Just Add Butter

by wjw on September 28, 2019

IMG_0266So many thanks to my lovely wife Kathy for improving my recovery by making this taste from my childhood, Finnish pancakes.

Finnish pancakes are wide as a frypan and thin, like crepes, except they’ve got way more butter and eggs in them.  My mom made them throughout my boyhood, but like all her recipes, she was never able to give a recipe to anyone.  She didn’t know measurements and portions, it was all in her head.  Of my family, no one else in my generation had a recipe, either, and for the same reasons.  I thought I’d lost the taste forever.

Of course it’s different now, when you have this thing called the “worldwide web,” where you can look up any damn thing, and find a recipe like this one.

Or you can find the pancakes in the wild, which I did last year.  I was on vacation in Minnesota, where I planned to visit my family and then spend a week in the outdoors, doing a lot of hiking on Lake Superior Trail or whatever.  Except in the middle of that trip my hip began to act up, and I had to cancel all my plans because everything I intended to do was too painful.  So I was stuck with going wherever my rental car would go, and that turned out to be Thunder Bay, Ontario, because I’d never been there.

Now when I was a kid and lived in Minnesota, there was no place called Thunder Bay, there were two communities called Fort William and Port Arthur, who decided to merge, I suppose, and they got rid of their imperialist British names and adopted the coolest name they could think of, which I guess was Thunder Bay.

Anyway, it turns out that Thunder Bay had a large Finnish immigrant community, which I never knew about, and right in the middle of the Finnish neighborhood is the Finnish Labour Temple, an Edwardian-style building with a tower, for all your labour-organizing needs.  Because one of the things that laborers need is good food at reasonable prices, the Temple features a restaurant called the Hoito, which has been around for 98 years and is “is perhaps the oldest co-operatively owned and operated restaurant in Canada.”

So I went in and ordered the pancakes and this whole taste of my childhood arrived, and it was all quite wonderful, and I spent the whole day in a transport of nostalgia.  The next day I had the pancakes for breakfast and then drove back south through a rainstorm that poured down all day, creating a flood that later exploded out of my hotel toilet.

So now I’ve had my hip replacement and I’m stuck at home being bored and out of sorts, and out of the kindness of her heart Kathy has recreated one of the great lost tastes of my childhood.  Hurrah!

If you want to enjoy this taste for yourself, follow the recipe linked above, then serve with fruit compote (lingonberry is traditional) or with maple syrup, in either case along with enough butter to paint a barn.

Shash September 28, 2019 at 1:00 pm

Not being Finnish, I grew up calling them Swedish pancakes but with a very similar recipe. Mom would serve them with cinnamon sugar because lingonberries and cloud berries were hard to come by. Sheer heaven!

I love the drive to ‘tunder bay. Now, I may have to make a trip but after the fall color madness that is this weekend dies away.

Mike Christie September 29, 2019 at 11:07 am

Thanks Walter. Made them for my family this morning and recounted their/your history. Everybody was very pleased with them. They’re noticeably more ‘eggy’ than the ‘french’ crepes I usually make, but the warm maple-syrup set that off nicely.


Phil Koop October 1, 2019 at 4:43 pm

Those look just like the pancakes my grandmother used to make! It must be a Baltic thing, because we aren’t Finnish. I remember as a child thinking it odd that they were served with fruit sauce; “normal” pancakes were always served with syrup!

Susan B October 1, 2019 at 9:20 pm

Those pancakes look really good; hope I can remember that I downloaded the recipe a month from now when I get my kitchen back after the remodeling is (hopefully) finished. The appropriate skillet and my flour may be somewhere in a box in the shed where most of my kitchen has been since early September.

A good friend of mine had a hip replacement a while back and she said that the recovery from the surgery didn’t hurt nearly as much as her hip had before. Hope you are getting better.

Chong Go October 10, 2019 at 12:57 pm

Wow, those bring back memories! My Dad made them, but always called them Swedish pancakes (the recipe came from my Swedish grandfather), and had a huge electric, round griddle for making them. I don’t think it was Swedish, but I’ve never seen another like it.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post:

Contact Us | Terms of User | Trademarks | Privacy Statement

Copyright © 2010 WJW. All Rights Reserved.