There was hardly any time to take photos as my husband and kids came back home and got all curious about what I was making in the kitchen.
The first time I ate poffertjes was back in 1989. I’ll help you out, that’s 21 years ago! Gosh, I sure grew up since. But in the past twenty-one years I could not forget those tiny sort-of-like pancake puffs, very generously dusted with powdered sugar and bathed in melted butter, that I have seen only in Holland. If you must, they also sell them with a “side” of whipped cream and strawberries. Need I say more? I was much skinnier back then, and 21 years younger, and I burnt a lot of calories walking in those pre-car years, so I could eat them with no limits, which is exactly what I did.
I was during a trip to Holland with my father to visit his sister and her family who still live there. It was one of the best trips of my life. We got there in the summer – already a good start since it’s pretty cold in Holland right now, see below? (These are photos my aunt took from the plane on her way to sunny Thailand) – everything was beautiful, new, different, and exciting.
We visited a few towns, Amsterdam (Fries drenched in mayonnaise was the most common street food and I loved it. Forget about ketchup. Mayo is the best!), Den Hagg, Rotterdam (Where we went to a night club and I received a lot of attention form the Dutch boys, who tried to guess whether I am Italian, French, or Spanish and approached me speaking those languages), Delft (Where we had poffertjes again, this time with whipped cream and strawberries. There were lots of bees fighting to have some too. Luckily, we didn’t get stung), and Bergen op zoom (Beautiful train ride, visiting relatives, then a bike ride, and a lovely market. Oh, and the first time I had mashed potatoes with bacon bits in it! It was love at first bite! I can’t forget that either.)
I’ve never seen such a flat land before, and so green, with so much water! Lots and lots of water, bikes, cows, grass, cheese, gorgeous brick houses, red brick paved streets, beautiful people. Here are a few photos I scanned from that trip, taken a long long time ago:
Me and my father on a touristic boat tour
Me in a mini-Holland
I used lipstick back then…
and my aunt Rachel wanted to put more makeup on me… but then she got busy… She loves to shop, dress up, and tan!
Pigeons. (Blech. They’re like rats with wings. I really didn’t want to stand there.) But see the building in the background!
Bike ride near Bergen op zoom. I’m not very good on a bike. Thank goodness this land is flat!
You know what these are
Cows, cows everywhere
A beautiful fishermen village
That trip was so wonderful that since then I automatically love anything Dutch and poffertjes (pronounced: poh-fer-tchuhs) will be forever in my mind. I did have poffertjes a few times in the past years but they were from a boxed mix and my husband was the one who burnt them, eeehh, made them, so it didn’t feel like the real thing. Fortunately, recently I got to virtually know Simone and her lovely blog Junglefrog cooking, and it turned out she is Dutch. (She also had a guest post about food photography and cameras, here). We exchanged a few comments and e-mails that turned into sharing recipes for poffertjes. Simone sent me a recipe that was titled “Oud Hollandse Poffertjes” and it immediately made me smile at the sound of the unfamiliar words and accent.
So finally today was my first time ever of making Poffertjes! It’s a historic day! A dream come true!
A little research on the internet revealed a few versions and we decided to try a recipe with eggs because it sounded richer than those without any. Simone said that buckwheat flour is traditional so we kept that and here’s a little photo she sent me showing her poffertjes pan:
I found that it takes some practice to make them right and you need to work fairly quickly. By the 4th batch I got better.
Of course, after the first batch I could no longer wait (the husb and kids were not at home yet) so I stopped the process and took a little taste break.
It wasn’t quite the taste that I remembered. It was good, I liked it, but the flavor was a bit sour, I think this might have been because of too much yeast (I’ll try to make it next time with smaller amount). I don’t know how buckwheat flour tastes. This was the first time I’ve had anything made with this flour so I think that maybe it added some of the sourness to the flavor as well. I believe the ones I had in Holland a million light years ago were made with regular/all-purpose flour so next time I’ll try to have more of that and less of the buckwheat. By the 4th batch though, the poffertjes tasted better, mellower, maybe because it had more time to sit and develop the flavors. I wonder what it would have tasted like if the batter was left to rise slowly in the fridge overnight.
For frying and portioning, first I used my smallest cookie scoop I have, then I tried pouring the batter from a cup, but I found that it worked best with a small teaspoon. This helped not overfilling the pan cavities which results in overflowing poffertjes.
I know there’s a special fork for turning the poffertjes in order to fry them on both sides but I don’t have one, so I used two heat-proof (silicon) spatulas. I also used a silicon brush to grease the hot pan with melted butter as well as the cooked poffertjes (instead of pouring a stream of melted butter on top. I know, it sounds better.)
If you don’t have a poffertjes pan, try adding teaspoonfuls of the batter to create the mini pancakes in a regular non-stick pan.
OK, ‘nough with technicalities, here’s the recipe:
Makes 80-100 tiny pancakes
3dl (1 1/4 cups) milk
10g (2.5 teaspoons) dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
100 grams (3/4 cup; 3.5 oz.) all-purpose flour
150g (1 cup; 5.25 oz.) buckwheat flour
2 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter, plus 4-5 tablespoons for frying
Whipped cream – optional
Fresh fruit – optional
Warm the milk in the microwave for about 40 seconds to 35 C (90-100 F) degrees.
In a small bowl, mix the yeast, sugar, and milk until dissolved.
Sift the flours together in a big mixing bowl. Make a little hole in the middle and pour the yeast mixture in it. Do not stir. Cover the hole with flour and let it rest for 15 minutes in a warm place.
Mix the yeast mixture and flour, then add the eggs, vanilla, salt, and 2 tablespoons of melted butter and mix until smooth. Let the dough rise, covered, for 1 hour in a warm place.
Put the poffertjes pan on the stovetop over medium-low to low heat and lightly grease the cavities with melted butter using a heat-proof (like silicon) brush. Fill the cavities only half-way with batter.
Cook over medium-low to low heat (adjust as needed) until the poffertjes are golden brown, then flip to the other side and cook to golden brown (They are ready to be flipped when tiny air bubbles appear on top and the bottom has set).
If the pan gets too hot, take it off the heat, grease with melted butter for the second batch and fill with more batter. Return to heat and continue the same way with the next batches.
Arrange the cooked poffertjes on a (warmed) plate, dust with powdered sugar and pour/brush melted butter on them before serving. Extras: Serve with whipped cream and fresh fruit.