Viking Pancakes (aka How I Suck at Recipes)

So, not for the first time I have had a Viking Pancakes request. Now, before I get a buttload of messages and comments about how they’re not authentic, I know that. We call them Viking Pancakes because it’s fun to do so, not because we’re re-enacting. That being said, I was taught this recipe by a Finnish girl back in my youth. She had a Norwegian Grandma who taught it to her. And, it’s reasonable to suppose something like this would have been eaten; they’re fast, east, and use foods that the early Northern Europeans would have had on hand. I could even see Vikings making them when they were on Viking. Well, sort of.


Ok, without further ado….


I realized last night that the recipe is basically 1:1:1. That is 1 egg to one cup of flour to one cup of milk. The cup of milk is the variable- always. It will depend on how thick you like ’em and what type of flour you use. I think it also depends on humidity a bit but don’t have any actual evidence for that. What I also love is that you can tailor this recipe to what you have on hand. Lots of milk but just a couple of eggs? No worries – have more milk than eggs. No milk in the house? No worries, use eggs and thin evaporated milk with a lot of water (though it’s not as yummy). I suspect you could make it with all water and just an egg or two if you were desperate but I haven’t ever done that.


So last night I did roughly 1 egg: 1/2c rye flour and 1/2 sifted, wheat flour (so like white flour but not white because no bleach etc): 1 cup milk. If I’d been thinking, I would have doubled my eggs and halfed the milk. I haven’t started milking the goats and don’t think I will be but I have eggs coming out of my ears (just grabbed two dozen from the house this morning).

So, the flour goes into a big mixing bowl.



Then the eggs (or the milk -are you getting the general idea of how I cook?):


I used to have a working Kitchen Aid to mix these kinds of things up but I’m back to using my $20 bomb proof hand mixer. Use whatever method you want to start blending these two together. You want them to look basically like this:


Once the eggs are reasonably well mixed in, you start adding your milk. I like to add one cup at a time. I hate having to add flour after the milk because you are guaranteed to get lumps. Well, maybe you aren’t but I do, every time. So, add your liquids (milk, milk alternatives to the batter as you’re mixing. One cup at a time (this is one of the only times I’m fussy but it’s worth it, trust me). Keep adding the liquid until you have a fairly runny batter. Runnier than regular, Norther American pancakes but not as freely flowing as water.



Can you see the drips on the beater? It kind of gives an idea of how runny I like them but your mileage may vary. Some people like them thicker and eggier, some like thinner and more crepe like.


Once the batter is smooth and lumpless (ok, I go for the 80-90% lumpless range. I often regret it when I get a lump of flour or goo but whatever) pour it into a hot pan sizzling with a generous dollop of butter. I like to turn the pan on after I’ve added the milk to the batter. I use cast iron so it takes some time for it to heat and cool down. Just make sure the pan is sizzling when you pour in the first one. For my skillet it’s about a 1/2 c for each pan but you’ll just have to practice and see what works for you. Like to leave the heat just a little higher than medium. I’ve learned that cooking too fast means the flour leaves a mealy texture and inevitably, I burn some. It turns out there is some merit in being patient. Who knew?










Keep a close eye on things so they don’t scorch. When you see the edges looking done (they look cooked and almost dry or crispy) it’s time to flip. Feel free to add more butter at this time – yes, even in non stick pan. Maybe especially then (I’m not a non-stick fan). Anyway, you can minimize the butter if you want but these babies are not about restraint, they’re about going for it.



Do you see what I mean about the edges here? Also – I leave that little vacant spot at the side to make it easier to flip. No, that wouldn’t pass in Hell’s Kitchen but whateves.




Browned and delicious. Not too crusty or it will be hard to roll up. I like mine rolled up with whipped cream and fruit. No, there’s no picture of that though we did have them with cream and fresh cherries last night. I’m sure you can understand why there’s no picture.


Other toppings/fillings include jams, icing sugar and lemon, yogurt, applesauce, chocolate. And I’m sure there are savories that would be good too but we tend to the sweet when enjoying these babies.


