17 September 2008

Do Donuts Dream of Electric Jelly?

I can't say, but I can tell you any Dunkin' Donuts munchkin dreams of being one of these: a warm, pillowy aebleskiver.

Aebleskiver are traditional Danish donuts that I first heard about while nearly falling asleep during a meeting with some jam purveyor, back when I was a food editor and companies would come to pitch their products in the hopes of getting into the food pages. They'd shower you with samples and gifts, seeking that priceless printed editorial approval (otherwise known as free advertising).

This one came bearing marionberry jam, an adorable, seven-holed cast-iron pan and instant mix for making aebleskiver. And it worked- I made sure the company's jam was featured the next holiday issue gift guide.

I never forgot how delicious those hot little donuts were, dusted with powdered sugar and slathered with the berry jam, but years went by before I stumbled across a recipe for them in a 1960s New York Times regional America cookbook.

There it was, tucked into Midwest breads and desserts section, from Iowa. And I just knew aebleskiver would be perfect with a cup of green tea (oops, a Japanese sencha, not Pi Lo Chun- all that sugar made me forgot yesterday's vow) for breakfast today.

The only problem is how many I made. Someone has got to come help me eat these. Iowans, Danes, whoever.

Makes: about 35 donuts.

2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Vegetable oil
Confectioners' sugar and jam, for serving

1. Mix buttermilk, egg yolks and vanilla extract together. Sift flour, baking soda, salt and sugar into a medium-sized bowl.

2. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Pour buttermilk mixture into flour and stir gently to combine; gently fold in egg whites until just mixed.

3. Brush holes of aebleskiver pan lightly with oil and heat over medium-low. Carefully spoon batter into holes until about two-thirds full, and cook about 3 minutes for side, flipping with a knitting needle.

4. Remove to a serving platter and dust with confectioners' sugar. Spread with jam just before eating.

A few tips: Yes, traditionally you flip these with a knitting needle- possibly the best use for one yet. Resist the urge to fill the holes of the pan, as these do puff up substantially while cooking.

And be sure the pan is hot enough before you add the batter (the oil should sizzle if you sprinkle in a drop of water).

If the aebleskiver seem to be browning too fast, turn the heat down.

You want that beautiful golden-brown crust, but you need to give them enough time to cook all the way through.

These would also be delicious with butter, honey, maple syrup, lemon curd or even dusted with a bit of matcha mixed with the powdered sugar.

I should know, because I tried all of them.

There's something so satisfying about the jam, though, as it saturates the hot, fluffy dough just enough before you devour it.

(P.S. You can get the pan or a set here.)


montague said...

these look so amazing... oh decadence!

AC said...

yum! i want to stuff one into each cheek!!

Anonymous said...

wow these look really similar to the Dutch poffertjes (which my boyfriend got so addicted to on a recent trip that he bought the special pan!). Only these are much bigger and feature jam. Funny how national cuisines can cross borders!

onesilentwinter said...

they look so great!

Bonbon Oiseau said...

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmI wish I could eat those.