We've Moved! Join us for future posts, news updates and food tidbits at The Dutch Table. See you there!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Dutch Table: Puddingbroodjes

The Dutch Table: Puddingbroodjes: "I've had several people asking me when I was going to make puddingbroodjes, a sweet roll filled with a vanilla cream pudding and d..."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

We've moved!

The interest in Dutch cooking and baking is growing steadily! I started the Dutch Baking page as a way to keep track of my progress in mapping the cuisine of the Netherlands. It didn't last long until the Dutch Cooking page came along, and both have been existing happily on their own blog pages.

But there is still so much to talk about that, in order to keep everything under one roof, or perhaps better said, on one table, I've decided to gather all posts and comments on one single page: The Dutch Table. This is where future posts will be published.

So bookmark the new website, come visit and I look forward to seeing you there! Gezellig!

Nicole Holten

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Witte bolletjes

A sign at Hartog's bakery in Amsterdam
says: "World's most beautiful weapon
on clay and sand is and always will be
the plough on farmland"
Holland's love for all things bread started early, around 4500BC, when a tribe of growers settled in the valley of southern Limburg and started growing grain. Slowly the grain selection expanded as wheat came in from France and rye from the German neighbors, causing a variety of breads, porridges and puddings to make their way onto the Dutch table.


The best soil for growing grains was (and still is) in the province of Zeeland, already famous for its quality flour in the twelfth and thirteenth century. Other provinces such as Friesland, Groningen and even Northern Holland tended to have a wetter soil and proved more beneficial for pasture land than cropland. Those provinces were often dependent on the import of grains from neighboring countries.

Besides wheat and rye, the Dutch also grew combinations of grain. Masteluin, a mixture of rye and wheat, provided the basis for a bread of the same name. Rye mixed with oats was called mancksaet and rye with barley spilkoren. All these grain mixes provided heavy, chewy, dark bread, that fed the masses of hard workers. White bread was limited to the wealthy and was nick-named "professor's bread" in the city of Leiden, birthplace of the first university in Holland in 1575, indicating that only the educated and were able to afford it.

Bread is a common theme in Dutch etymology. "Wittebroodsweken", or "white bread weeks", refers to the honeymoon period, those first six weeks after the wedding when a couple is still enjoying the festive and unique character of the celebration.

White rolls are used for hotdogs, broodje frikandel, for lunch boxes and to grace the table on a sunny Sunday morning for breakfast. Elongated breads, called puntjes, are the hotdog bun by choice or serve as the foundation for a puddingbroodje. Round ones, bolletjes, hold savory slices of cheese and tomato, juicy sheets of roast beef with slices of red onion, or peanut butter and hagelslag...... Such a simple bread, and yet so versatile.

Witte bolletjes
4 cups of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 1/2 cups of water
2 scant teaspoons of active dry yeast
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 cup of powdered milk*

For the wash
1 small egg
4 tablespoons of milk

Mix the powdered milk with the water, warm to about 120F, add the butter and set aside to melt. Put the flour in a mixing bowl and mix in the sugar, salt and active dry yeast. Add the warm milk/butter mix and knead the dough for a good ten minutes until it comes together. Place in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise until almost doubled in size.

Brush the risen rolls before
they go into the oven
Punch down and divide into 3oz rolls. Grease a baking pan or casserole dish and place the rolls in the pan, leaving about an inch of distance in between in the pan. If you want high rolls, keep the inch, if you want flatter rolls, increase the distance. Cover and let rise until doubled in size.

Brush the rolls with an egg/milk wash, bake at 400F for about ten minutes or until done. Remove pan from oven, set aside and place the rolls on a rack to cool. When cooled, wrap to avoid drying out.

*If you don't have powdered milk, substitute the water for milk instead.

Now slice open a roll, smear with butter (never with mayo!) and add some good cheese or sandwich meat and enjoy this little luxury!


Disclaimer: if you're a heavy "scooper" your flour weight might be higher than mine, or lower if you scoop light. Adjust your liquids accordingly.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Zakdoekjes

It's not that I don't have enough recipes to write about Dutch baked goods (I have at least another two years worth's of weekly posts!), it's that sometimes I can't pick. So many recipes are wonderful and exciting, but the limitation of time, product availability and sometimes a last minute change of plans dictates what gets published.

This weekend I had planned on making a slagroomtaart, a light cake with whipped cream and fruit. It's a delightful cake, traditionally served at birthday parties or other festive occassions. But I received a booklet in the mail this week, Drentse Pot, about typical foods from the province of Drente, and while browsing through it, I came across a recipe for zakdoeken. Zakdoeken (handkerchiefs) or buusdoukies in the Drents dialect are, in this case, not of the cloth kind, mind you, but a lovely, crunchy yet light waffle. The slagroomtaart went out the window ofcourse, because how can you resist a cookie with such an interesting name? I have never spent much time in Drente, so I was eager to try it out. And I am sure glad I did!

This cookie is sweet, crunchy, crisp and light, and shows beautifully. You will need a waffle cone maker style of waffle iron, like you use for stroopwafels. Watch out when folding the warm waffle, it will be hot!

