Appelbollen

Those of you that read my other blogs know that, these last several years, I've been picking fruit in local orchards around the valley for most of my cooking and canning. For one, the price you pay for fruits when you pick them is at least fifty to 70% cheaper than in the store. The fruit is also fresh off the tree so it still has all its vitamins and minerals and, on top of that, you support your local farmers. A win-win for all, and it's a fun day out for the family. 
 
Early summer is cherry time, mid summer is peach and plum time, and now that the weather is cooling down a bit, the last of the apples and pears are coming off the tree. Oh joy!! Apples play an important role in the Dutch kitchen: apple sauce is a standard condiment for many potato-based dishes (ever tried French fries with mayo and apple sauce? Don't knock it before you try it, it's the way Dutch children eat their fries) and a key ingredient in potato salad, Hete Bliksem (mashed apples and potatoes) and of course in desserts: Dutch apple pie, apple beignets and the old-fashioned Dutch apple dumpling, the appelbol. Sweet, firm apples in a puff pastry cover and filled with soaked raisins and walnuts.....What a delight! You want a firm apple for this dessert: I used a Golden Delicious, but a Jonagold, Gala or a Braeburn will do just as well. And if you don't have apples? Use a pear!

Probably not a coincidence that these dishes do best in a wintery, cold setting. The appelbol is more often than not a sugary treat with morning coffee, a sweet ending to a long, windy walk along the beach or together with a cup of hot chocolate after ice skating on the canals. Appelbollen are usually served warm and without any additional adornments such as whipped cream, but the last several years people have been adding warm custard or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It's all good!

Appelbollen
4 medium sized apples
4 tablespoons golden raisins and currants, mixed
1 tablespoon walnut pieces, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoon sugar, divided 
4 tablespoons apple juice or rum
4 puff pastry squares (approx. 5 x 5 in.)
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 400F. Wash the apples, and peel and core them. Mix the raisins, walnuts, cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of sugar, and add the apple juice or rum. Set aside and soak for a couple of minutes, then fill each apple with the mixture. If you have boerenjongens, this is a good time to use them! 


Set each apple, top side down, on a square piece of puff pastry and wrap the apple, by pulling up each corner and tucking it slightly into the cored hole. Make sure all sides are covered and clinging to the apple. 

If you have some extra dough left and a couple of cinnamon sticks, you can make stems and leaves and wrap the apple with an additional decorative something or other, but it's not necessary. If you do use cinnamon sticks, make sure to wrap the top with a little aluminum foil, as they tend to burn easily.

Make an egg wash with the yolks and the water, and brush on the dough. Sprinkle all four apples with the remaining sugar. Place each apple in a ramekin or small aluminum pie dish, smooth side up. Bake golden brown in 20-25 minutes.




Oranjekoek

Originally a Frisian wedding delicacy, this treat studded with candied orange peel and spices is a delight to the tastebuds. Nobody quite knows where and how it originated, and why it's called Oranjekoek if the frosting is pink, but who knows.. (oranje means "orange" as in the color, not the fruit.)

The House of Orange-Nassau, the aristocratic dynasty from which our royal family stems, lent the colorful addition to our country's current three colored flag: red, white and blue, with a separate vane in bright orange to show loyalty to the royal family. During international sporting events, you can recognize the Dutch supporters by their orange outfits, wigs and other sports-related items.

But back to the Oranjekoek. The original version is a single layer cookie/cake, frosted with a pink glaze. The dough contains orange peel and whole or ground aniseed (you can also use gestampte muisjes) and nutmeg and is, combined with the sweetness of the glaze, a great addition to your morning coffee or afternoon tea. More recent versions of the cake contain two layers, separated by a filling of almond paste and a swirl of whipped cream on top. I usually bake the single layer pink cake, but in order to celebrate the occasion of Koningsdag on April 27th, I baked the almond paste filled koek, used an orange glaze and added a dollop of whipped cream and some fresh fruit and candied orange peel, for looks.

