Saffranspannkaka, or saffron pancake, is a delicacy most strongly associated with the Swedish island Gotland.
The history of saffron pancake
I’ll have to find more sources on Gotland’s saffron pancake, but let’s start with what we’ve got so far. Jan-Öjvind Swahn states that the first time saffron is mentioned in Sweden is in 1328, for the bill for the funeral of St Birgitta’s father. Because of trade connections through the Hanseatic League, the people of Gotland seems to have been in the forefront when it comes to tasting and using saffron.
In Svensk Allmogekost, Nils Keyland mentions a pancake in Kräcklingbo on Gotland that consisted of rice porridge, raisins, egg, sugar, and flour. The cake was flavored with cardamom, bitter almond, and saffron. This would have been in the 19th century. Cardamom, bitter almond, and saffron were expensive, meaning that this was a festive dish, served at weddings, Christmas, and other festivities.
But according to Keyland, we have similar dishes in other parts of Sweden, too. Rice puddings aren’t unusual—for example, in Sko in Uppland, they baked a cake on Christmas Eve made of rice, raisins, syrup, and egg. In Älvros in Härjedalen, they made “a type of pancake made of rice” which was spiced with nutmeg or polypore. A recipe that is closer to the Gotland variety is from Delsbo in Hälsingland, where rice pancakes were made for festive occasions, “flavored with raisins, saffron, and a little sugar”, according to Keyland. Lillie Clinell found similar recipes in Bjuråker and Ljusdal. However, neither of these recipes seem to include almond.
Regardless of the similar recipes from other landscapes, the saffron pancake is strongly associated with Gotland today, and tourists wisely try to experience it while visiting the island.
How to make saffron pancake from Gotland
This seems to be one of those recipes where I can’t claim any authenticity as I am not from Gotland, but… I’d still say this is delicious. As a bonus, it is naturally gluten-free.
The saffron pancake is often served whipped cream and European dewberries, salmbär, which is similar to blackberries. This dessert is quite filling, but expect to get 6-8 portions out of this:
1 dl (0,6 cups) almonds
1 liter (4 cups) rice porridge
0,5 gr saffron
1,5-2 tbsp sugar
1,5 dl (0,6 cups) cream
0,5 tsp vanilla powder
optional: a little bit of grated bitter almond
a little butter to grease the tin
Serving: whipped cream, salmbär or blackberry jam
- Turn the oven on 175°C (345°F).
- Blanch the almonds (remove the skin) and chop them finely.
- Stir porridge, saffron, sugar, eggs, cream, vanilla powder, chopped almonds, and possibly a touch of grated bitter almond in a large bowl until it is well blended.
- Grease an oven-proof dish and pour the mixture into it.
- Bake for about 30-35 minutes, until it has a little bit of color and has set.
- Let it cool. Serve cold or luke-warm with whipped cream and jam. Store any leftovers in the fridge — it keeps well for a few days.