'I remember poffertjes from my childhood. My aunts made these golden balls of dough and served them with a lightly rose-scented sugar syrup as a special treat.'
One of the most popular attractions at the Pumpkin Festival this year was the Poffertjes stand and I'm sure you won't be surprised to learn that yours truly made a beeline in that direction. Unfortunately, about 30 other festival goers had the same idea at the same moment, so after waiting patiently for ten toe-tapping minutes I decided there were more important things to see and do. 'I thought you were craving poffertjes,' my daughter asked, puzzled to see me back at her side at the pumpkin soup stall. 'I am, well I was,' I replied, 'but the queue isn't moving and I don't want to spend this glorious afternoon in line. Besides, I have a poffertje pan in my kitchen drawer and can easily make some once we get home.' And I did.
These little morsels were a big hit with customers who frequented the cookware store/cooking school that I co-owned once upon a time. One of the spins offs was that my colleagues and I sold the inexpensive aebleskiver pans and cast iron poffertje pans, which are used to make the perfectly round baby pancakes. You can also use a gem iron or electric doughnut-maker.
Charmaine Solomon, who was a regular guest at my cooking school, loves poffertjes and has generously shared her original recipe with Good Things. 'Mine are really very nice, Liz, so do try them,' she said. I assured Charmaine that I had (many, many times) and I know you will too.
CHARMAINE SOLOMON'S POFFERTJES
250g plain flour *
1/4 teaspoon salt
30g fresh compressed or 2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
200ml warm milk
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons golden syrup (slightly warmed)
75g butter, melted
icing sugar (optional)
2 teaspoons rosewater or 2 drops rose essence
To make the syrup, heat the sugar and water in a saucepan, stirring now and then, until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for 3 minutes, then allow to cool. Stir in the rosewater or essence.
To make the poffertjes, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Crumble the fresh yeast or sprinkle the dry yeast over the warm water and sugar in a small bowl. Leave to soften, then stir to dissolve and leave until the mixture froths, about 10 minutes. Stir the warm milk into the yeast mixture with the beaten egg, golden syrup and 1/4 cup of the melted butter. Make a well in the flour, then pour in the liquid mixture and beat until smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic film or a clean tea towel and stand it in a sink of hot water (or place atop a second bowl of boiling water), allowing it to rise for 15 minutes.
Charmaine says: 'if you do not have an electric doughnut-maker, which is simply plugged in and heated, heat a gem iron, a cast iron poffertje pan, or another heavy pan with deep indentations in a hot oven. Remove the hot pan from the oven, then brush it with the remaining melted butter and two-thirds fill each indentation with dough. Return the pan to the oven and cook until the dough is golden underneath but still fairly liquid on top.'
I prefer to cook poffertjes on the stove top in my poffertje pan. Brush the heated pan with melted butter or spray with light oil. Use a squeeze bottle to squeeze the batter into each little round, or a tablespoon will also do the trick. Allow the poffertjes to cook until golden on one side, then use two wooden skewers to turn each one, so that the soft dough flows into the pan and completes the spherical shape. When puffed and golden brown all over, remove the poffertjes and make another batch. Serve warm, accompanied by a jug of syrup to pour over, or dusted with icing sugar. Makes 40
Recipe reproduced from Charmaine Solomon's Family Recipes (Viking, 1998) with the kind courtesy and permission of Charmaine Solomon.
*Poffertjes can also be made with buckwheat flour, or a combination of buckwheat and another substitute. Due to this extended period of illness, I have eliminated all grains from my diet, so this gives me the perfect opportunity to test the recipe with suitable gluten/grain free flour mixes. Once I have done so, I'll share it here.
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I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.