A Dutch Staple
Updated: Dec 23, 2022
I think it was best summed up by saying the Dutch never wasted anything. It is true, a country that continuously fights to stay above water had a way of utilizing everything they had. And this is how the story goes about one of their most beloved treats – Stroopwafels. A baker from the city Gouda in 1837 had leftover dough and added cookie crumbs into the dough, put it in a waffle iron, pressed and sliced while still hot and layered with a caramel cinnamon syrup to sweeten. Many bakers line up to be called the first but, the bakery was called De Vier Heeren, which is still in operation today. Ultimately, they became a national staple as bakers across the Netherlands copied and sold them in marketplaces.
The name “stroopwafel” is derived from the Dutch words “stroop” (syrup) and “wafel” (waffle). Stroopwafels have become to be one of the most popular Dutch treats, on average each Dutch person eats around 20 a year! But also, it is one of the biggest exports. You can buy them worldwide, but they are of course best eaten fresh in the Netherlands. Two warm waffles are sandwiched together by sticky caramel to make these beauties. In traditional eating, stroopwafel is placed on top of a cup of hot coffee, tea, or chocolate, warming the waffle while it softens the syrup, causing it to be soft on one side and slightly crispy on the other. This is extremely delicious.
I took a traditional baking class at Woltje’s Backerij that started making Stroopwafels in 1853 in Volendam. The bakery is in a picturesque house sitting right on the dike. There they have preserved their wood-burning ovens downstairs and still produce from the same recipe. The founder and original baker was a woman who was a pillar of her community. At that time, Volendam was the most important fish market auction and supplier from the North Sea and Zuiderzee with the largest fishing fleet, therefore the men were at sea. With the original recipe she made it her own, calling it the Volendamse wafel. Nowadays, Woltje's uses the same base recipe but has expanded their variety with four categories caramel, speculaas/cookie butter (see note below), honey, and chocolate covered. They have only two branches the original in Volendam and of course, one at Schiphol so you can conveniently take them home fresh!
You can enjoy a stroopwafel in a variety of ways. Stroopwafel pancakes can be made by flipping them over and heating them on an open flame. Another option is to stack stroopwafel with cheese slices between two bread slices and grill until crisp. Now in Amsterdam you can find shops with incredible stroopwafels coming with a huge range of tempting toppings, making this place a veritable stroopwafel heaven. From chocolate and marshmallow-topped delights to mouthwatering kletskop-covered wafels, there’s something for everyone's with a sweet tooth.
Note* Another very Dutch flavor- Speculaas Spice Mix is often used in the Dutch cuisine during fall and winter. As soon as the weather starts to turn cold all kind of delicious recipes with Speculaas spices turn up. Originally, baked goods in animal shapes with Speculaas Spices were offered to the Gods to ask for a good harvest. With Christianity rising in popularity the baked goods changed into figurines of saints. The bishop of Myra, also known as Saint Nicholas was loved for all his good deeds for the poor and was therefore pictured frequently on baked goods. Nowadays baked goods containing Speculaas Spices are still served on Saint Nicholas Day. Americans got to know this iconic flavor from Delta airlines "Biscoff," cookies served on board.
7 oz Dutch Stroop (2/3 cup)
4 oz brown sugar (1/2 cup)
3 oz unsalted butter
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon table salt
2 oz whole milk (1/4 cup, warm)
2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast (7 g or 1 packet)
2 each large eggs (room temperature)
6 oz unsalted butter (melted)
5 oz granulated sugar (2/3 cup)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
15 oz all purpose flour (3 cups)
1. Combine the stroop, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and salt in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar and butter are melted and the mix just comes to a boil. Transfer the filling to a bowl and set aside to cool.
7 oz Dutch Stroop,4 oz brown sugar,3 oz unsalted butter,1 teaspoons ground cinnamon,1/8 teaspoon table salt
2. Combine the milk and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl. Use the beater and mix until the yeast is dissolved. Add the eggs, melted butter and sugar.
2 oz whole milk,2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast,2 each large eggs,5 oz granulated sugar,6 oz unsalted butter
3. With the mixer running on low, add the cinnamon and salt. Add the flour and mix until most of the flour is incorporated. Turn the dough out into a lightly floured surface and knead into a ball. The dough is quite soft.
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon,1/4 teaspoon table salt,15 oz all purpose flour
4. Divide the dough into 18 pieces, each piece should weigh about 50g. Roll each piece to a ball and line them up on a sheet pan. Cover with plastic wrap and set the dough aside for 1 hour.
5. Preheat the waffle iron. Take a ball of dough and flatten it to a disc. Place it on the waffle iron and close the iron.
6. Bake until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Use a fork to lift the waffle off the iron. Immediately use a knife with a thin sharp blade to split and open up the waffle. Generously spread the inside of the waffle with stroop (about a tablespoon) and sandwich the two halves together. Continue with the remaining dough.