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Recipe: Icelandic Pancakes

Try your hand at this traditional Icelandic treat

These thin and light pancakes, known in Iceland as "Pönnukökur" are a real treat! These are eaten more often for dessert than for breakfast.

More like French crepes than the traditional fluffy American pancake, the style may have come from French sailors who came to Iceland to fish, in a tradition that started in the 1600s and continued until a century ago.* 

Icelandic cooks say the secret to an excellent pancake is in the special pan called a pönnukökupanna (literally “pancake pan”) - Icelanders never wash their pancake pan - they build up the seasoning by simply wiping after use with a towel.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 and 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • Optional: I teaspoon of cinnamon, cardamom, or a tablespoon of brewed coffee

 

Mix the batter

  1. Melt the butter, either in your pancake pan or the microwave.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.
  3. Add about a cup and a half of the milk while whisking until there are no clumps left.
  4. Next, add the eggs, vanilla extract and the rest of the milk into the bowl while continuing to whisk. The batter should be very thin.
  5. Add the butter to mixture while whisking.
  6. The batter should be about as thick as cream – if it’s too thick, add more milk.

 

Cook the pancakes

  1. You might choose to leave the batter for about a half-hour before cooking – this will make the pancakes lighter.
  2. Grease your pan, and let it heat up at medium heat. Make sure the pan is hot before you start to pour.
  3. Pour the batter to make a very thin layer – it will help to rotate the pan as you pour the batter to make an even layer.
  4. Cook till the bottom is golden brown (about a minute or so), then flip the pancake over to cook the other side (from 30 seconds to a minute).

 

Add the toppings

  • Rhubarb jam is a traditional Icelandic topping, along with freshly whipped cream. 
  • Granulated sugar is another simple traditional topping. 
  • If you can find it in your local grocery, you might try Skyr, a traditional yoghurt-style product that is made with distinctive cultures - it's thicker and creamier than yoghurt, and Icelanders have been enjoying it for centuries. 

 

*If you find the idea of French fisherman in Iceland intriguing, come along on our Icelandic Explorer tour, which spends a night in Fosshotel Eastfjords, which is situated in 4 historic buildings originally built for French fishermen in the years between 1898 - 1907. The most famous of them is the French hospital, built in 1903. The hotel includes a museum devoted to the French fishermen.

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