Also- they make a fine breakfast.


Reheat in the frying pan (with butter).


This morning I added apricot jam:



So not a bad way to start the day.



Farm life, Foraged food, Musings, Recipes


This year, I want to learn how to make better use of these wonderful herbs…. I have been researching all of the things that people do with them.

On my list of things to try there is:


Dandelion soda




Dandelion wine:



Dandelion syrup:



Dandelion marmlade:



And with the roots:



And maybe this:



Or coffee:



Or dandelion pesto pasta:




My only question is – what happens if I run out of dandelions before I get to try allof these things?


Botanical - Dandelion- engraving - hand colored
Because it is such a great drawing.


Bread, Recipes

Sourdough… in detail

Well, I had no idea so many of you were curious about the whole sourdough thing. So, here I am, Sunday morning after enjoying some sourdough toast and tea, expanding on the whole sourdough process.

First, I made my starter with fresh ground rye flour and our well water. If you live in an area that treats the water you might want to use some distilled water to get your starter started. Treated water has all sorts of stuff in it that could (or will, in the case of chlorine) impede the development of the beneficial organisms (in this case naturally occurring yeast and lactobacilli

Aww. Aren't they cute?
Aww. Aren’t they cute?
). If you’re stuck with treated water and like me, there’s no way you’re going to spend money on distilled water you could let your water sit out for 24hrs to allow the additives to dissipate. I think you could also use water that’s been boiled (potato water has been traditionally used) but I can’t promise results. I don’t know if that would do enough to the chlorine to let the nutrients develop.

Another thought though… the process of making starter means you’re leaving it sit out for days. If the yeast is truly in the air and not on the flour (as some assert), it shouldn’t matter that you started with chlorinated water. I’m going to bring some home from work and give it a try, I think. I mean think about it, if I’m saying to leave your water on the counter for 24hrs and the chlorine will be gone, why would it matter if there is flour in it during that time? Hmmmm… An experiment! I love experiments!

So back to my sourdough. Once you’ve mixed your fresh ground, whole grain flour and non-treated (or maybe treated) water leave it uncovered on your counter overnight. How much of each should you use? Well, I don’t do the whole precise weights and measures thing (which may be part of why I have spectacular failures, from time to time) but I start off with about two tablespoons and add enough water to make a thick slurry. In truth, it’s guess work anyway. It depends on the fibre content of your flour, how fresh the flour is and so on. If you have to use store bought please do – better to make it with less fresh flour than not at all I say. As for white flour? I haven’t used it so I can’t say but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work. Maybe that could be another experiment (and yes, I do have white flour here).

So you’ve mixed it and left it overnight. In the morning you rush over to it and… nothing. That’s ok – you’re going to feed it again. Use the same general guideline. A Tbsp or so of the fresh ground flour and then enough water to thin it out (but not so that it’s fully liquid). You’re going to do that twice a day until you see bubbles on there.


As time goes on, if your starter isn’t too cold, you will see that it will expand after feeding it (bear this in mind when you’re selecting a container to start your starter, by the way). I keep mine fairly cool. It lives on the window sill over the sink. I do this because I have been known to forget to feed it, because I can easily warm it up, if I want more growth and I don’t forget it when it’s staring me in the face every time I’m at the sink.

After about a week 9mine usually takes about 11 days because I keep it slow), your starter should be ready for use. You’ll know because it will smell like sourdough and be bubbly and seem active.

How do you use it? Well, here’s another one of those places that I’m not a good one for a standard recipe. I poured about 3/4 of my starter into my bread bowl, add enough flour to make a very wet dough (almost a muffin or loaf batter kind of thickness). For this batch I used a rye starter (with oat flour one day when I was out of rye and kamut and had to rush off to work). For the dough I used more rye flour and a bit of white. I think 2/3 rye to 1/3 white? Something like that. I add about a tsp of salt to it too, to try and keep the yeast a bit under control and for flavour. I would add a bit more salt next time, for flavour.

