Lettu, lätty, räiskäle, ohukainen - Finnish pancakes have many names. In terms of pancakes Finland is closer to France than US: Finnish lettu is thin, just like French crepes, and definitely not as fluffy and spongey as American pancakes. In Finland lettu and pancake, pannukakku, are two different things: lettu is fried on a frying pan, while pancake is baked in the oven. The best lettu is made on open fire using a cast iron pan.
Here's a very basic lettu recipe (it's difficult to say the exact amounts, since I never measure the lettu ingredients):
5 dl milk
2 to 3 dl flour
0,5 tea spoon salt
2 table spoon melted butter
Some more butter for frying
Melt some butter on frying pan. Pour some dough on the pan. Let it fry. Turn around (with a spatula or by casting the lettu in the air). Let it fry. Take it a aside. Next one. Enjoy with strawberry jam and whipped cream.
And now let's get to the point - the reason why lettu is such a brilliant dish: you can make tens or hundreds of variations without actually loosing the essence. I've listed some of the variations here, but I'm sure everyone has their own:
- If you have issues with milk, you can replace the milk with soda water (vichy) and butter with oil.
- Replace part of the wheat flours with barley or buckwheat to get more rustic feeling.
- Mix some nettles or spinach into the dough and have smoked fish and cheese on top - that's a proper lettu-lunch.
- Mix some blood into the dough and you'll get blood pancakes, verilettu. Sounds horror but it makes a proper meal. Serve with lingonberry jam.
- Back to less hard core mixes: blueberries and/or banana in the dough give a nice touch too.
- Pancake dough made of buckwheat and yeast turns into blini. Serve with sour cream, onion, mushrooms, roe and salted fish. Heavenly.
- Mix the leftover porridge into pancake dough, put it into oven and you'll have Åland style pancake. That'll keep the hunger away for some time.
But one thing I'm a bit surprised about: Finnish restaurants serve lettu very seldom as dessert. I can't understand why. Well, Sodexho and other lunch restaurants serve pancake, pannukakku almost every Thursday as dessert, and sometimes some bad industrial lettu. But I mean that you can't see lettu very often on the menus of real restaurants. I think the only restaurant where I've had lettu as dessert is restaurant Savu - and their lettu plate is really good!