Millions of people in 32 countries have read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. In its homeland, Sweden, enough books have been bought for more than a quarter of the population to own a copy. There's a Swedish film version called Men who Hate Women, and talk of a Hollywood movie in the pipeline.
Outside Scandinavia many readers are interested in more than the plot and characters. We also enjoy a taste of Swedish life – and a taste of the food: smørrebrød open sandwiches, pickled herring, lots and lots of freshly-brewed coffee, and the “bacon pancakes with lingonberries” given to Larsson's investigating journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, on a trip to the far north Norrland.
A Swedish bacon pancake (fläskpannkaka) is typically cooked in the oven, not on top of the stove. Fatty salt pork is a traditional alternative to bacon, or you can use any kind of diced ham that works for you. This is an ea
sy-going recipe where you can vary things without disaster. It's a simple batter pudding (ugnspannkaka) that may remind British readers of toad-in-the-hole – also oven-baked batter but with sausages instead of pork/ham/bacon.
Make them like this:
Cut 6oz/170gm bacon into small chunks cook till crisp in a frying pan or hot oven.
Heat oven to 220C/425F.
Take a shallow ovenproof dish or roasting pan at least 30 cm/12 inches square, or 3 US quarts capacity, and heat half a stick, 60 gms, of butter in it.
- 4 eggs
- 1 US cup, or 125 gm of flour
- 2 US cups, nearly half a litre of milk – use less milk if you prefer a thicker batter
- Pinch salt if wanted
Making the batter in advance and 'resting' it for an hour or two is recommended by perfectionists.
Pour batter into the hot fat, sprinkle the bacon cubes on top, and bake for 20-30 mins until it looks puffy and well-browned. Time will vary according to depth of batter in dish etc.
There are lots of variations – try adding lemon zest or chives, put the ham in before the batter, and so on. Swedish tradition and Larsson's novels say you should serve it with lingonberries or lingonberry jam/jelly. You can also try cranberry or redcurrant jelly, strawberry jam, and/or a dusting of powdered sugar.
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