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Perfect pancake has a Swedish accent

(ran TTS, TNS editions)

There is a point at which pancakes are closer to dessert than breakfast, or perhaps they become an excuse for substituting one for the other.

The standard breakfast pancake is a fairly lean mixture that goes by what you might call the rule of one: one cup each milk and flour, one egg, one teaspoon baking powder, and maybe a tablespoon each of sugar and melted butter. Most people compensate for that leanness by adding butter and maple syrup at the table.

A rich pancake, like those often served in Sweden, takes those proportions and skews them, boosting the proportion of eggs, butter and sugar at the expense of flour. As with brownies or cookies, when you increase fat and sweetness and decrease filler _ that's what flour is, after all _ the results are indisputably better.

And when you eliminate baking powder, using beaten egg whites instead for leavening, you both add and subtract: The pancakes are supremely light and airy, and the slightly chemical taste of baking powder is absent.

The Swedes use a special pan for these plattar, as they are called, so all are the same size, which is smaller than American pancakes. But I use a tablespoon, which works almost as well.

Once you add the flour, do not stir the batter any longer than is necessary to combine the ingredients; you will cause too much gluten to develop and make the pancakes tough. The egg whites should be stirred in gently and not especially thoroughly.

Cook these pancakes quickly, over fairly high heat, in a lot of butter.

The pancakes are so rich and delicious they can be served with nothing more than a dusting of confectioners' sugar.

But they are sweet enough so that you can serve them (as is often done in Sweden) with lingonberry or other tart preserves (cranberry sauce is great) or even a little lemon juice.

Yogurt or sour cream also complement the pancakes nicely, as do any sweet jam or preserves or, for that matter, whipped cream.

Swedish Pancakes

3 eggs

\ cup sugar

Pinch salt

1 cup milk

} cup flour

3 tablespoons melted butter, more for cooking

Confectioners' sugar for dusting

Time: 30 minutes.

Separate eggs, and beat yolks in a medium bowl with sugar and salt. Add milk and flour alternately, stirring gently after each addition, to form a thin, smooth batter. Stir in melted butter. (Batter can be covered and refrigerated for up to a day.)

Beat egg whites until they hold stiff peaks. Gently stir them into batter; do not worry about fully incorporating them. Heat a cast iron or nonstick skillet or griddle over medium-high heat; when a drop of water skips across it before evaporating, it's ready.

Melt some butter in pan, and, using a tablespoon, scoop up a bit of batter and put it in pan. Cook as many pancakes at once as will fit comfortably, turning them when they are brown. Total cooking time is less than 5 minutes per pancake.

Serve, sprinkled with confectioners' sugar. Yield: 4 servings.