Last night we had the rare honor of a granddaughter spending the night. When Anna knew she’d be doing this her mind began working. The previous day as we sat at a basketball game for her brother, Sam, she leaned into me and said, “Can Grandpa make Swedish pancakes for breakfast ?”
Well, let me tell you about the enduring family tradition of making these delights.
It began with great grandpa Sundwall whom we called Pop. His mother came over from Sweden when she was a teen. All alone. One dress and a pair of shoes to her name speaking no English at all. She wound up in NYC (in company with other Swedes, not doubt) and became a cleaning girl. Met and married three husbands, one of whom was Pop’s father. I don’t know which of his parents taught him how to make the pancakes, but she did a good job.
Here’s the recipe. One egg for each person, some milk, some flour, a bit of sugar.
This must be mixed to the right consistency (thin) and free of lumps. Go ahead and add more milk or flour – a dab at a time. The pan is best a cast iron one and bacon dripping is optimum to slick up the pan. The first pancake is the cooks. He’s got to test it for flavor and tenderness. Sometimes the batter swirls unevenly in the pan, but this gets better with each consecutive pancake – it’s all in the wrist. Pop had a special wide bread knife to pull the crispy edges away before he flipped them. A wonderful thing to see. When done each pancake is flopped onto a warm plate and then covered. They are very thin and each person gets four or five so when that many are ready they are eaten right away. We don’t wait for each other – Ya gotta eat them pronto. This is understood.
NOW – the controversy. How to eat them.
The requesting granddaughter, Anna, likes hers with lashings of butter (love that term) and a generous slathering of jam – preferably strawberry. Once they are sufficiently loaded they are rolled like a jelly roll, cut crosswise and savored. Pardon me while my mouth waters.
Others will do the butter thing, roll them up and douse them with powdered sugar. Or syrup, in the case of Grandpa John, our cook. I like mine anyway I can get them. Lingonberry jam is going all out Swedish, but the stuff is hard to find around here.
The tradition of making said pancakes has so far only passed down to the men in the family with number two son, Blaine, having taken up the task several years ago. His are excellent, too.
Anna has made inquiries into learning the fine art of Swedish Pancake making and Grandpa even bought a special pan for her at Christmas. One that’s lighter than the cast iron so as to facilitate better batter swirling. We’ll see if it comes to pass. Maybe by Christmas 2015 or 2016.
In the meantime – Kudos to the Sundwall men for keeping up this delightful and delicious old world tradition. We who eat them humbly thank you.
Photo: Free Digital Photos