Term of the Week: Ableskiver

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my love of vintage cookbooks. They’re great for researching old recipes and finding out about oddball things like abelskivers. See, I got an ableskiver pan for my birthday and luckily my mother-in-law knew what it was on sight (she’s of Danish ancestry). Not knowing how to pronounce it or what was actually in an ableskiver, I went to my vintage cookbook collection.

Luckily, I have an old booklet called The Scandinavian Cookbook, published by the Culinary Arts Institute of Chicago in 1973. They didn’t give much explanation, but the recipes (two of them!) seemed like pancake batter with cardamom added. The translation from Danish is actually “apple slices,” since those are a traditional ingredient in these little quickbreads. They turn out to look a bit like doughnut holes.

I buttered up the cast-iron pan and filled each cup to the top with batter. They brown on the bottom and then you have to carefully turn them over so that the other side browns as well and forms a ball. I found that chopsticks were really helpful for this, or a small metal spatula. It took some trial and error, but when they were cooked through, these fragrant little goodies got inhaled by my husband and daughter. Here’s the recipe that I used, although there’s apparently an entire cookbook on ableskivers (also spelled ebelskivers; see my recommendations, below).

Oh, and even though I was calling them able-skyvers, they’re supposed to be pronounced able-sheevers.

Pancake Balls (Ableskiver I)

Makes about 4 dozen

Set an abelskiver pan over low heat.

Sift together and set aside:

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

3/4 teaspoon salt


1 cup thick sour cream [I used yogurt]

2/3 cup milk

3 egg yolks, beaten

2 tablespoons melted butter

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the liquid mixture all at one time, stirring until well blended.

Beat until rounded peaks are formed 3 egg whites. Gently spread the batter over the egg whites and fold together.

Grease wells in the pan with about 1/2 teaspoon butter each. Pour batter into wells, filling about half full [I filled to tops in my pan]. With a fork turn ableskivers frequently to brown evenly. Do not pierce. Abelskivers are done when a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Serve immediately sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar.

Variation: Pare and slice 2 medium apples. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of the apples over the batter in each well.

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