasion.
It's a tradition that has long been passed down to all in the Jorgensen family. Thankfully it's a tradition that is still alive and well. The Danish people are well known for their pastries and the aebleskiver is one of the most treasured of all.
A few months ago, my father said, "The Jorgensen Aebleskiver (pronounced aw-bluh-skeever) Reunion will be at Carol Ann's in Highland this year, you going to make it?"
It had been a while, so this year I decided it was time to put some aebleskivers in the belly once more, just for old time's sake. Not one to miss too many meals throughout life, I was sure to be Johnny-on-the-spot.
So what is an aebleskiver?
Well, it's a Danish pancake, but round. Who ever heard of a round instead of flat pancake? The Danes, of course. The batter is much like a traditional pancake, or waffle. They are prepared in a cast iron aebleskiver pan or monk pan, a bit larger than a golf ball yet smaller than a tennis ball.
It is a treasured delicacy in Denmark, and where exactly it came from or who first made them no one seems to know. There are probably hundreds of explanations and theories, I dare say, none of them are the same. The name makes people believe that there are slices of apples inside them since aebleskiver actually means "apple slices" in Danish.
Our family serves them with apple sauce and sau-sage of your choice. We have always had them lightly rolled in powder sugar, or served with brown sugar. They can also be served with raspberries, strawberries, apples or blueberries, depending on where you came from in Denmark.
|Ralph Jorgensen turns the aebleskivers as Ben Nestle tends to the sausage at annual Jorgensen Aebleskiver Reunion. photo by Randy Jorgensen.|
Aebleskivers are most popular around Christmas, and are not neccessarily a breakfast time meal. They are a special treat all across Denmark.
When I was about 15 years old, our family went to Denmark to visit relatives. It was my first time flying in a jet and my first time seeing a world other than central Michigan. As a wide-eyed lad, I absorbed all the sights, all the foods and of course, all Copenhagen had to offer. As families gathered, I was never disappointed that the aebleskiver was part of the welcoming meal. I must have eaten a thousand of them.
Thank heavens you didn't need to pronounce it correctly to eat them!
The story behind the aebleskiver is perhaps more legend than fact, and there are many of them. Here is my favorite, or as I like to think, the way the aebleskiver evolved into one of Denmark's most favorite foods.
First, all agree it is a very old recipe, perhaps a thousand years old, dating back to the times of the Vikings. In the 'good old days' the Vikings roamed up and down the coasts of Europe and the waters of the Atlantic, doing what Vikings do. A nasty breed of men. As the story goes, one band of these Vikings had been particularly hard hit by battle, so when they got back to the ship with their horned helmets and shields all dented and banged up, they decided to have one of their favorite dishes to help them regain strength - pancakes!
Of course in those days they did not have modern conveniences such as frying pans, so, they greased their shields and poured pancake batter on them over fire. The dents from battle in their shields created a pancake, round instead of flat.
Ahh, the aebleskiver!
Although I can't envision these harden hulks of men, the Vikings, dusting the aebleskivers with powdered sugar, can you? More likely a leg of lamb in one hand and these handy little balls of pancake in the other, popping them in their mouths like gum drops one after another.
Most of these recipes are passed on from one generation of Danes to the next. My Aunt Ginnie passed ours on to us and my son.
4 egg yolks
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups buttermilk
4 egg whites stiffly beaten
2 cups flour
1/s tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. baking powder
Butter or oil for frying
Beat egg yolks with sugar. Add rest of ingredients, fold in beaten egg whites. Put about a tablespoon of butter or shortening in each pan cup. Then put in batter after shortening is hot. Turn when half done. When browned on one side, almost right away, turn with two-tined fork and keep turning until tines comes out clean after piercing through the cake. Served with applesauce or dipped in brown sugar while hot.
It may not be easy to find an aebleskiver pan or monk pan, but they are out there. You can order one at www.yournw.com for a little over $25.
Cousin Bill and Rose Marie Taylor shared with me an interesting story about an aebleskiver pan they found at a flea market in Forida. It seems a lady was squabbling over the price of the pan, which she thought was something in which to prepare poached eggs. Neither the lady or the fella selling the pan knew what it was, but agreed a fair price was $15. At the last minute the woman declined to buy it and walked away. Rose Marie told the man it was actually an aebleskiver pan from Denmark and then she too went on her way.
After thinking about it a moment, Rose Marie returned to the flea market vendor and said, "Well, I thought about it and I'll buy it for the $15 you were asking."
The man replied and said, "Sorry, it's now $25."
Rose Marie, somewhat puzzled said, "Just five minutes ago you were going to sell it to that lady for $15, now you want $25?"
The man boldly stated, "Well that was before I knew what it was!"
So find yourself a pan, whip up some batter and treat yourself to a yummy Danish delight!