"Pannukakku" Finnish Cast Iron Skillet Oven Pancake

March 8, 2018

Each culture seems to have its on unique take on various foods. Whether it be burritos, crepes or eggrolls, the basic idea is the same, but different countries have put their own twist on the concept of food enclosed in a wrapper.  Same with the dumpling and ravioli. In the case of Pannukakku or Finnish Oven Pancake, it's Finland's answer to a Dutch Baby or German pancake. Sort of a cross between a popover and a souffle, the Pannukakku is a custardy version of the dish that is baked in the oven, and it's the perfect way to use some of your delicious fresh eggs.

I'm fortunate enough to have inherited my Grandmother's Finnish cookbook, passed down to me from my Mom. My Grandmother raised chickens nearly her whole life and of course used their eggs in much of her cooking. My Mom used the same cookbook for years, and in fact there are many of her handwritten notes in the margins. I remember both my Grandmother and Mom cooking traditional Finnish dishes growing up and Pannukakku has always been one of my favorites, so I thought I would share my recipe with you.

Interestingly, the recipe in The Finnish Cookbook for Pannukakku was marked "No! Too custardy with no taste" by my Mom, so I set out to create a tastier version. I added vanilla bean paste and cardamom - two of my favorite baking flavors in keeping with the Scandinavian roots of the recipe - and I am really pleased with the results. I think I'll bake one for my Mom the next time I see her to see if it meets with her approval.
In the meantime, I hope you give this recipe a try using fresh eggs from your coop! I love the one bowl (well, actually two!)/one pan simplicity, and it's SO delicious! I had actually forgotten just how yummy  (and easy) this buttery, eggy delicacy actually is!

6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or equal amount of vanilla extract)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick butter

Preheat the oven to 425F degrees.
Whisk the eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla bean paste in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt, then stir the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Whisk until smooth and no lumps remain. It will look like pancake batter. Let the mixture sit for ten to fifteen minutes to rise a bit. 
While the batter is resting, add the butter to a cast iron skillet. Put it in the oven for a few minutes until the butter is melted. Swirl the pan to cover the bottom and set aside.
Pour the batter into the skillet and bake for 10-15 minutes or until your pannukakku is puffy and golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes, then cut into slices and serve topped with powdered sugar, syrup, jam or fresh fruit. Pannukakku is sweet, but also pairs well with savory bacon or sausage links and delicious for breakfast or brunch.

Leftovers can be reheated or eaten at room temperature.

-Whisk the eggs, milk and sugar-

-Melt the butter while the oven preheats-

-Pour the batter into the hot skillet-

-Bake until your pancake is puffy and golden brown-

-Look at all that buttery goodness!-

-Slice and serve-

Get your copy of The Finnish Cookbook: Finland's best-selling cookbook adapted for American kitchens by Beatrice Ojakangas (Crown Cookbook Series 1964)

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