Sunday, February 19, 2012

Poffert

Awwww.......it looks like the Elfstedentocht will have to skip another year. Again. The last time the Eleven Cities Tour race was skated (is that a verb?) was in 1997, and was won by Henk Angenent, a fine Brussel Sprouts grower from the province of South Holland. He finished the 200 kilometer race in 6 hours and 49 minutes and many a Dutch man, or woman, has been eager to beat his record since. But it looks like the weather is not cooperating this year either, so another year goes by without the excitement of Holland's largest speed skating event. Thankfully, there are still plenty of dishes from our northern regions to explore, so here we go!

The province of Friesland is proud of its province and its beautiful waterways, and it shows. As a matter of fact, the whole country is taking a larger interest in its own beauty, and several fantastic magazines dedicated to either outdoor living, backyard farming or covering certain regional areas have appeared on the store shelves.

During my visit this last January I came across one of those magazines, a beautiful publication called Noorderland. It covers the most northern region of the country, the provinces of Friesland, Drenthe and Groningen to be exact. Their winter photography of traditional Dutch landscapes was breathtaking, but what really got my attention was a gorgeous picture of a poffert. (Yeah I know, big surprise huh....what can I say!? I love Dutch food!!). The magazine itself was no longer on the shelf, but the editorial team was so kind as to send me a backcopy for which I am very grateful. Thank you, Noorderland!

The poffert, or boffert, is originally a northern dish. Not clear on whether it's originally from Friesland or Groningen, the poffert can also go by trommelkoek (tin cake) or ketelkoek (kettle cake), and is usually eaten as a meal, not as dessert or a coffee cake. It's heavy, thick and a real stick-to-your-ribs kind of baked good, but at the same time a fantastic and sweet discovery.

The Frisian cookbook "De Welkokende Vriesche Keukenmeid" from 1772 mentions the poffert and declares that the poffert is "zeer geschikt om op reis mede te nemen" (very suitable for traveling). And we're not surprised: besides being sturdy, it also holds well and becomes even better tasting after a day or two. Not to mention, whomever you will be visiting will be pleased to receive a slice or two!

While researching this recipe, I came across many different variations, as one can expect for a recipe that's been around for several centuries. The earlier mentioned cookbook adds six eggs to a pound of white flour, half a pound of melted butter, a spoonful of rosewater, a spoonful of yeast and some water. A later recipe adds raisins and apples. Other cookbooks suggest lining the cake pan with strips of bacon, then pouring in the batter so it becomes a more savory dish.

What most recipes agree on, though, is that the cake was meant to substitute a meal. No sugar is added to the initial batter, but the slices of bread cake are served with syrup, and if desired, some butter.

Poffert
1/4 cup dark raisins
1/4 cup golden raisins
3 each dried apricots
3 each dried figs
1 tablespoon preserved ginger
2 cups self-rising flour
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
1 cup of milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ground almonds (optional)
2 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons panko or breadcrumbs

For serving: pancake syrup, cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar

Soak the raisins in half a cup of water. Chop the apricots, figs and ginger and add them to the raisins, set aside to soak.

Add the flour to a mixing bowl and add three egg yolks, the milk, the butter and the salt. Mix well. Whip the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff, and fold them in with the batter. Lastly, drain and squeeze the dried fruits, then fold them into the batter, together with the brandy.

Spray some baking spray into your poffert pan (if you don't have a poffert pan, you can use a bundt or angel food pan and cover the top with aluminum foil). Add the panko or breadcrumbs and toss them around in the pan until all sides, and the little pokey part in the middle, are covered. Do the same with the lid. Tap out the remainder of the breadcrumbs. Carefully pour the batter into the pan and close with the lid. Only fill the form to about 75% of its capacity, as the batter will tend to rise.

Insert the pan into another pan with hot boiling water, but keep the water level at about an inch, an inch and a half,  below the rim of the poffert pan. Put a trivet on the bottom of the pan so that the surface of the poffert pan does not immediately touch the bottom of the water pan. Put something heavy on top so that the poffert pan doesn't float or tilt. Add hot water as needed.

Keep at a rolling boil for an hour. Remove from the pan, carefully (watch out for steam!!) remove the lid and insert a food thermometer or skewer to see if the cake is done. If the skewer comes out clean, the cake is done. If not return it to the water pan and continue to boil for another twenty minutes.

When the cake is done, replace the lid and put the pan in a 375F oven, middle rack for another ten to fifteen minutes. This will brown the panko and the outside of the poffert.

Tip the pan on a cookie rack, cool until warm, then slice and serve with syrup, butter or cinnamon sugar. If you feel adventurous, tie on some skates and get to practising, the next Elfstedentocht might be just around the corner!!



7 comments:

  1. This brings back memories!! We ate Poffert a lot at home, no raisins/abricot or figs in the one my mom made and we did put a spoon under the plate to elevate it a bit and had melted butter on one side at the bottom of the plate and brown sugar next to it to dip the Poffert!! :-) My parents were from Groningen and I was born there as well. I have still a Poffert pan somewhere but never tried it myself! Might give it a try and let my daughter try some of her moms heritage LOL

    groetjes from Chicago!
    Karin

    ReplyDelete
  2. Fun to see this story. Werner Drenth makes beautiful cookbooks about all sorts of Northern food! Try to get a copy of his "stampotten" cookbook ( try to translate that!��). Keep on writing!
    Anmara, from Kropswolde, near Groningen, Holland

    ReplyDelete
  3. Karin, dipping the poffert in melted butter and brown sugar sounds wonderful, I will try that next time. You should dig up that poffert pan and give it a try, how fun!

    Anmara, thank you for the encouragement! I will look up Werner Drenth, one can never have too many books! The weather sure calls for stamppotten (stomped pots, mashed pots?), I'm thinking a spruitjesstamppot with lots of spekjes....

    ReplyDelete
  4. Does sound lovely... and if everyone wasn't on a diet in our household, I'd probably give it a try. :)

    You mention one recipe including yeast, which would make sense to me, since that's the way poffertjes are made... which, presumably, are meant to be small pofferts?

    The version you've chosen gets its lightness from beating/folding the egg whites in... which is probably lighter in effect than relying on yeast to add bubbles.

    Oh dear... the more I think about it, the more I want to make some... :p

    Andy

    ReplyDelete
  5. My Beppe always made poffert specially for us. We loved it as kids and now my kids cheer when I make it (not often enough!). I remember my Beppe (Grandma) had a very large pan. She did have a family of 10... There was always a lot of suspense when the poffert came out to see if it was cooked.
    My Beppe used to make a plain variety of poffers, just raisins and no frills. I do the same and this is just right according to the kids.

    Minke ( North East Australia)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Poffert is Gronings, there is even an small village called "The Poffert".
    It can be eaten as a dish or as dessert.

    ReplyDelete
  7. For much more typical Groningse recipes.
    http://www.groningerrecepten.nl/

    ReplyDelete

I welcome your comments! Please be so considerate as to include a name, as anonymous postings will be deleted.