A few weeks back I released a recipe for Danish gingerbread hearts, and we’re not done with Danish Christmas just yet. Æbleskiver are a traditional Danish Christmas baked good, and they are a spherical form of pancake. A sort of pancake ball. This is my recipe for sourdough æbleskiver.
Æbleskiver are a huge deal in Denmark. We will usually eat them at social gatherings up to Christmas. We get together and eat æbleskiver, drink Glögg (a sort of mulled wine) and we will often make decorations for the Christmas tree. In general, it’s about having a good time together, quintessential hygge. A Danish social concept.
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The history of æbleskiver
The word æbleskive literally means “slice of apple”.
The singular form is æbleskive and the plural form is æbleskiver. You rarely make just one. That is probably why it’s known as æbleskiver when people talk about a single æbleskive outside of Denmark.
Around 1700 several sources talk about æbleskiver, but those were pieces of apple, covered in flour and fried in butter. These still exist in a certain region of Denmark but are now known as “fried apple slices”.
Around the 1850s recipes for the current incarnation of æbleskiver started to show up. These pancake balls had a piece of apple or applesauce put inside of the balls, but this is rarely done today.
A famous book that depicts æbleskiver being made is called “Peters jul” (Peter’s Christmas) from 1866. It is a book that is often read to children during the Christmas month, even to this day.
This book also contains one of our most famous Christmas carols called “Højt fra træets grønne top” (High Upon Our Christmas Tree). In my family, it even comes with a special dance.
Danish Christmas traditions
If you are not familiar with Danish Christmas traditions, we celebrate Christmas on the evening of the 24th of December.
We’ll start with dinner, usually consisting of roast duck and/or roast pork with crispy crackling. Served with pickled red cabbage, boiled potatoes, caramel potatoes, and boatloads of gravy.
Then afterward, we form a circle around the Christmas tree. We’ll walk in circles around the tree while we sing carols and psalms. Afterward, we exchange gifts.
The formula in this sourdough æbleskiver recipe
In essence, this is a pancake batter. The batter in this sourdough æbleskiver recipe contains a preferment, that needs to ferment overnight.
Like any sourdough bread, this will make these baked goods healthier than the regular version, but you’d probably have to discount the jam and the powdered sugar from the health benefits.
They can probably be baked on the sourdough starter’s rising power alone, but just to make sure that you get them fluffy, a bit of baking soda is added.
An important ingredient to get the right taste is cardamom. Interestingly, the spices that are often associated with North African Cuisine, like cinnamon and cardamom, are common Christmas spices in Denmark.
I’m sure this has to do with the fact that they were probably expensive to get, but at Christmas, you’d splurge and get the fancy spices. Plus they seem to give whatever they are put in a sense of warmth.
Conclusion of this sourdough æbleskiver recipe
These æbleskiver are a delight. Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside.
Even though they were made using sourdough starter, there’s not a trace of sourness in them.
They are absolutely perfect paired with a black currant or raspberry jam and a little bit of confectioner’s sugar.
Please share on social media
This is my recipe for sourdough æbleskiver. I hope you will try to make them because they are utterly delicious.
If you make them and post them to Instagram, please tag med as @foodgeek.dk so I can see what you made. That would make me very happy.
Ad links! Links for equipment and ingredients in this recipe are affiliate links, which means I will get a commission if you purchase the product!
Danish sourdough æbleskiver
- 250 g all-purpose flour
- 250 g sourdough starter
- 30 g sugar
- 500 g milk
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 eggs
- 50 g butter
- 1 tsp table salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cardamom
Make the preferment – the evening before
- Mix the milk and the apple cider vinegar and leave it for about 5 minutes.
- Mix all the ingredients in the preferment.
- Leave it overnight on your kitchen counter covered by a dishtowel (about 12 hours).
Make the batter – the next day
- Heat your oven to 100°C/210°F/Gas mark ½.
- Melt the butter and leave it to cool; combine egg, melted butter, and the preferment in a bowl. Mix well.
- You can refrigerate the batter until you need it.
- Add baking soda and salt and mix well. The batter should bubble up.
- Heat an æbleskive pan to medium heat. Butter each hole in the pan.
- Add batter to each hole with about ⅕ inch to the top. Let the æbleskiver bake for about 1 minute.
- Using a trussing needle or a kebab skewer, turn all the balls a quarter turn.
- Fill the inside shell with a bit more batter and turn the ball to turn the finished part upwards. Finish baking the æbleskiver for about 2-3 more minutes.
- Keep the finished æbleskiver warm in the warm oven while you finish the rest.
- Repeat until the entire batch of the batter has been baked.
- Serve warm with a fruit jam of your choice and confectioner's sugar.