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Summer’s drawing to a close and it’s time to look forward to some of the typical Dutch foods that seem to go hand in hand with the colder seasons. And nothing is more appetising (or indeed, more Dutch) on a crisp, autumnal day, than a warm and filling plate of freshly prepared poffertjes with lashings of dairy butter and a generous dusting of icing sugar!
Poffertjes are small (mini) Dutch pancakes, traditionally prepared using yeast and buckwheat flour, for a particularly light and fluffy result. There are a number of theories about how the poffertje became such a treasured Dutch institution – many believe that this delectable Dutch treat has its roots in a Dutch Abbey, where the mini pancakes where used as a type of host for weekly communion. An acute shortage of wheat flour during the French revolution meant that buckwheat flour was used to make the pancake batter, which afforded a decidedly plump and even more delicious end product. Once regular church goers got to sample these tasty, mini pancakes they became hooked and local market stall holders seized on the opportunity to sell them as a sought-after snack. The mini pancakes, which were prepared using a special cast iron poffertjes pan, quickly became known as ‘poffertjes’ because they puffed up considerably during the cooking process.
Today Dutch poffertjes are typically served as a satisfying lunchtime meal, at weddings or as a special treat at children’s birthday parties. You can also purchase these tempting mini pancakes by the dozen, from the busy poffertje stalls that proliferate Dutch towns throughout the autumn and winter. Just follow the highly distinctive and utterly mouth-watering aroma and take your place in the queue, to experience your first taste of the ultimate comfort food, Dutch style!
Poffertjes are also extremely easy to prepare at home, so you can still enjoy freshly made poffertjes even if you don’t plan to visit Holland this year. In fact, you can purchase a handy, ready made poffertjes mix from Dutch online supermarket Holland at Home, along with an authentic Dutch poffertjes pan which is essential in their preparation. Although by far the most popular way to enjoy poffertjes in the Netherlands is with a simple knob of butter and icing sugar, you can also experiment by serving them with a range of pouring syrups including Dutch ‘stroop’ or maple syrup and a variety of sweet and savoury fillings.