One really important note that I just learned (and would have helped me a have a slightly less sour bread) is to pour off the hooch when it forms. Hooch is the dark liquid that sits on top of your starter and does contain alcohol (some people do drink it). My starter formed hooch nearly daily and I was stirring it in. Unless you like your bread to taste like a good apple cider vinegar you might want to feed it a bit more often than I did (which is why so much hooch formed) and pour off the hooch. The taste isn’t bad but it is strong. I suspect you could use the hooch for other things but haven’t done that research yet.

After all of that, I leave it to rise for 12 hrs (or more, depending on how the day goes). When I’m ready to bake I take my cast iron cauldron (ok, it’s just a dutch oven but cauldron is way more fun), throw it in my oven (empty and with its lid on) and crank the temperature up to 500* (yep, that really is 500*). When it’s to temperature, I pull the cauldron out and pour the batter/dough in. I replace the lid and put it back in the oven. Oh, and try to remember before putting it in the oven, to take a super sharp knife and slash three cuts in the top. I never do and believe me, even with a real wet, battery dough, you want to.

At this point I turn the temperature down to 375* and bake it for an hour to an hour and 15 (depending on how wet it is, how much dough there is, etc.). At this point I check it. If the top is too brown but it needs more baking, I leave it in covered for another 15-20 mins. If the top is pale and it needs more baking, I take the lid off and bake it for 15-20 mins.

If, like I did yesterday, I take it out, let it cool and cut it only to find out I misjudged and it’s not quite baked enough, I put it back in at 375* for, well, as long as I think needed. Yesterday it was about 25 mins.

And for breakfast this morning:

I know it’s not the prettiest but it is my first 100% naturally leavened bread and it was delicious.

Philosophy, Recipes

A dodgey business

So, I had some other thoughts I wanted to post about today (like my first loaf of totally sourdough – no commercial yeast – bread) but, while looking for some recipes I stumbled across something that could best be described as, well, dodgey.

So, here I am looking for a yummy recipe and as I have some ideas of what I’d like to use up, I put them in google. As an example:

carrot, apple, berry, yogurt, muffin recipe

And of course, google gifted me with a bunch of options. So, I’m cruising through the recipe options, drooling as I go and realizing I’m in danger of spending more time reading blogs and recipes than actually baking, when I realize something. I quickly switch back and forth between a few pages… yep… I really am seeing what I think I’m seeing. Roughly the same recipe which on two pages are attributed to another page (the same one, in fact) but the third page isn’t attributed to anything. Curious. So, I go to the page referenced by the other pages. Strange. Did that page, a very well known cooking site that I suspect is the primary source of income for the owner, steal from this other homesteady page which is also selling ad space and clearly trying to generate revenue? I start checking dates. Nope, the attributed page is from two years ago where the other page is from this summer. Well, it happens that we write down a recipe and think it’s ours, I guess. But then I realize the write up is the exact same on both pages which is really odd because it’s all about fresh fruit and climate but the original (which is now clearly the original) is from the UK and the other one is from the Southern USA.

Now as I said, it would be easy to jot down a recipe and forget it’s home – you could easily be forgiven for thinking you’d invented it. But copying the whole page of text that goes along with it? That’s a dodgey business. Even dodgier when you start looking at the other recipes and realizing they’re also ripped. Rather than give that site more traffic, I just stopped looking.

It just seemed odd to me – especially as this was a “whole foods, live honestly, back to the land” kind of site. I guess people like that can be a bit (seemingly) dishonest but it just seemed strangely incongruent.

As for the bread? It’s not very pretty, not like this loaf:


(ripped from Wikipedia)

but it was all naturally leavened and did rise. It is cooling right by me and I can smell the tang of the sourdough. I hope it’s delicious.

I’ve got my next batch of start underway and hope to do a better job with photos so I can report on it. I have learned a tonne about fermenting lately and can’t wait to share that information.