Poffertjes! From the land of canals, beautiful architecture, the tallest people in the world, windmills, and wooden clogs: The Netherlands.
These little chubby, puffy pancakes are somewhat ubiquitous at Markets and even some cafes here in Australia. It seems to me they had a particular renaissance in the late 90s/early 2000s, but that’s pure speculation based on the fact that the cafe my Mum sometimes took us to after school started serving them. Either way, all you need to know is this: they are fat, puffy pancakes that eat with sugar and butter, and sometimes strawberries and whipped cream.
What I didn’t know, being more used to the mass produced market versions that I suspect are made from a packet mix, was that these pancakes are not merely characterised by their sized. A poffertje really isn’t just a small round American-style pancake. They come from a time before chemical leavening agents, you see, so traditionally they are yeast leavened. They also come from a time when expensive, refined wheat was in short supply, thus the inclusion of buckwheat flour.
So what was once a cute but kinda dull street food offering all of a sudden seems a lot more interesting. And once I mucked around with some different batter ratios, different combinations of flour, different rise-times, I landed on a Poffertje that really warrants a trip to Amsterdam for. Only you don’t even have to go! Because the recipe is right here! The batter mixes up easily, and then just sits for a few hours at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge. Once it’s bubbly and risen, the dough gets portioned out into the indents in your pan (sorry, special equipment required), and bubbles away in a little butter, before being flipped over on themselves.
Yeasty, donut-scented, ochre-speckled puffs of pancake happiness are what will emerge from the pan once you get the hang of flipping and cooking your poffertjes. Serve them showered in sugar, and with a drizzle of melted butter, the way the Dutch do, or with strawberries and cream, or a spritz of lemon, or all of the above. I can’t stress enough the fact that there is no bad way to eat these. Just make sure you do.
- 1 cup (150g) plain flour
- 1 cup (150g) buckwheat flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp dried yeast
- 1 + ½ cups (375ml) milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
- 2oz (50g) butter, melted
- Extra butter, powdered sugar, whipped cream, lemon, strawberries or whatever else you want, to serve.
- Place the flours, sugar, salt and yeast into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre.
- In a separate pitcher, whisk together the milk, eggs and vanilla, and then gradually whisk those into the dry ingredients, aiming for no lumps, but not worrying if there are some.
- Cover the bowl with plastic and place in a warm spot for about an hour (or overnight in the fridge) after which the mixture should have increased a little in volume, and look kind of frothy and bubbly but not overly so.
- Heat a poffertje pan over a medium heat, and brush with some of the melted butter.
- Pour the remaining butter into the batter and stir through, but don't scrape out the melted butter too much - leave some for re-buttering the pan as you go.
- Place about 1 tbsp of mixture into each indent in the preheated pan and wait until the edges look set, and bubbles start to appear on the surface (as for regular pancakes), then take a fork or a chopstick, and hook it into one edge of the poffertje, before quickly flipping it over 180 into the pan. This takes a little practice, but you have plenty of batter, so just keep trying until you find a method that works for you.
- Continue until all the batter is used up, re-buttering the pan occasionally.
- Serve the pancakes with whatever toppings you like!