Make Ahead

Sveler (Norwegian Pancakes)

August 14, 2015
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes sixteen 4- to 5-inch pancakes
Author Notes

Sveler are Norwegian pancakes served primarily in ferry cafés along the country's west coast. They can be eaten cold and served with a variety of toppings. They taste best with a cup of coffee.

The key to a good svele is horn salt (also known as ammonium bicarbonate). If you don't have horn salt on hand, you can substitute baking powder—however, you will lose some of the pancakes' signature taste and texture. I would recommend keeping horn salt in your kitchen if for no other reason than these pancakes. If you do use horn salt, be sure not to eat the raw dough. —Hannah Petertil

What You'll Need
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 2/3 cups kefir
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon horn salt (ammonium bicarbonate)
  • Oil, as needed
  • Toppings: butter, sugar, sour cream, crème fraîche, berry jam, brunost
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until fluffy. The mixture should look aerated and pale. Depending on your arm strength this step can be a bit taxing. Continue whisking as you add the kefir. Set aside.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, and horn salt with a fork until well incorporated.
  3. Add your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients. Use a spatula to mix until just combined. Lumps are okay. Set aside for 30 minutes.
  4. Heat up a non-stick griddle or frying pan on medium-low heat. You should be able to cook all the pancakes without using any oil but it's always good to keep some on hand in case your pan needs it. Using a soup ladle (or a 1/3-cup measure) gently spread your dough into a 4- to 5-inch circle. Let the svele cook until the top is actively bubbling. Flip and cook on the second side. It might take a few tries to figure out the cooking time on your stove.
  5. Sveler taste great straight off the grill, but you can also cook these ahead of time and serve them cold. Traditionally they are served on ferries filled with a creamed butter and sugar combination (cream together equal parts butter and sugar) then folded in half. You can also fill or top them with sour cream/crème fraîche and your favorite berry jam. Or, slather on butter and top with thin slices of brunost. Once you have put your desired toppings in place, fold in half and enjoy with a cup of coffee.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Martin
  • Lea
  • Laura415
  • Ben

7 Reviews

Ben February 18, 2022
Hi, could you bake the baking soda on aluminum foil at 250°F for an hour to make ammonium bicarbonate? I know this is a trick you can use for ramen noodles. I'm not sure if it's the same concept. Thanks.
ann January 29, 2022
A great recipe to keep! I used white spelt flour instead of wheat and coconut sugar instead of white. Also used goat milk kefir and baking powder instead of ammonia as I didn’t have on hand. The result was great! Also very tasty when they are cold, so perfect to pack for lunch.
Jennifer J. November 12, 2018
I brought back a container of horn salt from Norway specifically so I could make these. I used thinned yogurt instead of kefir, otherwise made according to directions and they were yummy. We garnished them as advised to taste with jams, butter and brunost- looking forward to snacking on the cold leftovers later.
Martin July 2, 2017
This tasted like detergent. I had high hopes as they rose quite high and looked very soft, but the taste was terrible. I will try again, substituting kefir with something milder and the horn salt with baking powder.
Lea July 2, 2017
I cpuld nearly promise something besides kefir was the culprit. I use kefir exclusively instead of buttermilk in all cooking and baking and have never had that problem. I make amazing ranch dressing with kefir/mayo also. Think I'll skip the horn salt, I'd forgotten about this recipe, sounds good!
Lea December 29, 2016
What is the difference between baking soda and ammonium bicarbonate ? Wikipedia says ammonium bicarbonate is baking this a typo? Is one of them supposed to be baking powder?
Laura415 May 12, 2017
I looked up horn salt and it seems that it is source of ammonia in baking. Substitute baking powder for horn salt. So this recipe calls for both baking soda and baking powder. This site gives the most info so far.