Another typical Dutch food as part of my Dutch food series are poffertjes. Poffertjes look like very small little pancakes, just a couple (maybe 5) cm in diameter! It seems as if these poffertjes were already eaten in country fairs about 300 years ago.
Poffertjes can be found in most fairs in the Netherlands, but also the modern version of street food: food trucks, tend to make them. It’s a bit of a nostalgic treat. The ‘proper’ wa to eat them is covered fully with icing sugar (see photo further on) and some butter smathered on top.
That made it the perfect for reviewing a recipe and its history.
A poffertjespan & a recipe
Making poffertjes isn’t too complicated if you’ve made yeast risen pancakes before. However, to make ‘real’ poffertjes you need one specific tool: a poffertjespan. This pan is nothing more than a pan with a lot of little indents in which the poffertjes can be made (see photo at the top of this post). The poffertjes are baked in these little spaces until brown and cooked.
- 125g flour (original versions contain 50% wheat and 50% buckwheat flour)
- pinch of salt
- 2 tsp yeast
- 75g butter
- 1 egg
- 200ml milk
- Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.
- Melt the butter in a small bowl, make sure it is not too hot.
- Add the butter, egg and milk to the dry ingredients. Mix through with a spatula. No need for any prolonged stirring.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm spot for about one hour.
- Pre-heat the poffertjespan on a medium high heat. Coat the pan with some butter.
- Quickly fill all the little holes with some batter. I simply pour the mixture straight from my bowl, going as fast as I can. You might want to turn down the heat or fill only part of the pan to prevent the first ones burning before the last ones are in.
- Turn over quickly, the bottom should have just set, the top should still be wet. If you turn too late they tend to stick to the pan (in my case at least).
- Take from the heat once both sides are a nice brown colour.
- Eat with plenty of icing sugar and butter.
Poffertjes baking along in the poffertjespan. The book on the left, the Banketbakker is the book from which I used the recipe.
Poffertjes & Its history
Even nowadays you don’t tend to find poffertjes in most restaurants, it still is a ‘fair food’. While digging through some poffertjes history I noticed it has been like that for most of the time, ever since the 18th century. In these fairs carts would come with a large steel frame in which they would have the poffertjes cavities. This frame would be heated by wood or gas and the poffertjes could be made and served.
The oldest still operational poffertjes stand is the one in Laren (according to their website). It is more than a 100 years old and breathes poffertjes tradition.
Even though poffertjes seem to have always been a yeast risen batter the original recipes don’t seem to be as ‘rich’ as the one I just shared. Whereas my recipe contains quite a bit of butter, the original recipes seem to be plainer with just flour, water and yeast and maybe some milk.
There seems to be some discussion on the origin of the poffertjes. They might have even originated from France, but there are also a lot of other possible explanations since each region in the Netherlands seemed to have their own traditions in which poffertjes showed up. The name might have changed over time though.
Most of the history of poffertjes comes from the website of the Dutch bakery museum.