Real German Cuisine Challenge: Hollerküchle (Elder flower pancakes)

by Christina Geyer on June 21, 2009 · 7 comments

This is a surprise bonus challenge, really sorry for the last minute notification.  I know that’s really lame.

Hollerküchle is battered and fried Holunder (elder, elderberry) flowers.  They can also be translated as elder flower pancakes.  I had no idea what an elder tree/bush looked like, and neither did Rainer, so I’d put this recipe aside and forgot about it.  After publishing last week’s challenge, I was flipping through the book again and rediscovered it.  The recipe note said Holunder only blooms for two weeks in May/June, and since June’s almost over, I figured I was out of luck.  But I thought, while it’s on my mind, I should ask the neighbors what a Holunder plant looks like, so that when the challenge to make soup with the berries comes up, I’ll have a clue.

Our landlord informed me that the Holunders were blooming right now, then took us on a walk to show us some.  We went and collected a bunch of the flower heads, then came home to cook.


A cluster of Holunder bushes

Elder flowers

Holunder blooms

The batter is made by first mixing egg yolks, milk, flour, sugar, salt and beer.  I used a Pils we borrowed from the neighbor, since we only had dark beer and some nasty beer-cola drink at home.  It’s then combined with whipped egg whites.  I thought the batter before adding the egg whites seemed a little think, so I added a tad more milk and beer.  This turned out to be a good idea, because the egg whites didn’t really lighten up the batter any more.  The pancakes turned out well, but they were a tad thick and didn’t really show the form of the flowers through.  Next time, I’ll add even more milk and beer, I think the consistency should be more on the thinner side.

Another hint, the flower heads tend to spread out when they hit the surface of the batter, so you really have to dunk them to coat all the flowers.  When you do this though, you get a ton of batter on the flower head.  I found twirling the flower heads to be an excellent way of getting rid of the excess batter.

Making Hollerküchle (Elder flower pancakes)
The flowers and the batter

The end result was really, really delicious.  Rainer is totally not into doing anything that makes more work in the garden, but has suggested that when we move to our own place, we should put 3-4 Holunder bushes in our garden so there are plenty of flowers to make this in the future.

We also took them over to the neighbors, who said that I’m cooking more German food than most Germans, and said that these were perfect.  They added that in Bavaria, Hefeweizen is used to give the pancakes a hint of yeast taste, but thought the Pils worked fine too.

Our neighbors shared some Holunder syrup with us, which is added to sparkling water to make a very refreshing drink.  They made it by soaking the blooms in some water, then removing the blooms and adding sugar, and I forget the rest, but I’m sure there are recipes online if you’re interested in making some yourself.

Hollerküchle (Elder flower pancakes)

I’m afraid that in most of the US, elders have probably already flowered, but I suspect that most of Germany (outside of the southwest, where it’s warmer), can probably still make this.  There were still plenty of blooms out on the Holunder bushes this evening.  And now that I know what they look like, they’re freakin’ everywhere.  They were especially common along the edges of woods.  I don’t think we’ll really need to plant so many bushes, cause it looks pretty easy to take a walk and collect them in the wild.

Other participants:

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Next challenge!

  • June 22, Rote Grütze (red berry jelly) – I’ll be posting this tomorrow morning
  • June 29, Bickbeerpfannkuchen (Bilberry pancakes) – A German version of blueberry pancakes.  While getting the berries for the Rote Grütze, I saw wild Heidelbeeren (wild bilberries) at the mushroom stand for sale and picked some up and made these today.  Delicious.  A warning that Heidelbeeren will turn your fingers and teeth blue.
  • July 6, Sauerampfersüpple (Sorrel soup) – Sorrel (Sauerampfer) might be hard to find, so I’m giving you guys a couple weeks to keep an eye out for it.  I bought Sorrel at the local garden shop and potted it up and now it’s sitting just outside my office window.  Rita says it grows wild and can be collected on a hike to make later.
  • July 13, Beeren-Kaltschale (Cold berry bowl) – Hopefully berry season won’t be over!

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