My Family’s Favorite “Norwegian” Thin Pancakes

My daughter asked me to make a special family treat for breakfast this morning–thin pancakes. This breakfast is always special in our family. My grandmother, who was dearly loved, would surprise us with thin pancakes on holidays when everyone was together. Because she was Norwegian, we always referred to them as Norwegian Thin Pancakes. Making them is a connection for me to an earlier, happy time, as I hope it is for my children. Despite being easy and inexpensive, thin pancakes are real gourmet fare.

Similar to crêpes, these pancakes can be spread or filled with fruit, whipped cream, jam, jelly, butter, sugar, cottage cheese, pudding, or any combination to make a delicious breakfast or dessert. By cutting down on the sugar and filling them with vegetables or meat, they make an interesting dinner dish. The pancakes can be frozen for later use or the batter can be kept for up to a week in the refrigerator or several months in the freezer. It is wise to practice these before trying to impress your in-laws, but two or three batches can turn a tyro into a master pancake maker.

2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
2 t. vanilla
4 jumbo (or 5 large) eggs
2 to 3 c. 2% or whole milk (can be sour)
2-3 T. butter (to be used in the pan and to eat on the pancakes)

10″ well-seasoned black iron skillet or crêpes pan
Large, rounded, non-serrated table knife or long, narrow spatula (I use a stainless steel implement that looks like a large tongue-depressor.)
Ladle or spoon to measure two ounces of batter at a time
Plate covering sauce pan filled with boiling water to keep pancakes hot until served.

Combine first four ingredients in a large bowl with a large sturdy spoon to make a heavy dough without lumps. I add one egg at a time until all of the flour has been worked into a doughy mass similar to bread dough, then work in one more egg. Stir and gradually add milk until the batter has the consistency of heavy cream.

Heat skillet until drops of water sprinkled on it sizzle. Place a very small pat of butter (just enough to coat the bottom) in the skillet and spread the butter with a rolling motion. If the butter turns brown before you can add the batter, the skillet is too hot. Gently pour two ounces of batter into the skillet and spread the batter to coat the bottom with the same rolling motion. In about 35 seconds, the pancake will be ready to be turned. Run the knife around the edge of the pancake and gently work the knife under the pancake. If the pancake is ready to be turned, it will be slightly brown on the underside and will not stick. After turning, the pancake needs only about 15 seconds before it is done. Flip the pancake onto the hot plate. I start serving when I have six or eight pancakes ready. Allow three to four pancakes per person, so the above recipe will serve about four.

The pancake should be less than ¼” thick, supple, and only slightly browned. If the pancakes tear too easily, that usually indicates that the batter is too thin or was made with too few eggs. If they are difficult to roll, that indicates that they were cooked too long. Happy eating.

I would like to add a note about the black iron skillet. I am not a Luddite; I am comfortable with most new things. But I never, ever use non-stick cookware. A well-seasoned black iron skillet is the world’s most useful and durable cooking implement–food does not stick and it is easy to clean. Just rinse the pan with very hot water and use a scouring pad to remove any food that does not rinse away. Do not use soap! By cooking in a black iron skillet or pan, you avoid the danger of noxious chemicals from non-stick surfaces and actually add iron to your diet.


John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
©2011 John B. Payne, Attorney

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  • 1) I love memories that make one feel good that are associated with food and smells.
    2) Having made crepes in my homemaking days, I know your grandmother loved you dearly.
    3) Did you know that in the desserts of Arab countries, they brown flour on cast iron pans and use the result as a preventative for diaper rash? Works better than the stuff we use here. The theory is that the zinc in the iron leaches out into the flour.


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