Dutch food: poffert

Poffert is a traditional regional dish from the province of Groningen (where I come from), although a similar dish can be found in other parts of the Netherlands. It is a cross between a steamed pudding, bread and bundt cake/gugelhopf and is very filling, especially because it was served with a generous pat of butter and lots of brown sugar or stroop. That was why it usually was eaten as a main, and in winter. It was often cooked when the whole family needed to work on the land, and there was no time to cook. The batter was made, placed it in the pan and a few hours later there was food, while she could do other things. By richer people it sometimes was eaten as dessert or snack, and nowadays it is more of a special treat. But you know that a dish is popular when there is a a small village (about 15 houses, 3 farms and a small shipyard) named after it: de Poffert is located between Hoogkerk and Enumatil. The village was named after the tavern called de Poffert, that was there because de Poffert used to be an important quay for tug-boats, especially during the sugar beat campaign in fall (there was, and is, a sugar refinery in Hoogkerk). The captains used to eat loads of things made with flour, hence the name of the tavern.

Real poffert is cooked au bain marie in a special ‘pofferttrommel'(literally poffert bin), a bundt shaped pan with a lid. Some people line the tin with slices of bacon before filling it with batter, to prevent sticking. Nowadays people often cook the poffert in an oven instead of au bain marie (in my opinion you make something else than poffert in that case), and use other kinds of dried fruit as well, or even make a savoury variant with bacon and smoked sausage. It is not necessary to have the special ‘pofferttrommel’ to make poffert, you can also use a heat-proof bowl or a bundt pan that you cover with aluminium foil or baking paper secured with a bit of kitchen rope. There are even people that use a small pan that fits inside the larger pan.

Poffert is normally eaten with (molten) butter and brown sugar or stroop, but you could also use apple butter instead of the stroop. Some people serve theirs with cinnamon and brown sugar, but I think poffert does need the moisture from butter or something else. Not traditional, but delicious options are a splash of cream, vanilla sauce or toffee sauce.

Poffert

Poffert (for a bowl or tin that can hold 2 liter, serves 4 generously)

250 g flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
scoop of sugar
100 g raisins
200 ml lukewarm milk
1 egg
accompaniments of choice

Mix all the ingredients to form a nice batter. Pour it into your pofferttrommel or the tin/bowl you are going to use. Place into the large pan with warm water. Place the lid on top and leave to rise for an hour. Then turn on the heat and cook the poffert in about an our. Control with a sateh stick if the poffert is ready, the stick should come out clean. Serve warm with your accompaniments of choice.

Note: you can also make poffert with self-raising flour (quite a luxurious variant) instead of yeast, and sometimes half wheat and half buckwheat flour was used.

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