With much of its land reclaimed from the North Sea, the Netherlands offers a vast network of lakes, rivers, and canals flanked by beautiful countryside. From these rich soils and waterways come the meats, seafood, and dairy products for which the country is famous. However, more than just a land of cheese and sausage, the Netherlands is also known for its sweet dishes and desserts: buttery cookies, cakes, waffles, and pannekoeken (pancakes) that are baked and fried in restaurants and kitchens across the quaint, historic countryside.
Recently, I asked Program Director Daniel Dammers, who leads travelers on our Holland & Belgium in Springtime River Cruise, which of these Dutch delicacies is his favorite—and he enthusiastically recommended poffertjes (pronounced “poffert-yuhz”), a sweet dish of miniature puffy pancakes. Traditionally made with buckwheat flour and a raising agent—yeast—that gives them a fluffier texture than pancakes, they’re often served at festivals and fairs. These spongy, silver dollar-sized cakes are cooked in a special poffertjes pan that’s made of cast iron, copper, or non-stick Teflon and has a dozen or more round indentations in its surface.
Poffertjes are traditionally served with butter and powdered sugar—called “icing sugar” in Holland—but can be served in countless other ways, too: with whipped cream, fresh fruit, jam, jelly, chocolate sauce, maple syrup, or ice cream. They can also be served as a savory treat, with cheese, herb butter, or bacon.
Here, Daniel shares his preferred recipe for poffertjes …
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
1-1/2 teaspoons yeast
1-1/4 cups milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons butter
- Heat the milk until lukewarm—about 30-40 seconds in the microwave.
- In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar into a small portion of the milk.
- In a separate bowl, mix together all-purpose flour, buckwheat flour, and salt; make a well in the middle.
- Pour the yeast mixture into the well. Begin stirring from the center and slowly add the remaining milk and then the beaten eggs.
- Lay a damp towel over the bowl and put it in a warm place—such as on top of the oven or on a radiator—and let it sit for an hour to allow the batter to rise.
- Grease the poffertjes pan with butter and spoon the batter into each indentation using circular movements. When one side is golden brown, flip the poffertjes over with a fork or wooden skewer (or a wooden fork, if you have one). Finish cooking until the other side is golden brown. Grease the pan again and repeat for the remaining batches.
- Serve hot, topped with melted butter, powdered sugar, and fresh berries, or add your choice of toppings for a delicious treat!
Enjoy these tasty treats—and other Dutch delicacies—on our Holland & Belgium in Springtime River Cruise.