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Friday, April 8, 2011

Finnish buttermilk crepes/pancakes (lätty,lettu, lätyt in Finnish--plätt in Swedish--plett in Norwegian...)

These little crepes are very traditional little pancakes in Finland and the rest of Scandinavia.  I made these as a special treat yesterday when the kids came home from school.  I love my "new" antique cast iron pancake pan that I found over spring break, and I'm really enjoying cooking with it.  And everyone else is enjoying eating what I cook...

Sorry about the long title for this post--there is some confusion as to what these are called.  Some might even call them pannukakku in Finnish (pancake), but I agree with those that reserve the word panukakku for Finnish oven pancakes, like in this post.  By the way, you could substitute these crepes to eat on Thursday with the pea soup if you want!  ;D

I used the recipe from The Finnish Cookbook by Beatrice Ojakangas, her ingredient list is:

2 eggs
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (2.5 dl)
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup white flour (2.5 dl)
butter for frying

I doubled all the ingredients (and still didn't have quite enough once the teenagers started eating...)

Beat the eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl, then add the salt, buttermilk, melted butter and flour.

Beat this until smooth with a whisk.  Then the original recipe says to let it rest for at least an hour.  I let it rest about 15 minutes to let the bubbles settle and make sure all the flour was moistened.  The kids don't come home at the same time, and I fried them fresh for each one, so some batter sat for more than the suggested hour.  We really couldn't tell the difference between the first and the last ones.  I think 15 minutes is plenty of resting time, but this keeps well if you need to wait to cook them.  It should keep fine even overnight if covered and refrigerated.

To fry the crepes, I used this pan with indentations.  If you don't have a pan like this, you could make them in a small nonstick frying pan or other small skillet.

I started by putting butter in each indentation and letting it melt as the pan heated up.  Be careful, butter burns really easily!  As soon as the butter started to melt, I filled each indentation with batter.  When the cast iron pan got really hot and they started to steam, I immediately turned it off.  (If you are using a lighter-weight skillet, just turn it down to low, but a thick pan like this stays hot for a long time).

Crepes don't have any baking powder or baking soda in them, so they don't have little bubbles when it is time to flip them (like American pancakes would).  Instead, they kind of poof up in the middle from the trapped steam, and you can see in this photo that they are starting to get firm around the edges, these are ready to turn over:

The goal with these is to not let them get too brown.  These can be a bit more brown than traditional crepes, but be careful not to burn them.  I used this small old brownie server to turn them in the small indentations (it belonged to my grandmother), it worked perfectly.

We ate these with blueberry soup, you can find the recipe here.  Or you could serve them with jam and/or whipped cream.

They were so delicious, I need to go shopping now for more buttermilk before the kids get home!


  1. Thank you for this wonderful explanation of an old Finnish tradition of delicacy! My late wife was a lettu enthusiast, and I have continued to carry on the custom. We have been creating a lot of smoke by using a really hot pan, but sounds like you have found a more subdued way around this problem. Also, while buttermilk is definitely the best, we also make them with regular milk.

  2. Thanks for this great blog! I live in western finland, and my family have always changed like 1/4 of wheat flour with barley flour. It makes lättys, in my opinion, even tastier and thinner. I dont like pure wheat lättys so much but with barley they are delicious!

  3. Nice tip! I will try that next time. It makes sense that barley flour would make it thinner (because of the lower gluten content), and I agree, the thinner the better!

  4. Nice tip! I will try that next time. It makes sense that barley flour would make it thinner (because of the lower gluten content), and I agree, the thinner the better!

  5. My grandma used to make these and they were so good! Thank you for the recipe!