Sunday, October 23, 2011


Holland is dairy country par excellence. Much of that lactic largesse is reflected in its vast assortment of cheeses ofcourse, a product so closely associated with The Netherlands that its inhabitants are often referred to as "cheese heads" or kaaskop. But the dairy domination does not stop at the cheesemonger. Besides yogurt, ice cream and chocolate milk, the dessert section at the grocery store holds a huge variety of puddings, pourable custards (vla), drink yogurts, cream cheese, mousse and bavaroise, all made with delectable Dutch milk.

The pourable vla is a typical Dutch product, with the consistency and mouthfeel of yogurt but without the tang, and served in over twenty flavors: vanilla, chocolate, caramel, strawberry, banana, raspberry, apple-cinnamon, name it. We'll do a separate chapter on vlas alone one of these days!

But one dairy product does not usually jump out at anybody for its mouthfeel, for its flavor or even for its innovative character: it's the slighly snubbed, often overlooked karnemelk, or buttermilk. The slightly sour taste, the viscosity of the milk and sometimes even the smell, will put many off.

Karnemelk is the milk that is left over after the cream has been removed for butter. It's slightly sour and a little thicker than milk and is most often used for baking with: the slight acidity is an excellent trigger for a leavener such as baking powder. In the older days, buttermilk was used as a beverage and for the poorest of people, as a substitute for meat gravy on their potatoes. In the more rural areas of Holland you will still find that some older farmers pour buttermilk over their potatoes before they prak, or mash, them.

From probably those same days stems an old-fashioned dessert called buttermilk pudding, or karnemelkpudding. Easy to make, the hardest part is going to exercise the patience to wait until its ready to eat: the pudding requires a minimum of four hours in the refrigerator, and even better overnight. It's a creamy, airy, slightly tangy with a sweet undertone pudding and goes very well with sweet fresh fruit such as strawberries or for a more wintery dish, try a jar of sweet dark cherries to pair this dessert with.

1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of water
2 envelopes of gelatin powder
2 1/2 cups of buttermilk
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
2 heaping tablespoons of powdered sugar

Add the sugar and the water to a small saucepan and stir, over medium heat, until the sugar has dissolved. Take it off the stove, sprinkle in one envelope of gelatin powder until the powder has dissolved and slowly pour in the buttermilk. Stir until everything is well mixed and set it to the side to cool.

In a separate bowl, whip the cream with the sugar and the second package of gelatin powder until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream in with the buttermilk until they are blended. Rinse a pudding form (either a large one, or several small ones) with cold water and pour the pudding mix into the mold. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate for a good four to five hours minimum, better overnight.

To remove the pudding from the mold, set the mold in a pan with hot water for ten seconds, then tip over on a plate. Decorate with fresh or canned fruit.


  1. Nog nooit gegeten, maar ga het zeker eens proberen.

  2. I was brought up on buttermilk and love it...still drink it and use it when I make "koek"


I welcome your comments! Please be so considerate as to include a name, as anonymous comments will be deleted. Comments will appear as soon as they are monitored (usually within 24 hours). If you have a direct question, please consider emailing me at nicole at thedutchtable dot com for a faster response, or post on our Facebook page.