Poffertjes are a Dutch batter treat, similar to small pancakes. These little morsels are slightly round and puffy and are made with buckwheat flour and yeast. A special pan is used to make poffertjes, and special forks are used to turn them in the pan. Poffertjes are popular at summer festivals and other outdoor events, where they typically are served on little paper or cardboard containers with various toppings. Traditionally, the dish is served with melted butter and powdered sugar and is eaten as a snack, not as a breakfast food.
There are two stories about the origin of poffertjes. The most popular is that they originated in a Dutch abbey. Merchants acquired the recipe and had special pans made to mass produce the pastries for sale at markets. Others believe that the little pancakes originated in a French monastery and were brought to the Netherlands during the French Revolution. Both stories agree that the poffertjes were originally made with wheat flour, but when this became scarce during the French Revolution, buckwheat flour was substituted.
Yeast and buckwheat flour are the primary ingredients in poffertjes, but they also contain milk, sugar, vanilla, eggs, salt and whole wheat flour. The batter is prepared and allowed to rise. After it has risen, it traditionally is poured into a bottle that allows for easy pouring of the batter into the pan. The pancakes are so small that they cook fairly quickly and must be monitored to ensure that they do not burn.
Traditionally, poffertjes are served with butter and sugar, but different vendors might top the pancakes with strawberries, whipped cream, rum or many other toppings. In addition to a variety of toppings, various ingredients are added to the batter to create a different taste and texture in the cake itself. The relatively mild flavor allows for the addition of many flavors.
The pan used to cook these Dutch treats might be made of cast iron, aluminum or copper. Little indentations surround the surface of the pan, which allow the pancakes to puff up and develop their round shape. Special pans are used at festivals and markets so that many pancakes can be cooked at one time. A wooden fork with two prongs is used to turn the pancakes. After they are finished and ready to come out of the pan, they are placed on a plate with butter and sugar and are served warm.