I had never heard of Aebleskivers before marrying my husband and moving to our community. The neighboring town we live by has a large Danish heritage and one of the local churches even hosts an annual Aebleskiver dinner that draws crowds from miles away.
So what is so special about Aebleskivers? First, they are a sweet and rich pancake that is baked in a sphere using a special cast-iron pan that contains seven round wells. Each Aebleskiver is fluffy and golden brown from frying it, by turning it 90 degrees at a time. Second, they're easy to eat. Not quite bite sized but after a couple bites you're ready to take a bite of your next one. Third, they're a delicious and special way to explore your Danish roots and pass on a family tradition to the next generation.
Many Danes enjoy celebrating Christmas with Aebleskivers, but for our family we like to make them for special meals throughout the year, including Pancake Day, observed the day before Ash Wednesday. Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, was started by Pope St. Gregory around 600 AD when he banned Christians from eating any meat and animal products during Lent, so people made pancakes to use up all of their eggs, milk and butter. While our family doesn't practice abstaining from all meat products during Lent, Pancake Day is a fun way to prepare for the season.
The hardest part of Aebleskivers is that you need the right tools to make them. If you are as lucky as me you'll get an Aebleskiver pan passed onto you. Otherwise, you can find one online, at your local kitchen store, or at an outdoor or sporting goods store that carries cast-iron pans. You'll also need something to turn each Aebleskiver. Traditionally this was done with a clean knitting needle or hatpin. I personally use a toothpick to flip them and to check that they're done.
3 Eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups Buttermilk
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 cup Shortening, melted
1 1/2 cups Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Baking Powder
Heat Aebleskiver pan over medium to medium-high heat.
To make batter, beat egg yolks, buttermilk and baking soda. Add melted shortening, then mix in flour, salt and baking powder. Fold in beaten, stiff egg whites.
Put an extra 1/2 tsp of shortening in each Aebleskiver well. Then using a 1 1/2 Tbsp cookie scoop fill each cup 3/4 full with batter. When baked to a golden brown, around 1 minute, turn with a needle or toothpick and bake the next side, turning 90 degrees at a time til baked all the way through.
Serve with syrup, powdered sugar, jam, applesauce or honey.
Have you ever had an Aebleskiver before? What are some of your favorite heritage dishes?