I went to college at Grand View (then Grand View College; now Grand View University), a Danish school in Des Moines. There were many wonderful things about being a Grand View Viking: a rich history with many interesting Danish traditions, small class sizes, excellent teachers, and every Christmas, an all-you-can-eat aebelskiver breakfast. Go, Vikings!
So what is aebelskiver? I had never heard that word before I went to Grand View. This traditional Danish pastry can be served for breakfast or as a dessert. It's like a cross between a pancake and a popover, with a pancake texture and a popover flavor, but in the shape of a ball, usually between golf ball and tennis ball size. Heavy cast iron aebelskive pans with round cups are used to make the treats. (Aebelskive is the singular form of the word; aebelskiver is plural.) A few years after graduation, I came across an old pan at an auction and snapped it up. I had never actually used it to make aebelskiver until today! (You can find aebelskive pans online, sometimes called pancake puff pans.)
This morning when I saw something on Facebook about today being National Donut Day, I thought I'd make some baked donuts for my still-sleeping boys. Then I remembered my aebelskive pan was tucked away in my cupboard, so I found a recipe on our sister site, BHG.com, and got to work. I like this recipe because it's basic and simple, and what I think traditional aebelskiver must have been like. It doesn't call for fancy ingredients, so the old-time Danish farm mom would have everything she needed on hand to whip these up for her family. The word aebelskiver is actually Danish for "apple slices" because traditionally, they would mix chopped apples into the batter. That would be delicious!
You can top the aebelskiver with powdered sugar, maple syrup, honey, jam, peanut butter, or whatever tickles your fancy. I had mine with honey and a mug of hot tea, and they were delicious. It definitely brought me back to Julefest breakfast at Grand View! The boys tried all kinds of toppings on theirs, but decided they liked strawberry jam the best.
It may take a little practice to perfect your method for flipping the aebelskiver. I tried using a fork, but found that using two wooden chopsticks worked best. I'd push on one side of the aebelskive with one chopstick, until it started to come up out of its cup, then would let the uncooked batter pour back into the cup and flip the shell over on top. In the old days, Danish ladies used their knitting needles to flip aebelskiver, which I think would work perfectly! I also had less trouble with sticking when I used non-stick spray rather than oil. Give this recipe a try, find which method works best for you, and share this delicious treat with your family, on Donut Day or any day at all!