A few weeks ago, on March 25th to be exact, Våffeldagen, or “Waffle Day” was celebrated all over Scandinavia. In Sweden, Våffeldagen is considered to be quite an important holiday. On this day, one can find Swedish waffles in many households and at almost every cafe across the country. Although it is loved by Swedes of all ages who come from all different walks of life, many do not stop and think about the history of the treasured day. Originally, Våffeldagen did not have anything to do with waffles at all. Våffeldagen actually originated due to a mispronunciation of a different holiday that celebrated Virgin Mary’s conception: Vårfrudagen or “Our Lady Day” in English. Many took it as an excuse to eat waffles on that day, and since then, it has been recognized as Våffeldagen.
Some Swedes even argue that Våffeldagen marks the first day of spring. Throughout history, the farming community would celebrate that they had successfully made it through yet another cold, bleak Swedish winter on this day. Along with Swedish spring came access to more fresh eggs and milk, so celebrating by making waffles with the ingredients was non-negotiable.
Unlike Belgian and American waffles, Swedish våfflor are very thin. They are not sweet, which is why many tend to pair them with a condiment like jam. Additionally, Swedish waffles are less crispy than the more common Belgian waffles, and a Swedish-style cast iron waffle pan that shapes the waffles into what looks like tiny hearts is typically used. Nevertheless, this recipe works just as well with any other type of waffle maker.
Even though my family has lived in Texas for almost 10 years now, they still make sure to keep the Swedish traditions alive. We like to eat våfflor with lightly whipped cream and drottningsylt, which translates to “queen jam” in English. It sounds quite fancy, but drottningsylt is actually just a mix of bilberries and raspberries. It might be difficult to find at an American grocery store, however, IKEA typically carries a good version of the jam along with other flavors like cloudberry and blueberry jam. If you do not want to make the trek all the way to IKEA, regular strawberry or raspberry jam works just as well. We usually whip up the heavy cream at home, as we find it tastes more authentic than canned whipped cream. It is relatively easy to do with an electric mixer, but mixing the heavy cream for too long will increase the likelihood of it turning into butter—I have made this mistake one too many times.
A few years ago, my mom found a new Swedish waffle recipe in one of her favorite food magazines, and ever since that day, it has been my family’s go-to recipe for våfflor. Instead of regular bleached flour, the recipe asks for spelt flour. Sometimes also referred to as dinkel wheat, spelt flour is an ancient grain that has been used as a staple food since ancient times. Unlike other types of flour, spelt flour has a unique, nutty taste, serves as a great source of fiber, and contains many key nutrients. Many people find that spelt flour is also easier to digest than regular flour, which is why it has become one of my favorite flour alternatives.
4 ounces unsalted butter
⅘ cup whole milk
1 cup water
½ cup rolled oats or ½ cup finely grated carrots (or add half the amount of both).
***I find that Trader Joe’s brand of old-fashioned rolled oats works the best as they are thin enough to create the perfect, soft Swedish waffle texture. Adding grated carrots will help moisten the waffles and give them a beautiful, yellow-orange color.
1 and 4/10 cups strained white spelt flour
2 pinches table salt
2 teaspoons baking powder.
*** It is important to not mistake baking powder for baking soda, which is pure sodium bicarbonate. Unlike baking soda, baking powder contains acid, so it does not need to react with other acid ingredients to become “activated.”
Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat. The butter should be fully melted, but not burned.
Remove the butter from the head and add the milk, water, and rolled oats or grated carrots.
Mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a separate bowl before adding this mixture to the rest of the ingredients.
Let the mixture rest for about 15 minutes. During this time, preheat a waffle iron.
Add some of the batter to the iron and cook until the waffle is golden brown on both sides. Make sure the middle of the waffle is cooked through. .
*** You can keep the waffles hot by putting them on a baking sheet on the middle rack of an oven set to 200°F.
Plate the waffles with some berries, jam, and lightly whipped cream and serve!
Cover Photo Courtesy of Norrtable