A Pudding By Any Other Name
Fiddling out the threads of your own ethnicity is a challenge when your historical roots generally prefer to keep themselves to themselves.
In my experience, it’s not that smart to go looking for German ethnic clubs and it’s not that common to find anyone who feels closely tied to their Danish roots.
These, however, are my strongest ethnic roots, and you can’t pick and choose those.
The safest way to connect with these roots is through food. No one can say a plate of German sausage, sauerkraut, and grainy mustard is offensive in and of itself. After you eat it, maybe, but when everyone in the house eats it, the smell is shared and shrugged off.
Enjoying too many Danish aebleskivers was a rite of passage for my sister-in-law. They’re deceptively small. Knock back four of those little things, wait five minutes, then stand up and see how much of a gut bomb those little wonders are!
And my father is still trying to figure out his mother’s klejner recipe. I had them once when they were amazing, but ever since then we were better off letting him reminisce rather than burn another batch in the fryer. To add additional “shame”, I like them glazed, but that’s not at all traditional.
One other family favorite comes from a little further down the immigrant line, but from the same source.
Some people call them “Puffed Oven Pancakes”, others call them “Yorkshire Pudding”. I call them “Hootin’ Annies” because that’s what I was raised to call them.
My family’s recipe came from my maternal side, the side that’s been here long enough that they crossed the United States with horses and carts during the western migration. It feels more likely this group ditched one of the former names – German pancakes, “Dutch babies” (these often have fillings), and/or Yorkshire pudding – and called it something a bit easier to embrace.
Since these cakes have to be cooked in something that contains steam (most often an oven), my family’s explanation goes that the steam hissed out of the Dutch oven cooker and they said it was “hooting”. Not sure where the Annie bit comes from, but having baked these myself, I can say it would make a funny sound in a badly sealed Dutch oven over a finicky fire.
While trying to satisfy my curiosity about how my humble hootin’ annie is related to the legendary Yorkshire pudding, I stumbled on a fabulous post over at Now You’re Cooking that does everything I hoped to! So, head over there, read up on popovers, and then go make one. They’re rather excellent, and not as terrifying as they’re made out to be.