The koek is originally served in squares and because of its cookie texture is easily picked up by hand and eaten as a cookie, rather than a cake. It will keep great in lunch boxes or cookie jars (without the whipped cream). Because of the cake's slightly dry nature*, it goes well with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee or tea.

Oranjekoek
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp aniseed (ground or whole)
1/4 cup of candied orange peel and/or zest from one medium orange
5 Tbsp butter, cold and cubed
1 medium egg
Ice cold water

For the filling: (best made the day before)
1 cup almonds
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
Almond extract or essence (optional)

For the glaze:
1 cup (125 gram) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water
Red food coloring for pink, and red and yellow for orange.

For the topping:
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 heaping soup spoon powdered sugar
Fresh berries
Candied orange peel (optional)

Mix the flour and sugar together, then add the butter in small chunks. Keep mixing while you add the nutmeg, aniseed and orange zest, then add the egg. Add a tablespoon at a time of ice cold water to knead into a slightly sticky dough. Fold in the chopped orange peel (optional). Wrap the dough and let it rest in the fridge for about an hour. In the meantime, grind the almonds and the sugar together and fold in a beaten egg. For extra almond taste, add a drop or two of almond extract.

Heat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8 x 8 square baking pan or baking sheet, or line with parchment paper, and divide the dough in two. Pat one part of the dough into the baking pan (allow for about an inch height). Spread the almond paste over the top and pat the second half of the dough on top.

Bake for approximately 25 to 30 minutes or until the cake is done: it will be quite lightly colored. Let it rest in the pan for about five minutes, then turn out and cool upside down on a rack.

When the cake is completely cooled, cover the flat top side with a glaze made of powdered sugar, the food coloring and a little water or milk. If you would rather use natural coloring, try blueberry juice for pink, or carrot juice for orange. Let the glaze dry for at least an hour. Cut into 9 squares, pipe some whipped cream on top and decorate with candied orange peel and fresh berries. You can wear an orange hat if you want to :-)

* sometimes I sprinkle orange liquor over the bottom of the cake (not the one that is going to be glazed) to make it a little moister.





Stroopwafels

Some things you just don't try at home. It's either too much work, or your palate and mind are so accustomed to a certain (industrialized) flavor that, even if you are willing to go through the trouble of baking yourself, you are never entirely satisfied with the result..... It tastes alright, but it just doesn't have that.... hmmm ....factory-mass-produced-riddled-with-preservatives-kind-of-flavor, you know?

So too, I thought, with the ultra-traditional Dutch stroopwafel. Homemade ones are hard to come by because it's so much easier to grab a packet of ten at the store when you're grocery shopping. But for those of us that grew up in Holland, the sweet perfume of stroopwafels baked fresh at the local market is engrained in our smell-cells. Once a whiff of it hits our nose we follow its lure, much like the Hamelin rats, that leads us to the small waffle cart where a line of salivating children and adults patiently waits their turn. After seeing a waffle cone machine for sale on our local Craigslist I had stroopwafels on my mind........so I purchased the waffle maker, went to work and am pleased to say that the flavor surpasses the factory-made ones! Here is the result!



If you have Dutch friends but have never heard of, or tried stroopwafels, your friends have been holding out on you. Expats jealously guard their stash of stroopwafels, right next to the loot of fruit hail, chocolate flakes and stomped mice. Dutch food is not easy to get a hold off and visitors from abroad will often haul tons of packages of the caramel filled cookies, guaranteeing a warm welcome and a tolerance towards an extended stay.

A stroopwafel is a combination of two cookies and a caramel center. It is said to have originated in the city of Gouda. Since Gouda is also famous for its wonderful cheese, I'll go with that. The Goudese obviously have great taste! The cookies are best when eaten lukewarm, warmed up while resting on the rim of a cup of coffee or tea. Easy to make, stroopwafels will delight everybody in your family, Dutch or not!