Zakdoekjes
1 stick of butter
1 1/2 cup of sugar
2/3 cup of water
2 cups of flour
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of vanilla essence

Melt the butter and set aside. Warm the water and add the sugar, stir until the sugar is dissolved. Cool the water and add the egg, beat it well, then stir in the flour and the salt. Mix everything to a nice, smooth batter (no lumpies!). Now pour and stir in the melted butter until it is fully incorporated into the batter. Finally add the vanilla and stir.

Turn on the waffle iron, and bake one waffle at a time with approximately 1/4 cup of batter. This depends on how liquid your   batter is, how large the baking surface is etc. so just measure out an amount and see what the result is. If there is too much batter and it runs off the sides, take less. If your zakdoekjes are more like miniature cookies, pour a little bit more.

Pour the measured amount of batter on the hot waffle iron, close and bake. When the waffle is done, open the lid and quickly fold the cookie in half, and then again in half, as if you were folding a handkerchief. Place it on a cooling rack, where it will crisp up into a nice, sweet, crunchy cookie.

Makes approximately twenty cookies.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Roze koeken

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend some time with friends from Holland. It doesn't happen very often since most of us live in other states or countries, and it's not too frequent that we all are in the same place, at the same time. After the typical kissie-kissie greeting (three kisses on the cheek, left-right-left), we sat down, poured coffee, brought out the cookies and shared the latest news. And it's never too long before we start talking about food. "Hey, I found this great Gouda cheese online, I'll send you the link", "We have someone selling stroopwafels at the farmer's market. It's not exactly the same but it's good enough". "I'm really going to miss the Dutch store in town when we move, they even sell hagelslag.". Anyway, you get the drift.

The Dutch tend to be adventurous travelers, and you'll find us pretty much scattered across the globe and far away from home. We love to be out and about, but sometimes we do miss our food! So we sat, sipped coffee, and reminisced about culinaria neerlandica. After I brought out a big platter with suikerwafels and gevulde koeken, we started talking about cakes and cookies. I mentioned the ones that I had baked and listed, out loud, the many that I had yet to try. Everybody joined in calling out the ones they liked, we all went "ooh" and "aah", because they're all so good. But when I mentioned "roze koeken", pink cakes, I noticed that the exclamations were a little longer and the eyes sparkled a little more.

I'm, quite honestly, not sure why. Of all the cakes and cookies we have, the roze koek is possibly the least enticing one, skill-wise or ingredient-wise. No elaborate kneading, twisting and rolling needed as with the bolussen. No intricate web of nutmeg, white pepper, cinnamon, cloves and ginger to make a flavorful speculaas. The roze koek has content-wise very little to offer in complexity: butter, eggs, flour and sugar. I mean, don't get me wrong, you can't hardly mess up butter and sugar, but it's nothing unique or special. They do have something going for them, though, something very un-Dutch: a bright pink, almost neon, frosting! Hot Barbie pink, neon Peptobismol tones....just check the pictures and you know what I mean. 

My own theory is that, from all the Dutch cookies, this is the most extravagant one, and with our Calvinistic upbringing, the excitement of biting into a roze koek is like rebelling, it's almost akin to sin. There, that rhymes. The cake itself is buttery, sweet and tender: the pink icing mixed with berry juice adds a slight tang and creaminess to the whole. Definitely worth a try!

Roze koeken
2 sticks of butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
4 eggs
1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour

For the icing
6 heaping tablespoons of powdered sugar
2 tablespoons of red raspberry juice
Red food coloring optional
Milk, optional

Cream the butter with the sugar. Add one egg at a time and beat until it's been fully absorbed by the mixture before adding the next one. Finally, fold the lemon zest and the flour through the mix until you have a pourable thick batter or scoopable dough.

Spray or grease a muffin pan (I used large muffin pans, which made 8 cakes total) and fill each cup half-full. With a wet spoon flatten the top. Bake the muffins in a 390F oven until they are golden, about twenty minutes.

Take them out of the pan, cool on a wire rack. If the muffin domed during baking time, cut this off to have a flat surface.

Mix the powdered sugar with the berry juice and stir well. You may want to add a drop of red food coloring if you are looking for that hot pink. Stir it well, add some milk if it gets too thick, and then ice the cakes with the hot pink sugary coating. Let the icing dry, then serve with coffee or tea. Feel terribly sinful for a couple of bites and then have another cake!


Thank you Lien for the great recipe, and thank you Ferdinand for the beautiful mugs!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Gevulde Koeken

Gevulde koeken are the Dutch equivalent of the American chocolate chip cookie: if there's only one cookie to be sold, this will be the one. A favorite of many, it is often associated with ice skating, gezellige afternoons drinking tea with friends and, in my particular case, with traveling by train. Practically each train station in the Netherlands has a small kiosk where you can buy cookies, magazines, coffee, and hot snacks. If the station is really small, most often you can still get a cup of coffee and a cookie. And if wherever you are getting on the train is so small you can't even find that, there will be a chance to buy a refreshment on the train. And I bet you that even that refreshment cart has gevulde koeken......

