Finnish Oven Pancakes (Pannukakku)

There is a certain type of weather that requires you to fire up your oven;  To combine flour, butter, eggs, milk and various other good things and apply heat. There is something in the low temperatures or rain or snow that obliges you to create baked goods and then eat them.  Since I am a slave to duty…

Finnish Oven Pancakes are a perennial forgotten favorite around our house.  Perennial in that we make them semi-often.  Semi-often in that I forget how simple a solution they are for last minute hot breakfasts, lunches or dinners until the children remind me.  I make them often enough that I remember there are 4 ingredients and I think I remember the quantities, but infrequently enough that I have to consult my human encyclopaedia de cuisine: my stepmother.  The conversations run like this.

(Phone rings and stepmother picks up the line.)

Val: Hello.

Me:  Hi, Val.  It’s me.  I am calling because I’m making Finnish Oven Pancakes again.

Val:  (chuckle)

Me:  I forgot again.  And I didn’t write it down again.

Val: (with the patience of Job) Four eggs, 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of milk, sugar, salt.

Me:  Thank you and I love you.

Val:  You’re welcome and I love you, too.

We have repeated this conversation about three times a year for about 16 years.  It’s not that I make this three times a year.  It’s that I make it in streaks, forget about it until the kids beg for it, smack myself in the head for having forgotten this recipe and hoist the phone to my ear once again. Thankfully, I have a very patient stepmother.

Thankfully, I say, because this is a recipe that should be added to your regular rotation and you deserve to know Val’s recipe.  And thankfully, too, because  finally, I am writing it out.  Writing it out so that I can share it all with you, yes.  But even more, writing it out means that I can stop annoying my beloved Val.  Well, at least about this particular recipe.  I’ll still call her for my knitting patterns, the-name-of-that-one-website-we-were-talking-about, the recipe for her oatmeal bread, that book title, which Mr. Bean episode had the hymn that they played while the Titanic was sinking, and the name of Hyacinth Bucket’s son.  Like I said, Val is a very patient woman.

But about these Finnish Oven Pancakes.  These fixtures of Finnish cuisine are prominent in many communities in the U.S. where there is a high population of Finn immigrants. The Upper Peninsula (Go, Yoop, eh?) has a huge Finnish community. They have graced us with all manner of cured fish and baked goods, but these?  These are one of their best. Finnish Oven Pancakes the love child of pancakes and custard.  They puff up like a Yorkshire pudding. They have structure -not wet, by any means- and texture, but they’re still soft.  Ranging from not-at-all-sweet to good-and-sweet and everywhere in between, Finnish Oven Pancakes can accompany everything from a simple sprinkle of sugar and squeeze of lemon to jam to sweetened whipped cream and Nutella to sausage gravy to stewed venison to seared mushrooms. Not all together, of course, but all this is to say it’s a very flexible meal base.

My boys prefer it with a little shake of confectioner’s sugar or brown sugar and a lemon wedge squeezed o’er top.  My husband likes it covered with sausage gravy like -as he is wont to say- “SOS, but much, much classier.”

It takes four ingredients; all of which will probably be in your pantry and/or refrigerator barring natural disasters or winter storms*.  Eggs, flour, milk, and salt.  Sugar is one-hundred percent optional.

*You will note that I don’t classify a winter storm as a natural disaster.  That is because I’m from Michigan.  We’re tough.  No whining about snow here, people.  Bring. it. on.

Finnish Oven Pancakes (Pannkakku)

Scroll to the bottom for an easy-print version of this recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 of one stick) butter, cut into three or four pieces
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk, preferably whole milk
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • up to 4 Tablespoons sugar, optional
  • splash of vanilla extract, optional

Preheat oven to 400°F.  When the oven temperature reaches about 300°F, place an 8- or 9-inch cake pan or 10-inch pie plate in the oven with the butter in it.  The butter should melt, but not brown, while the oven finishes heating.

Place the eggs, f lour, milk, salt, sugar and vanilla (if using) in the carafe of a blender.  Fix the cover in place and blend on high, stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary, until the mixture is smooth and even.  When the oven is fully heated, and the butter is fully melted, pull the oven rack out far enough to work safely and pour the batter into the hot pan.  Push the rack carefully back into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the oven pancake has puffed quite high and is a deep golden brown.  You can test the doneness by quickly inserting a butter knife in the center of the oven pancake.  If the knife comes out clean, the pancake is done.

