What is Pannukakku?

Dorothy Bland

Various types of pancakes are enjoyed all over the world, and the pannukakku refers to a Finnish style of pancake. The pannukakku is often described as a pancake with the smoothness of a custard. This traditional Finnish dish generally features a crusty exterior with a light crispiness surrounding an airy, soft interior with a rich buttery flavor.

Some people enjoy jam with their pannukakku.
Some people enjoy jam with their pannukakku.

Generally, the main ingredients used in the Finnish pancake are milk, sugar, eggs, flour, and a pinch of salt. In some recipes, vanilla extract and lemon zest are also included. Usually, however, no leavening agent is included. After the eggs are beaten until fluffy, the remaining ingredients are added to form a smooth batter. In some recipes, the ingredients are whisked together, and then the batter is covered and allowed to rest before moving to the next step.

Pannukakku is often topped with maple syrup.
Pannukakku is often topped with maple syrup.

Over-mixing can make the pannukakku too dense. This can make the pancake tough and chewy as well as affect how much it rises. To avoid this problem, the dish is generally mixed by hand. If mixed by a blender, care is generally taken to avoid over-mixing.

Once the batter is ready, it is poured into a heated and buttered oven dish. As the Finnish pancake cooks, it will puff up, and the custard will set. The dish is usually ready to be removed from the oven once the top turns a golden yellow or brown in color. A toothpick or knife can also be inserted into the center to test whether it is done. As it cools, the pancake will usually fall in the middle.

The quantity of liquid used in the dish and the size of the pan used for baking will affect the finished product. A thinner batter, for instance, can be formed by adding melted butter to the actual batter or by increasing the amount of milk used. By using a thinner batter, the pannukakku is also likely to be thinner. Conversely, when a thicker batter is used, the final product may be creamier and more like custard.

Finnish pancakes are commonly served as a breakfast dish or eaten as a dessert. When served, a variety of different sweet ingredients can be used to accompany the pannukakku, including jam, jelly, and whipped cream. Fresh fruit, maple syrup, and powdered sugar are also popular toppings. Alternatively, the sugar can be eliminated from the pancakes to allow the dish to accommodate savory ingredients such as sausage gravy or split pea soup.

A pannukakku can be eaten at any time in Finland, but they are also traditionally served the night of June 23. June 24 is celebrated as the birth of St. John the Baptist, and these pancakes are typically eaten the night before. This feast also coincides with Finnish midsummer celebrations for the summer solstice and is customarily honored with bonfires and picnics. The pancake batter may be prepared at home or taken to the location of the bonfire and cooked over the flames.

Most recipes for pannukakku call for milk and eggs.
Most recipes for pannukakku call for milk and eggs.

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