Stroopwafels
For the dough
4 1/2 cups AP flour
2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
1 scant teaspoon of ground cinnamon
3/4 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup of warm water
2 large eggs
pinch of salt

In a kitchen mixer, mix the flour, yeast, cinnamon and sugar and cut in the butter until it resembles small pellets. Slowly pour in the warm water and allow the dough to start coming together, then add the eggs one at a time. Finally add the pinch of salt and knead the dough for a minute or two until it's nice and solid.

Cover and rest for 30 minutes.

For the caramel
1 cup of brown sugar
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons of pancake syrup
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

Melt the sugar and the butter, stirring slowly over a low heat. Add the cinnamon and the pancake syrup and continue to stir until the caramel comes together and slowly bubbles. Keep stirring because at this stage it's easy to burn! Make sure all the sugar has dissolved and your caramel is nice and creamy (Do not try to lick it from the spoon because you'll burn your tongue!) then add the vanilla extract and blend it in. Keep the caramel warm.

Divide the dough into 20 equal pieces. It's easiest to weigh the total dough and divide by 20, the pieces should come out at approximately 50 grams each. Roll them into small marbles and cover with a damp cloth, you don't want them to dry out while you're baking!

Heat your waffle cone machine or your pizzelle iron according to instructions. Place one dough ball in the middle, press down the top lid and bake each waffle for approximately 40 seconds. Check to see if it's browned nicely and a little puffed up, remove it from the machine and place it on a flat surface.

Now you have to work fast. As long as the waffle cookie is hot, it's pliable. The moment it cools, it will break on you so make sure you have all the items you need within reach.

Place your hand on top of the cookie and slice it horizontally in two. (If it's too hot, use a pot holder). Since the yeast made the cookie puff up a little bit, this should be easy to do with a sharp, non-serrated knife. Place a generous size dollop of gooey caramel on top of the bottom cookie, replace the top part and gently push down on it so that the caramel spreads. Pick up carefully and put on a rack to cool off, and put the next dough ball in the waffle maker. You'll soon get the hang of it!

Many will cut the edges off the cookie so that it is a uniform and nice round shape. I'm not that particular for home use so I just left them as it was, but did cut some into flowers to have with my afternoon coffee.


Krentenbollen for Queen's Day!

Hip hip hurray, it's Queen's Day! In Holland, every April 30th we celebrate old queen Juliana's birthday, with lots of flea markets, orange pastries and, for those so inclined, lots of beer. I haven't celebrated this yearly holiday for over 10 years and only remember it because it's also my brother Lucas's birthday.

But I did want to do something festive and Dutch and even if it wasn't an orange pastry, I did want it to have at least an orange tint to it. Lien from Notitie van Lien baked wonderful krentenbollen, or raisin buns, for BBD#28 last month and I was dying to try them.

I remember eating krentenbollen as a child. I was not particularly fond of them at the time, but would eat them anyway: my love for all things bread would always win. The raisins made the bread feel moist and gooey and every now and then you'd hit a bitter, burnt raisin. My mom would pack one with butter for school or we'd get them on Sundays as a special treat for breakfast.

After I moved away from Holland, it was never a food that I craved but it's so typically Dutch that I feel the need to bake them for this Queen's Day. And now that I bake them myself, I am happy to say that I have come to love these sweet, savory rolls. They are delicious with just a smear of butter, or with a nice sharp cheese.

So put on your tiaras, wear something orange and let's bake!

Krentenbollen
3.5 cups flour (or 500 gram)
1 tsp salt
3 tsp dry instant yeast
1 cup milk, luke warm
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons soft butter
1/2 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 cups of dark raisins
1 cup of currants*
1/4 cup of chopped dried apple

1 medium egg, whisked (to glaze)

Mix the flour with the salt, and sprinkle the yeast on the warm milk. While you wait for the yeast to proof, zest the orange and the lemone. Now add the milk to the flour and stir it to get a straggly dough. Keep stirring and add in the egg, the sugar, butter and zests until it has come together. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes.

Punch down the dough, and knead the mixture to a supple dough (in machine or by hand). If you knead by hand you can knead in the filling immediately. If you knead with the machine, first make a supple dough, then work in the filling by hand, so the raisins/currants won't break up.

Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and let stand in a warm spot for 45 minutes.

Divide the dough in 12-18 equal pieces, shape into rolls and flatten them a bit. Place on a baking sheet covered with baking parchment, cover with greased plastic and let rise again for 1 - 1,5 hours.

In the meantime preheat the oven to 400°F.

Brush the rolls with the beaten egg and bake them for about 15 minutes (depending on the amount/size you made them) until light golden and done. Let them cool on a wire rack. .

(adapted from "Kleine broodjes van ver & dichtbij"- I. Berentschot)



* if you can't find currants, just alternate golden raisins with red raisins. I soaked my raisins in warm water before adding them to the dough. You may want to adjust your water/flour ratio if you do or don't.

Paashaasjes

Easter is coming! And with that, we get ready to plan the biggest meal of the weekend: Easter breakfast/brunch with the family! Pretty bread rolls and pastries, cold cuts, sweet bread toppings, egg dishes, juices, and loads and loads of coffee and tea, of course. After which the kids go for the egg hunt, and the adults remain at the table, picking at things, talking about (what else) the weather, and having another cup of coffee. Gezellig!

And we don't celebrate Easter once, we celebrate it twice! That's right - when the rest of the world is going back to work on Monday, the Dutch take another day off and celebrate what is known as Tweede Paasdag, Second Easter Day! Many government offices and most stores will continue to be closed that day, but it's a great day for taking a stroll along the beach or in the forest, visiting one of the theme parks that the country is rich, and for finishing up the leftovers of the previous day's lavish breakfast or brunch.

One highlight of the Easter brunch is the variety of breads: croissants, crunchy rolls, sliced loaves that tend to be a bit more luxurious than what usually comes to the table. You'll find a similar bread to the Kerststol, an almond paste filled fruit bread called Paasstol, or a Paasbrood in the stores, and the bakers will have a great selection of Easter-inspired pastries, cookies, bonbons, cakes and more.

Here at the Dutch Table, we've been making our own Paashaasjes, Easter bunnies, for every Easter brunch. These bread bunnies are a great way of combining bread and eggs into one, and they're a great favorite with the kids as well as adults. The dough is savory, not sweet, so combines well with the hard-boiled egg. They come in various shapes: these ones are our own design.

Paashaasjes
4 cups flour (500 gr.)
1 cup warm milk or water (236 ml)
1/2 cup buttermilk (118 ml)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
6 small eggs, rinsed and dry
18 dark raisins or currants
1 egg, beaten well

Mix the warm milk or water and buttermilk, sprinkle the yeast on top and let it proof for several minutes. The yeast should start to form bubbles and create foam on the liquid. Add the flour to a bowl or mixer, pour in the yeasty milk and knead for several minutes. Add the salt and continue to knead until the dough comes together into a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. (If you're a heavy scooper, you may need to add a little bit of liquid for it to come together). Knead the dough on the counter for a couple of minutes, then cover and rest it in a greased bowl, at room temperature, and let it rise until double.

Punch down the dough and divide it into six equal parts, rolling each into a ball. Relax the dough for five minutes, covered, then roll into ovals of approximately 6 to 7 inches long with the help of a rolling pin. With a sharp knife or with scissors, make a cut of about two inches length-wise in the top of the dough: those will be the ears. Make a similar cut one inch on each side of the ear at an angle, and then cut back at an angle (see picture above, that's easier than trying to explain it!).

Put three raisins (two for the eyes, one for the nose) where the face is going to be. Stretch both of those arms a bit, put a raw egg in the shell (the egg will be hard-boiled when it comes out of the oven) on its tummy and fold the arms over. Place the bunnies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Cover and let rise in a warm place until puffy. Push the raisins in just a bit so that they'll cook in the dough and not on top, as they may come off. Right before going in the oven, brush the bunnies with the egg wash, and press a toothpick in sideways to mark the whiskers, the ears and the paws.

Bake at 375F (190C) for about 20 minutes or until golden.

This will make six bunnies.