This week while many were flipping pancakes for Shrove Tuesday, we were busy making waffles. I guess we are different that way, but if I were to choose between both, waffles would win by a slight margin. It’s the contrast of the crispy exterior and the soft interior that makes the waffle rank high on my list.
Making waffles relaxes me, gives me a moment to linger a little longer on my thoughts. Whisking up a thick, gloppy batter with carefully measured basic ingredients of flour, milk and a few eggs, maybe I’ll add a flavoring or two. I cradle the bowl in the nook of my arm and dip the whisk into the batter, swirling it into the right consistency. It’s the satisfying sound of the sizzle as the concoction hits the hot waffle plates that makes me impatient. While I wait, the aromas wisp through the kitchen encasing me in a perfume of sweet smelling sugar and spice.
Waffles have ancient roots. The first known creation of a waffle related food has been traced back to ancient Greece where people were cooking flat cakes between metal plates as early as the 13th century BC. These were called oublies and were prepared with cheese and herbs. The obloyeurs used this method of cooking throughout the Middle Ages who created a variety of oublies. The oublies evolved into the waffle when a craftsman in the 13th century had the idea of reproducing some cookie plates to create the characteristic pattern of honeycombs. Called gaufres, it was derived from the Old French wafla.
The waffle made its journey across the Atlantic with the Mayflower, as the pilgrims brought the Dutch “wafel” with them. Since then waffles have grown in popularity, with street vendors selling hot waffles slathered with molasses and syrup throughout the New World. On August 24, 1869 the waffle iron, which was invented by Cornelius Swarthout was patented and till today this date marks the National Waffle Day in the USA. International Waffle day, known as Våffeldag, has its origins in Sweden and is celebrated on March 25th, marking the turning point from winter to spring.
As a matter of fact, all throughout the Nordic countries, the Scandinavian style waffles have become extremely popular. Thinner and made in a heart shaped waffle iron, Scandinavians enjoy their waffles with cream and an embellishment of preserves and jams.
The waffle obsession seems to be particularly strong in Norway. On my trip to Norway last summer I was surprised to see just how popular they were. Waffles are available just about everywhere and I was told that the famous Vafler are very much part of Norwegian tradition. Apparently, not a week goes by when waffles are not enjoyed in Norwegian homes. Typically, they are served as an afternoon snack, often with shavings of Brunost cheese, slatherings of cream and a dollop of preserve. Norwegian waffles are different from their American counterpart, as they are lighter, fluffier and richer and have a wonderfully crisp exterior with a soft and moist interior.
One will find several recipes for Norwegian Vaffler, my favorite however are the utterly delicious Rømmevafler. Sour cream adds a fantastic distinct tangy flavor to these waffles, making them purely irresistible. Norwegians typically use a very thick sour cream with a high fat content (35%), in consistency similar to crème fraîche. For my Rømmevafler I used “schmand” which here in Germany is a magnificent thick sour cream, with a fat content of 25% and very similar to Norwegian seterrømme.
Good substitutes for this thick sour cream could be crème fraîche or even a mix of normal sour cream hung overnight with a few tablespoons of cream cheese. It will not be the perfect match but you will come close to enjoying a Norwegian Rømmevafler.
In my version, I deviated from the traditional method of making Rømmevafler by adding grated Brunost cheese right into the batter. Usually Brunost is served in thinly shaved slices on top of the waffles. I drizzle a warm sticky caramel sauce over the waffles and make this a decadent treat. The dollop of cloudberry cream makes it tantalizing.
Cloudberries are those rare berries grown high in the cold northern climates of Scandinavia, and are the most delicious and costly of all berries, due to their limited growing area. They have a magnificent unique taste and preserves or jams made with this wild arctic berry are perfect with pancakes and waffles. The jars we brought back from Norway disappeared quickly, however as Tom is currently working on a project in Stockholm, I have an unlimited access to the berry goodness. I’ll save the story of Tom in a Swedish supermarket looking for cloudberry jam for another post.
If you are unable to find cloudberry preserve then use a lingonberry, cranberry or raspberry preserve instead.
Waffles do not get better than this and I am not just saying this because I seem to be partial towards most things Norwegian. I personally find the pairing of cardamom and the caramel flavors of the Brunost exceptionally unique, add to that the tangy sour cream and the fruity cloudberries and you’re getting a burst of flavors that work really well together. Soeren, Tom and I gathered around the table, forking segments into our mouths and reminiscing about the waffles we inhaled in Oslo, gorged in Bergen and drooled over in Stavangar last summer. And we began discussing if this summer we should do Norway, our way again!
Hope you all have an awesome week and a weekend filled with happy family time, fun friends and fantastic food. I’ll see you next week with a recipe that will make your kids forget about all fast food.
We’re going to be having a lot of fun this month as Sarah takes us through all shades of pink and wants us to Think Pink. Head on over to the announcement page for all the details and how you can join us for this quirky party.
The deadline is March 30th. Hope to see you there!
From Plate to Page
The prize? Two lucky winners get to attend the From Plate to Page residential workshop in Weimar from 20-23 May and participate in the many writing, styling, cooking and photography workshops that will take place over the weekend. The prize includes flights, airport transfers, accommodation and meals.
Want to know how you can enter? Just follow this link over to the IFBA competition announcement page for all the details.
You might like these ideas from WFLH:
|Fluffy Buckwheat Cottage Cheese Pancakes with a Touch of Thyme||Whole Wheat Pancakes with Nutella & Mangoes||Danish Braid with Chocolate Pastry Cream and Raspberries|
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