If you are a fan of Norwegian waffles, you know that they are heart shaped, thinner and softer than the American version. We also don’t eat waffles for breakfast, rather we enjoy them with a strong cup of black coffee in the afternoon or evening, preferably in the company of good friends and family. The easiest and most widespread food to whip up when you have guests come over, is, in fact, Norwegian “vafler”! We love them slathered with butter and strawberry jam, or for a more decadent version; sour cream and strawberry jam which is a delicious combination of tangy and sweet.
For more history about the Norwegian waffle, you can go HERE to a previous blog post I did on this topic.
So while the above mentioned points might be common knowledge to “Norwegianophiles”, you might not haven known the following:
- There are few foods that exists that have as many different recipes as waffles. The first recognized recipes for waffle batter in Norway appeared in the early 18th century in Stavanger at the Kielland family library. The batter contained wheat flour, sugar, butter and eggs, as well as ground cardamom, mace, cloves, anise seeds and ginger. Today, many of these ingredients still show up in waffle recipes.
2. One variant that is not as widespread anymore is making waffles from porridge leftovers. It was commonly used by the farming community, because their daily diet consisted of porridge. Porridge leftovers often ended up in waffle batters along with flour, water or milk, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and eggs. The ingredients depended on what kind of porridge was included and how nice of a waffle batter one desired to make.
3. “Lompe”, bread of waffel? I refer to lompe as the ‘tortillas of Norway,’ you can read my blog post about them HERE. The classic combination is to serve a hot dog in lomper, but in the Norwegian town of Moss, serving hot dogs in waffles is a culinary classic. You’ll find this combination sold at soccer games there. The tradition is said to have started in the 1960s when a man by the name of Eyvind Hellstrøm ran out of lomper when he worked at his uncle’s hot dog and ice cream stand. His solution was to combine the waffles with the hot dogs.
4. Today, waffles in Norway are associated with “hygge” or cozy times throughout the year, but in the 13th century waffles were spoken about as a romantic meal in the churches of Paris during Easter celebration. Waffles were also used as a meal to break fast. According to author Kristin Solli Schøien, waffles stem back to the monasteries during the middle ages. Un-soured bread were baked during communion, and the alter breads were so tasty that they started making something they called apostle cakes for special holidays. These are said to be the predecessors to the waffles served at Norwegian seamen churches across the world today.
5. For Norwegians abroad, waffles are a symbol of both homesickness and a heartwarming treat, according to the Norwegian Seaman’s Church. For more than 150 years, the heart shaped waffles have served as a special trademark for what you can expect when you stop by the church. Every year, the 31 seaman’s churches all over the world compete over who makes the best waffles. In 2012 they made and handed out 27,500 waffles combined.
6. Waffles is a continuous symbol of thoughtfulness, also at home in Norway. Volunteers set aside time weekly to hand out free home made waffles to homeless people on the streets. The initiative from “Vaffelgutta” (The Waffle Guys) started in Oslo, but has quickly grown. Today they are providing free waffles to people in the cities of Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim.
7. Despite how un- Norwegian International Waffle Day sounds, the tradition stems back to our neighboring country, Sweden. The official explanation is that on March 25th, virgin Mary received the message from the angel Gabriel that she was to give birth to baby Jesus exactly 9 months later. This day was celebrated by eating cakes both in Norway and Sweden. Later on it become customary to have waffles.
A more creative explanation is that the day Mary got the message, was named “vårfruedagen” in Sweden (Our Lady’s Day), which got muddled into “vaffeldagen” in Swedish among the people…
8. No waffles without a special waffle iron. The particular checkered pattern of the iron stems from the 13th and 14th century and is said to be made by following a model for bees wax cakes in the beehives. The tradition of baking ‘cakes’ in this way stems back to the Greeks, according to Henry Notakers’ “Appetittleksikon” (Appetite Dictionary). The actual waffle iron was invented by the American Cornelius Swarthout and was patented on August 24th, 1869.
9. It’s actually not impossible to feed hundreds of people with just one waffel! The biggest waffle in the world was measured to be about 98 cm or 38.5 inches. The Guinness record from 2011 is held by Norwegian Joar Mortveit from Skjold. This record big waffle was baked in a gigantic waffle iron weighing 250 kilos (551 lbs). For every waffle, 10 liters (2.5 gallons or 42 cups) were used and each waffle took 20 minutes to bake.
10. If you live in the United States, you don’t have to necessarily visit seaman’s churches to eat waffles. The internationally known and successful Norwegian fashion company Moods of Norway have become known for selling their clothes and accessories worldwide, inspired by Norwegian traditions. They have also marketed Norwegian waffles by creating a waffle iron in the shape of a tractor. Below you can see how the waffles look after being baked in their iron.
Photo Credit: Krister Sørbø/VG
I hope you found these facts interesting, because I sure did! They are translated from the site godt.no and sourced from a variety of people and institutions.
I bet you are getting hungry for some Norwegian waffles now ! I’ve included a SUPER simple recipe below that you can throw together in a couple of minutes and the only kitchen equipment besides a waffle iron needed is a blender (or a food processor).
This recipe is both vegan and gluten free, but it tastes so decadent you wouldn’t believe that it’s a healthy version! Instead of eggs, I’ve included a banana, and oats take the place of wheat flour. I’ve subbed maple syrup for white sugar, though you can use any sweetener you’d like for a very similar result.
I hope you enjoy this quick and delicious recipe ! If you try it let me know in the comments what you think! Velbekomme!
SUPER SIMPLE AND HEALTHY NORWEGIAN WAFFLES
about 3 cups (700ml) old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/4 cup (300ml) water
1 1/4 cup (300 ml) plant based milk (I used almond milk)
1 large ripe banana
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp maple syrup
melted vegan butter (I love Earth Balance) for greasing the waffle iron
Throw all the ingredients in a high speed blender, alternatively use a stick blender or food processor, and puree until smooth. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. Heat up the waffle iron and bake according to the manufacturer’s direction.
Serve spread with butter and strawberry jam, or top with bananas, fresh berries, extra maple syrup or even plain! (Coffee optional, but that’s extra Norwegian:)