The Dutch usually don't travel by train for just a hop, skip and a jump. Within the cities, you usually travel by tram, bus, metro or bike. To reach other places, for example if you want to go from Amsterdam to Maastricht, you would travel by train unless you had a car. This last activity usually goes paired with, sometimes undeserved, grumbling towards the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railroads). Not all trains run on time, all the time. Especially this winter, with the huge amounts of snow and the incredibly low temperatures, train travelers were often confronted with delayed trains, missing connections or no trains at all. But look at the gorgeous view when the sun comes out!

But back to the cookie. Gevulde koek, or filled cookie, is a crumbly, buttery, tender dough with an almond filling. The almond decorating the cookie is a dead giveaway. First you taste the cookie, then a sweet, slightly moist almond filling hits you and it's just heaven. Together with a hot cup of coffee (try Douwe Egberts sometime, a Dutch coffee brand and a national favorite), it is a combination that soothes travel irritations, whether you're going anywhere or not.

Gevulde koek
For the dough:
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of sugar
1 scant teaspoon of baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of cold water
1 3/4 stick of butter

For the filling:
1 cup of almond paste*
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 egg white
2 tablespoons of water
1 teaspoon of almond essence

For brushing:
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon of milk
8 sliced or whole almonds

Mix the dry ingredients and cut the butter into the dough, until it has the consistency of wet sand. Add a tablespoon of icecold water and knead the dough into a cohesive whole, making sure all the butter is well mixed in. Pat into an oval, cover with plastic film and refrigerate while you make the paste.

Now crumble up the almond paste and beat it with the rest of the ingredients foamy and thick. If you think it's too runny, add a tablespoon of flour, but not more.

Set your oven to 350F and turn it on. Take the dough out of the fridge, cut it in half and roll one half out, to about 1/8 of an inch and cut out eight rounds. I use the canning ring for a wide mouth jar, it's approximately eight inches across. Roll the other half out and cut another eight rounds (or more ofcourse!). Place one huge heaping teaspoon of almond paste mix in the middle of one cookie, place a second round on top and carefully seal the edges. You can do this with a fork or gently tapping it with your finger.

When all are done, place them on a parchment lined baking sheet or on a silicone mat. Beat the egg yolk with the milk and brush the top of the cookies, then place an almond on top. Bake for about thirty minutes or until golden.

Let them cool a little bit and enjoy this typical Dutch treat!



*If you don't have access to canned almond paste, you can easily make your own by processing two cups of slivered raw almonds, adding 1/4 cup of sugar and three tablespoons of water to make it into a thick paste.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Suikerwafel

It's not until you bite into one that you realize that not all waffles are equal. Some shine, some just eh...waffle, I guess. The batter-type waffles that we serve during St. Maarten's have their own charm; they're fluffy, tender and can be outfitted with the most exciting bursts of flavor: whipped cream, fruit, chocolate syrup...you name it.

But it's the suikerwafel, or sugar waffle, that sets itself apart. The dough is yeast-based, vanilla-infused and eggy and creates a beautiful chewy, heavy waffle that holds delicious pockets of crumbly sugar. It is a waffle that you can hold with both hands. It does not need any decoration or external frills to be best at what it is: a sugar waffle.

These waffles were originally known as Luikse Wafels, waffles from Liège (Belgium). Just like the stroopwafels vendors in Holland, you can find small food trucks throughout the various cities in Belgium that sell suikerwafels. They (the waffles) made their way to Holland and are now a standard fare in the cookie aisle, but are also sold at the oliebollenkramen during the wintertime.

Suikerwafels
4 cups of flour, divided
2 heaping teaspoons of active dry yeast
1 cup of milk, warm
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 sticks of butter, room temperature
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1/2 cup of pearl sugar*

Put the flour in a bowl, saving one cup for later. Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk, set it aside for a couple of minutes, while you add the salt to the flour. Pour in the yeasty milk, stir until the dough comes together, then add an egg at a time. Carefully stir in the soft butter, slowly adding a tablespoon or two from the cup of flour to help everything blend, you may not need the whole cup. When all has come together beautifully, put the dough in a greased bowl, cover and let it rise until it's doubled in size.

Punch down the dough, then knead in the pearl sugar so that it's well distributed across the dough. Cut and roll 2oz pieces of dough. Place a ball of dough on the griddle, push down the lid and bake until they're done. Depending on the waffle iron, this can take anywhere from two to 5 minutes. I happen to have a two rectangles kind of waffle maker. If you have a round one that breaks the waffle into four sections, measure your dough out to 6 oz so that it'll make four smaller waffles at once.

Place a dough ball in the middle of the iron, push down the lid and bake as usual. Be careful, as the melted sugar is extremely hot and can cause severe burns. Let the waffles cool on a rack before eating, and cool the waffle maker (the machine, not you!) before cleaning. The burnt sugar is best wiped off with a damp cloth.

Makes approximately fifteen waffles.


*If you can't find pearl sugar in the store, take the equivalent amount in sugar cubes, put them in a towel and give them a couple of good whacks with your rolling pin. Same thing!