The non-Viking popover-like pancakes.
While the bottom cooks, there’s an opportunity to fill the aebleskivers with apples, prunes, jam, or the like by putting the filling and a dab more batter on the top while the bottom cooks. When the bottom is done, the aebleskiver is flipped in the cup with a fork or spoon.
Between the flipping, the shape of the pan, and the baking powder, the pancakes turn into round balls. If they’re not filled, they’re not quite as airy as popovers, but are eaten the same way, and in the same contexts (breakfast, dessert, or as a snack).
The legendary origin (which is to say, completely absurd and without any basis in reality) is that Vikings cooked cakes on their dented shields, and the batter pooled in the dents, creating aebleskivers.
There are some problems with that legend. Chief among them is that Viking shields were wooden. Attempts to use them as cooking vessels would achieve the invention of the Viking funeral, not aebleskivers.
Equally significant is that these pancakes have culinary relatives across Asia. In the South of India, they use a similar pan to make a usually spicy version called paniyarams; in Thailand, they use it to make a street food called kanom krok, a sort of rice and coconut cake; and in Japan, a they use the pans to make octopus-filled dumplings called takoyaki.
Unless I missed the day in World history where the Vikings visited Japan, I’m guessing the Vikings weren’t directly involved in this pancakes. (Although if anybody wants to work on a script for Vikings vs. Samurai, I’d love to watch that movie. Can someone get Jason Statham on the phone?)
The November 25, 1917 edition of the New York Tribune included an aebleskiver pan as part of their “Tribune Institute” selections of tested home economics products:
A Pan That Makes Globular Pancakes
Did you ever try to make Danish pancakes? They are delicious and are easily made if you have a Danish cake pan.
As a rule, only Danes are acquainted with these cakes, and until recently, when it was added to the Wager Ware family, the cake pan could be obtained only in Denmark.
It has a round pate of heavy, smooth cast iron, with little wells or sockets, which are perfect hemispheres in shape. A strong iron handle riveted to the plate enables one to handle it as easily as a frying pan.
Like a frying pan it is made primarily to be used on the top of a stove, or set into one of the ordinary round openings on top of a coal range.
The batter for Danish cakes is made exactly like a pancake batter, with a double allowance of baking powder. The pan is heated thoroughly, plentifully greased with margarine, drippings or any other fat commonly used for the purpose, and the batter poured into the round sockets precisely as pancake batter is poured over a griddle.
Then, if you are using a gas stove, turn the heat half way down and the cakes will puff up into round balls. When the brown crust shows around the edges and the top is full of “dimples,” loosen each cake with a small spatula or a very thin, flexible, steel knife–a curved grapefruit knife is admirable for this purpose–and turn it upside down. In about two minutes the top half of the ball will be slightly browned and the cake done through.
To serve, break the cakes apart and spread with butter and apple sauce, or put in a dab of butter and pour maple syrup over them.
They look like ball-shaped popovers, but the inside, instead of being hollow, is filled with a light, porous sponge.
Danish cakes can be made only in a Danish cake pan, but the cake pan can be used in the oven for baking any kind of cake or muffin that is ordinarily cooked in an iron muffin pan.
Made by the Wagner Mfg. Co., Sidney, Ohio. Danish Cake Pan. Diameter 9 inches. Price, 65 cents.
From the box of F.J. from Sun City, Arizona. Some cards suggest a family history in Missouri.
Danish Ebleskivers — Diane’s
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
2 tsp. sugar
Beat egg yolks. Add sugar, salt, and milk; then flour, soda, and baking powder which have been sifted together. Last, fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Place fall amounts of fat in each cup (called a munk pan) and fill 2/3 full of dough.
*Place a small tsp. of applesauce on top of dough; then barely cover with a few drops of dough, cook until bubbly, turn carefully with fork and finish baking other side.
Serve with butter, maple syrup, or jam. Sprinkle with powdered sugar after baking. (Can keep heated at low temperature in oven.)
From the recipe file of Ferna Mae Jones