Pannukakku, a.k.a. Finnish Oven Pancake, is a crisp-exteriored cross between pancakes and custard. They puff up like a Yorkshire pudding and can be served sweet or savoury. This is your new brinner fave!
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…
Pannukakku is a perennial forgotten favorite around our house. Perennial in that we make it semi-often. Semi-often in that I forget how simple a solution it is for quick, unplanned 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.)
Me: Hi, Val. It’s me. I am calling because I’m making Finnish Oven Pancake again.
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 Pannukakku. This fixture of Finnish cuisine is 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. Pannukakku is like a big pancake crossed with custard.
It puffs up like a Yorkshire pudding. And friends, it is crazy delicious served sweet or savoury.
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, Pannukakku goes with 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.
Finnish Oven Pancakes a.k.a. Pannukakku
Place the eggs, flour, 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 pannukakku 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…
- Brown Sugar Homemade Pancake Syrup
- Powdered sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice
- A handful or two of fresh or frozen berries
- A 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
Finnish Oven Pancakes (Pannukakku)
- 4 Tablespoons butter 1/2 of one stick, 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.