Thursday, March 26, 2009

Happy Vaffelsdagen

So one of the fun random things that happens in the pursuit of making dishes from all over the world is that people make random comments and they wind up leading us to try a new country or recipe that we would not ordinarily have tried. This is exactly what happened today, when I randomly was going through some older feeds on my Facebook account. An acquaintance--someone I hadn't spoken to in a number of years and who randomly friended me recently--made a comment yesterday that it was Waffle Day in Sweden on Wednesday and he didn't know it! Well, guess what? I didn't know it either!

I've been 'waffling' about Sweden a little bit. In 1995, my family hosted an exchange student from Sweden and it didn't work out. She did leave us with her Swedish meatball recipe, written in Swedish, which I have made in the past, so I knew I couldn't count that (plus the General doesn't really love them anyway), and I didn't know what else Sweden was famous for, despite being a convert to Ikea (there, Mike Williams, I said it, I like Ikea--you can verbally abuse me for it now, I deserve it).

So CJ's comment about Vaffelsdagen intrigued me. My dad is the world's best wafflemaker, he makes 'em from scratch, but is it possible the Swedes have a waffle recipe? So it is. But first a little background.

Vaffelsdagen is celebrated on March 25th each year in Sweden as the day in which the Archangel Gabriel appeared to the Blessed Virgin to let her know Jesus was coming. The holiday has progressed to include celebrating the first day of spring, and according to, "...on March 25th the women of Sweden would set aside their winter tasks like chopping wood and knitting, and began their spring tasks... the most notable of which was preparing waffles." Incidentally, Waffle Day is celebrated in the US on August 24th, the day the waffle iron received its patent. (One day after my birthday--darn it, I miss the good stuff!)

So despite the fact that we didn't have waffles on Vaffelsdagen, we decided to make up for it tonight, since we didn't have anything formally planned for supper. I found a recipe on which is of Swedish origin, initially appearing in the Feast Day Cookbook by Helmut Ripperger and Katherine Burton. If you would like the recipe, kindly visit this site.

What I really liked about this vaffel recipe was that it required few ingredients and not much in the way of cooking action. It did, however, require a lengthy resting period in the fridge. So I knew I'd have to get it ready early, so it could sit until the General got home, and then we could eat dinner at a normal hour. I had to go to the grocery store, so on my way home from work, I stopped at the local Ukrops, which is Fredericksburg's answer to Whole Foods/Fresh Fields organic type markets. This was fortunate in that I found several items I needed for my Turkish ashure pudding, which will be in April, and I enjoyed wandering the aisles looking at the overpriced foodstuffs that aging hippies and suburb-dwelling yuppies are willing to pay for. I did buy my sour cream there, which was one of the scant five ingredientes needed for these waffles.

As soon as I got home, I got to work. The first task was to add 3 tablespoons of ice cold water to 2 cups of sour cream. I bought one large container of sour cream, thinking it'd be plenty, but in all honesty, it wasn't. I think I came in at about 1/8 to 1/4 of a cup short. I figured if the batter seemed stiff, I would just add a little milk. I added the water to it and it looked kind of unpleasant sitting in water, so I quickly stirred it all together. I'm not sure what purpose this served, other than slightly thinning out the sour cream, but honestly I couldn't tell a difference.

After that, I sifted 1 1/3 cups of flour and a half teaspoon of salt into a bowl. I don't have a sifter so I use a fine sieve and just force it through there. The main point of sifting is to make sure there are no clumps of flour and other powdery ingredients so that your batter doesn't come out lumpy. And sifters hurt my hand when I use them. So a sieve it is.

Then I added in the sour cream/water mixture and mixed it all up. It did seem a bit thick, but I decided to leave it alone for a bit and see what happened. I popped it in the fridge and played Sims 2: Castaway for a while.

Ok, so the General came home and it was time to get cooking. The directions say to melt down a half a cup (one stick) of butter and add it to the cold batter from the fridge. Easy enough! I did so, melting the butter in a small pan on the stove and then stirring it into my batter. I briefly thought about using a whisk, but the batter was a bit thick and I didn't want it getting stuck in there, so I went with a wooden spoon.

And then it was time to cook 'em up! This is the only part of the process that made me even remotely nervous. Why? It's my waffle iron. I have the world's crankiest waffle iron. It was a wedding gift from my sister-in-law, and I registered for it because it makes heart shaped waffles, which makes me just *squee!* with delight. I mean, how cute is that?! And for a wedding gift?! Yeah, I know. I read the directions, which said when I first got it, I should grease the living hell out of it, and I would never have to grease it again. It is to laugh. I can grease it, I can not grease it, it doesn't matter. This sucker likes to have the batter adhere to it. So I get real nervous about what it's going to do. What I love about it besides the hearts is that it has a beeper that goes off when your waffle is cooked so that you don't have to try and lift it up to see if your waffle is done. It also has two different settings, one for uniform baking, one for crisp on the outside, soft in the middle (my preferred waffle setting), and of course a darkness level, much like a toaster.

I haven't used it in a while, so I decided that once it was hot, I would butter the living daylights out of it again just to be on the safe side. Once that was done, I put in a scant third of a cup of batter, as recommended in the waffle iron manual. it sizzled merrily away and then beeped at the appropriate interval of time. With trepidation, I opened the lid. Guess what!? It released like a pro!

Viva the vaffel!

I was so happy, you have no idea. I was like, "YES! Total vindication!" I don't know if it was the thickness of the batter or what, but I did not have trouble with one single solitary waffle. They were in, they were out, the maker and I were one. Of course, the traditional syrup of choice in Sweden is lingonberry syrup, and I looked at Ukrops and at the international food market (where I was shopping for my Philippines recipe) but no lingonberry syrup was to be found. I was damned if I was going to drive 25 miles up to Ikea where I'm sure they had it, but I'd be stuck in afternoon traffic, so we decided to go with the other traditional toppings--cinnamon, sugar, and syrup. I had gotten some free Sweet Cinnamon Sprinkle from my Pampered Chef party, so we decided to use that, plus a little dusting of powdered sugar and some light 'syrup'.

I made up some breakfast sausages on the side and we were ready to eat!

YUM! was all we could say for a while. The waffles baked up crispy and fluffy, perfect waffley texture. The sour cream gave them a slight tang that I might not ordinarily like, but in context with the sweet syrup and sugar and the bite of the cinnamon, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The General rated this recipe 2 thumbs up. We had a couple of waffles left over (our waffle iron is actually pretty small, and this made about 6 waffles) and he said he wanted them for breakfast tomorrow, so they are dressed and sitting in the fridge awaiting their fate! The only thing I would do next time is to add some fresh fruit on top. These made some EXCELLENT darned waffles. Not quite as good as my dad's, but honestly, the next best thing. If I have to make waffles again, this is my go-to recipe. YUM!

The General wants to try and squeeze in another country tomorrow and then we will do our big Italian feast on Saturday evening--dinner starts around 6pm for anyone who wants to come over!

Happy Belated Waffle Day!

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