Remove the pan from the oven, cut immediately (it will deflate some, so don’t worry!) and serve topped as desired.

Here are some topping ideas:

If you add the sugar to the batter…

  • Powdered sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice
  • A handful or two of fresh or frozen berries
  • A sprinkle of brown sugar and drizzle of maple syrup
  • A dollop of fruit jam
  • Apples sautéed in butter and caramel sauce (oh help.)
  • A dollop or five of sweetened whipped cream

If you omit the sugar…

  • Sausage gravy and chopped green onions
  • Beef or venison stew
  • Gravy

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4.0 from 4 reviews
Finnish Oven Pancakes (Pannukakku)
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast, Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
This high-rising traditional Finnish dish is a crispy exteriored cross between a pancake and a custard. Perfect for topping with both sweet and savoury goodies
Ingredients
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 of one stick) butter, cut into three or four pieces
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk, preferably whole milk
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • up to 4 Tablespoons sugar, optional
  • splash of vanilla extract, optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. When the oven temperature reaches about 300°F, place an 8- or 9-inch cake pan or 10-inch pie plate in the oven with the butter in it. The butter should melt, but not brown, while the oven finishes heating.
  2. Place the eggs, f lour, milk, salt, sugar and vanilla (if using) in the carafe of a blender. Fix the cover in place and blend on high, stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary, until the mixture is smooth and even. When the oven is fully heated, and the butter is fully melted, pull the oven rack out far enough to work safely and pour the batter into the hot pan. Push the rack carefully back into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the oven pancake has puffed quite high and is a deep golden brown. You can test the doneness by quickly inserting a butter knife in the center of the oven pancake. If the knife comes out clean, the pancake is done.
  3. Remove the pan from the oven, cut immediately (it will deflate some, so don't worry!) and serve topped as desired.
Notes
Here are some topping ideas: If you add the sugar to the batter... * Powdered sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice * A handful of fresh or frozen berries * A sprinkle of brown sugar and drizzle of maple syrup * A dollop of fruit jam * Apples sautéed in butter and caramel sauce (oh help.) * A dollop or five of sweetened whipped cream If you omit the sugar... * Sausage gravy and chopped green onions * Beef or venison stew * Gravy


Comments

  1. says

    I plan on dazzling my family this holiday season with the words, “Oh, I learned how to make this Finnish dish…”

    They look DELICIOUS, and I love how versatile they are. Thanks for writing the recipe down this time! ;)

  2. says

    I just came across this recipe via Tastespotting and, in addition to the pancakes, am very pleased to have found your blog – food and random thoughts are one of my very favourite combinations, and the conversations between you and Val remind me so much of similar conversations, mostly with my mum, but with assorted others as well. *Anything* described as the love child of pancakes and custard will be getting a run in my house before the week’s through!

  3. Andrea says

    made this over the weekend… SO yummy with the lemon and powdered sugar! will be making it again for SURE! Thanks!

  4. Aunt Tuna says

    This was the best breakfast ever, and Nathaniel and I enjoyed observing Luke trying to eat this and breathe through his mouth at the same time during those early mornings before school. :) Nice photos, sis. xoxoxo

  5. FrancyDe says

    It’s in the oven right now! I’m making the unsweetened version which we’re going to have with some bacon and cream gravy – didn’t have any sausage in the fridge today. I’m definitely going to try it next time with lemon, vanilla and sugar. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  6. sadie says

    i prefer the david eyres version … lighter and easier to make! i made pannukakku after i read this post but i found it heavy.

  7. Michael says

    Just finished cleaning up after making this. It was wonderful… But I had a problem with how mine formed up. I used a pie plate and at the edges it was 8 inches tall. So that part was slightly dry but still great. Ever have this issue? Anyone have thoughts for dealing with it?

  8. says

    Hi, Michael,

    This is just what happens at times–we just take it as part of the joy of the dish, a nice variation to the soft custardy part. Beating the mixture less can decrease the height of the edge, but I’m sure other variables are involved, so no guarantees!

    Merry Christmas! Valerie

  9. Mary C. says

    We eat these quite a bit for breakfast! We called them DP’s or German Pancakes. We love the lemon and powdered sugar the best. I love the idea to make them savory though and am going to have to try it.

