Staphorster Fleeren

Dutch Anise Seed Waffle
I love how in the small country of the Netherlands (16,000 square miles, just a tad bigger than Maryland in the US), there are still so many regional differences in food and traditions, especially on festive days. We have just seen and enjoyed our New Year's Eve traditional foods, like oliebollen, appelbeignets, kniepertjes and so on, and now, on New Year's Day we welcome another set of traditional treats, many with a significant meaning. For example, the open crispy waffles called kniepertjes (from knijpen, to pinch, indicating the way the dough is pinched between the waffle irons) that is traditional in de Achterhoek area, on the east side of the country, is now served rolled up into a tight tube, and are called rollegies (from rollen, to roll). The kniepertjes symbolize an open book, and is therefore served on New Year's eve, when the whole past year has been lived out and does not hold any more surprises. Rollegies in turn represent a wrapped up, closed book, one that still has to reveal what is in store, and is therefore served on New Year's Day, January 1st. Isn't that a lovely thought? 

Today's waffles, Staphorster Fleeren, come from Staphorst, a small village in the province of Overijssel, east of Amsterdam and bordering Germany. Traditionally, they were served on New Year's Day, with a strong cup of coffee or tea. These are sturdy waffles, made with rye and wheat flour, an egg, some milk, and anise seeds. My first thought was that the rye made for a good stomach filling, and that the anise would soothe any possible, let's say, discomforts, from too much partying the night before. That is just my theory, of course, but it seemed like a good one. Its sparse and basic recipe also reflects a little bit the philosophy of the Staphorsters: they have a strong faith, falling somewhere between Calvinism and Lutheranism, and generally do without too much fancy stuff. Oddly enough though, I read in an older cookbook, the name "fleeren" means "slapping", and it's said that the waffles have to be soft enough to slap somebody in the face with. Well! 

I am not going to promote using these waffles to inflict harm on anybody, especially not on New Year's Day, but I can highly recommend them as a sturdy, stomach-soothing start of the day. The rye makes for a chewier waffle, the anise is comforting. Save the waffles in a cookie tin so that they remain soft. For an early breakfast, I also liked them with a lick of butter (but don't be telling anybody). 

Staphorster Fleeren

1 cup (125 grams) rye flour

1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour

1/4 cup (65 grams) brown sugar, packed

1 heaping teaspoon anise seeds

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 stick (50 grams) butter, melted

2 eggs

1/4 cup (100 grams) pancake syrup

1/2 cup (125 ml) milk

Mix the two flours, and add them to a bowl. Stir the sugar, the anise seeds, and the baking powder into the dry mix. In another bowl mix the melted butter, the eggs, the pancake syrup and the milk, then fold the wet into the dry mix. Stir well until all lumps have been removed. Rest the thick batter for about 15 minutes, then heat up the waffle iron. Scoop the dough onto the hot plates, bake the waffles until light brown, and serve warm. Save in a cookie tin to keep soft. Makes 8-10 waffles.

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