Ærø pandekager—or ærø pancakes, are fluffy, crunchy and fried in lots of pigs fat. Ærø Pancakes are an island specialty after an old original recipe. These pancakes are a combination of greasy, crisp, and airy. If you like doughnuts or fried foods this is the perfect pastry for you. In Ærø they are often served at town festivals and markets, like the Christmas in July festival. You can also find them in some of the islands restaurants like Landbogaarden. At my dads restaurant Landbogaarden I worked as a waitress and I also made all of the pancakes served at the restaurant, it’s super easy and fun to make.
The origin of Ærø pandekager is a little island called Ærø (pronounced aerou or arrow) that’s located in the south of Denmark in the Baltic Sea. The tiny island has a population of 6,383 when you combine all of the 14 villages that make up the island. Ærø is full of 18th century houses and cobble stone roads that will make you feel like you’re in a fairytale. My dad just moved from Copenhagen to the island our family has been inhabiting for generations, Ærø. In 2018 he opened up a bed and breakfast and soon after he took over our family restaurant with his girlfriend. Over the summer I usually visit for a few months, but this summer I visited for two weeks and I had the opportunity to work in the restaurant as a waitress. One food that stuck with me from my childhood over there were these pancakes. We would always get them at the “jul i juli” festival, which translates to Christmas in July.
These pancakes are really easy to make. The only ingredients you need are mostly in your kitchen, well most things except for the lard. Grab your flour, yeast, cardamom, eggs, sugar, and lard. First pour the milk into a bowl and put the yeast in it and let it dissolve. When making it in Denmark the yeast comes fresh and in little bars, so if you’re making it in Europe use one whole yeast bar- if you’re making it in America use one packet of active dry yeast. Then divide 6 eggs and put the whites into a bowl and beat until fluffy and then put bowl to the side to turn into batter later. Mix flour salt and cardamom into the milk and yeast mixture, then plop the stiffened egg whites into the batter and let the dough sit for an hour with a cloth or plastic wrap over it in a large bowl. When you check on the dough it should be noticeably risen. Turn the stoves heat on high, and let the stick of lard melt in the pot. Once melted into a grease, start taking spoonfuls of dough and putting them in the oil and let them fry until golden brown, flipping them about two times on each side. Plate with jam and eat. My first time having an ærø pancake was at a town festival in the summer when I was younger. The Christmas in July festival always has a little cart close to the church that was christened in on the island, the pancakes go for 2 for 20kr, which is equivalent to $3.
Kids and adults love them, and they’ll always be a staple on the island. The best thing about them is that they’re rare. They’re not easily accessible at all. They’re not typically sold in a lot of stores so when I see that cart I get a different feeling in my heart. I remember on the first day I decided to put the pancakes on the menu it was a super busy night because all of the German sailors were in the port that night. We had about 10 orders of pancakes and I was rushing and frying all of these pancakes trying to get everyone’s order done. The key to them is frying them until they’re perfectly golden, not too crispy not too doughy. This just shows how important it is for you to watch how you fry them. That’s why it’s really important to watch how they’re fried.
These pancakes are fun to make with kids, I know when I was a kid I loved them. Keep in mind there’s pork in these, making them not edible to all. Making this desert is easy and anyone can make it. Trying foods from different cultures is a thing I think everyone should have on their life check list. Try this recipe to expand your pallet.