Våfflor — Swedish waffles

by | Mar 20, 2020

Waffle-related accidents do happen.

In 1943, an inspector in the regiment of Västerbotten was entrusted with 10,000 SEK in cash. During his weekend permission, he decided to keep the money safe in a metal box in the far back of a baking oven.

Unfortunately, a group of soldiers started yearning for waffles.

Yes, I’m sure you can see where this is going.

After making a proper fire in the oven, the soldiers had a great waffle feast. When the poor inspector came back on Monday morning, only ash flakes remained of what would have been worth about 208,000 SEK today.

My waffle-kerfuffles haven’t been as serious, thankfully.

But let’s just say that it is a very good idea to grease the waffle iron well on both sides before you start making waffles. At least if you, like me, have an old-fashioned waffle-iron.

Otherwise, you’ll be cleaning the iron for a long time — far longer than it takes to watch this stop motion video that shows you how to make waffles:

Click here to skip straight to the waffle recipe.

A brief history of waffles

I should have read the instructions from Romble Salé from 1664, noting that the waffle iron shouldn’t be warm enough to smoke, or the waffle will burn. Salés shares three waffle recipes, including a sourdough waffle that supposedly is “entirely excellent and tasty”.

So, waffles have been a part of the Swedish diet since the 1600s – at least for those who could afford. After all, cream, butter, and flour were no ingredients for the poor. By the early 1900s, waffles seem to have been something enjoyed at events and outings, such as visits to Skansen. Also, waffles were quick to make if you got unexpected visitors coming for coffee. But in 1934, a column in Svenska Dagbladet complains about waffles becoming less common, noting to the waffles’ defense that they are excellent as desserts or for the coffee party.

Today, waffles can be eaten at any time, sure. But most waffles are probably eaten on Våffeldagen—Waffle day. That would be Annunciation day, on the 25th of March. A good excuse for a waffle, methinks.

våfflor - Swedish thin and crispy waffles

Milk… or beer?

A combination of milk and cream seems to be the most common choice in today’s waffle recipes. Milk, cream, sour cream or sour milk, buttermilk, water, sparkling water—there is no end to the liquids you can use (if you don’t have snow handy). Svenska Dagbladet’s Hiram claims that adding pilsner to the batter will make the waffles crispier.

But the ingredients in the waffles vary not just with taste but depend a lot on supply and finances. War-time recipes include oat flakes or barley flour and have little or no butter.

Then there’s the question of eggs. With egg or without? By adding eggs, you make the waffles more savory and filling, but less crispy.

Waffle-making at a home economics school in 1932. Photograph by Gunnar Sundgren/Upplandsmuseet.

The most Swedish ingredient ever?

I realize this will add to the stereotype of Swedes living on reindeer stew. Yet, it is irresistible.

Snow waffles.

Yes, a recipe from 1948 includes snow as an ingredient!

Well, speaking of waffle-related accidents… I am sure you’ll be meticulous in the sourcing of your high-quality snow, if you ever try these waffles.

But is snow just a funny ingredient, or does it have a purpose? Some sources claim that a cold batter will give you better waffles, so you can get similar benefits as from snow, just by chilling your ingredients.

swedish waffles - våfflor

How to make Swedish crispy waffles

Yeasted, or not? With eggs, or without? There are many ways to make waffles. If you also enjoy your waffles crispy, the best recipe I have found yet is from Johan Hedberg of Matgeek, and the following recipe is adapted from his. Just remember to put the waffle on a cooling rack before you serve it, so the steam escapes and doesn’t wilt the waffle.

100 g (1/2 cups) butter
4 dl (1 2/3 cups) flour (maybe slightly more)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 dl (0,8 cups) milk (cold)
1 dl (0,4 cups) cream (cold)
1 dl (0,4 cups) sparkling water (cold)

For frying: butter, for greasing the iron
For serving: berries or jam and whipped cream, or whatever you prefer

  1. Melt the butter.
  2. Sift the flour into a bowl. Add baking powder, salt, and sugar. Blend them with a wooden spoon or spatula.
  3. Add the melted butter, milk, and cream to the bowl. Stir with the spoon or spatula.
  4. Add the sparkling water and stir in. Don’t mix too well or whisk – you want the batter to be just blended. Check that the batter is the consistency you want it, or add a bit more flour or water as needed.
  5. Heat the waffle iron well. Grease it (both sides!) and add batter to bake your first waffle. Electric irons will let you know when the waffle is done. If you have an old-school iron, check in after a couple of minutes and turn it.
  6. Place the waffle on a cooling rack. Ideally, don’t stack them, but serve soon after baking.
  7. Feast.

Suggestions

Going through over a decade of Hiram’s waffle recipes, it is clear that she became increasingly firm on not serving waffles with whipped cream. Her reasoning is that if there’s cream in the waffles, you don’t need the extra calories. Well, I’d say, serve the waffles however you like. Berries or jam and whipped cream are the most common ways.

If you add an egg, they become more savory and are great for serving with prawns or roe as a starter.

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Hej och välkommen!

My name is Isabelle. Here at Swedish Spoon, you’ll find Swedish food history, tried-and-tested recipes, and a lot of obsessing over great butter. You can also expect some travel tips.

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