  10. says

    I have a recipe similar to this one that I really like but decided to give yours a try for comparison. I thought they were both great, my husband liked yours a little better so i’m going to have to replace my other one! I added a sliced apple into the batter before baking, soo good!

  11. says

    I’m going to try this soon! We have to eat dairy free though due to my son’s allergy so I’m going to attempt to make these with either vanilla almond milk or coconut milk. I think they’ll still turn out tasty though!!

  12. Christine says

    LOVED your story – this is EXACTLY the problem I have with this recipe – I recall that it is so obvious I should have it memorized but make it so sporadically that I have to tear around to find it. (Now I know I can just call Val! lol) One day I will make a specific place for our favourites. I would frame them all on the wall if I had any real wall space in the kitchen. Maybe screen them onto tea towels?

    We especially like to make this recipe for sleepover mornings where the drama of the rise is appreciated as entertainment. We top it with whatever fresh fruit is in season and the kids are proud and LOVE IT.

  13. Chris says

    One more idea to add… just before you take it out, add a generous sprinkle of shredded cheese. Great after school snack. Dip in maple syrup. Believe me the cheese and syrup do go together ;)

  14. Deanna Collins says

    Oh, this makes me so hungry. I just found your website and I am in LOVE!!! I have made a recipe that is almost the same and it was given to me by a dear friend who called this German Pancakes. We use 1 cup milk, six eggs and 1 cup flour. Have never used sugar, salt or vanilla. I bake it in a 9×13 pan with a full stick of melted butter, for 20 – 25 minutes. My favorite toppings are applesauce with maple syrup poured over it or just good peach or strawberry jam!! I used to make two pansful of this for my gang of eight. (six kids) It was one of their favorite breakfasts and the best part is how simple to prepare and how quickly it bakes and is ready to feed the hungry family. Thanks for reminding me of this. I found the best way to not forget this sweet recipe is to print it out and scotch tape it to the inside of the cupboard door.

  15. Heather says

    I know I’m super late commenting on this but I’ve just recently found your blog. My husband and I shared this for dinner last week when there just wasn’t anything in the house to cook and we were fighting for each last spec and crumb. Thanks for sharing!

  16. says

    This is my favorite recipe ever. My mother (who grew up in Finland) used to make us pannukakku for dinner every once in a while, and we loved it. But… please don’t tell her this… yours is better. I think the blender might be key. And I have a feeling she didn’t use as much butter, and her “butter” was most likely margarine *shudder*. Ever since I found this recipe on your site, I’ve made this… well, there are weeks when I don’t make it, but not that many. Thank you for posting this!!! Kiitos! (Thank you in Finnish)

    My version uses white spelt flour (I have issues with wheat), 4 tablespoons of sugar, and a dollop of quality vanilla. Oh, and I always bake it in a nice big cast iron skillet with high sides rather than a cake pan. I think it comes out better. Well, I think everything comes out better when cooked in cast iron.

  17. says

    Hello girls!

    I’m from Finland, 18 years old girl. I’m baking pancake in oven right now, I googled “pancake in oven” in english just find out if Americans make their pancakes in oven like we Finns do. In here, pancakes are baked in a deep baking sheet, not a cake pan. Usually it’s a dessert because we eat it with sugar, syrup or berry jam. I’ve never ever heard about eating pancakes with onions or beef etc.!

    But yes, pancakes are great. I find it hard to make pancakes the “american way” so I bake it in the oven. So much easier. And Your recipe was pretty fine. Thanks :)

    Ps. My blog is about my life now in Finland and my willing to move far away from here. If you guys are interested about finnish lifestyle :)

  18. Kristin says

    I would strongly advise against this recipe. The consistency is very heavy where Finnish pancakes are normally supposed to be light & airy. There is not nearly enough milk compared to the amount of flour. I would highly recommend the recipe for finnish-pancake-suomalainen-pannukakku from cooks.com instead.

    • says

      It’s interesting how there are so many schools of thought on which one is most ‘authentic’ isn’t it? This is the one I grew up loving, so it’s definitely the one I make by default. Mine is more custardy than popovery but I’ve had them both ways. To each their own!

  19. Ilona says

    I’ve never heard about finnish pancake before. I’ve wasted so many years! ;) It’s sooo yummy! Will make it again, for sure! :)

  20. says

    Hi! My husband just made this recipe and I shared it on my blog, along with a link to your page! It was delicious! I’m a new Finnish Pancake addict :) thanks for sharing.
    Caitlin

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