It happens sometimes that you start preparing something in the kitchen and then something completely different turns out of it than you expected. Maybe these are the occasions when amateur and professional cooks discovered a new method or recipe throughout the history and thanks to them we can experiment with more consciousness and with more securely estimated outcome. Still we can face surprises sometimes.
As you could already notice I am a big fan of old cookbooks. I have been hunting them in antique bookshops in the last decade and fortunately I have already a small collection of them waiting for experimenting on my bookshelves. Cooking from an old cookbook is like bringing to life the past with all its traditions, style and tastes. I like reading them in the evenings and last time I stopped at a sweet wafer recipe, and it has a reason, why.
If you are regular reader of Taste of Memories blog you might remember those cheese wafers that I baked with my grandmother’s 50 year old wafer-maker. At that time I asked my boyfriend, Áron to make one for me but he couldn’t be fast enough because my mother and grandmother found a place where they bought one for me: same size, cast-iron with wooden handles. The only difference is that it was not made in my home-town Veszprém, which is a pity but I hope it will still serve us at least for 50 years as my grandmother’s one did.
Of course I needed to try it so I prepared quickly a cheese wafer dough in order to try it first with a recipe with high fat content. It was a good decision: the first wafers sticked a little bit, but after a while it worked perfectly. So next step is baking sweet wafers, from 1871. I imagined the thin, crispy, light-brown wafers that I planned to fill with chocolate buttercream and make a wonderful napolitaner. Well, I was completely wrong, however it was really wonderful, but not napolitaner.
Before I started mixing the batter I called my grandmother to have our usual recipe-discussion that I like so much.
‘I would add some baking soda’- says Mami while I am reading the recipe for her- ‘and for God’s sake do not add as much milk as written “ to get a very thin crêpes batter”! It will pour out’, she adds with a worried voice because she imagined as the batter is spreading all over my gas burner.
‘Mami, anyway who knows what people thought of a “thin crêpes batter” in 1871’, I add than continue reading. ‘It says I should brush the wafer-maker with butter…’
‘Oh, no, no way! Of course with THAT butter, at THAT time! Not with this butter from today…Use sunflower oil instead!’, she advises.
So I start making the wafers. The batter doesn’t stick, the wafers get a beautiful light-brown colour and smell wonderful. But it doesn’t look and taste like I imagined at all. It is somewhere halfway between a crepe and a waffle. And it is amazingly good. The original recipe says you can add some ground almond to the batter. I don’t have almonds at home, but I have some walnuts. Why not trying it with walnuts? So I prepare another portion of batter, this time without baking soda and I add a spoonful of ground walnuts to it. It turns out to be even better, if possible. I call my grandmother shortly to report about the result.
‘Mami, it is heaven! But it is not crispy, and it is not a real wafer according to my opinion. Most probably it was in the 19th century….’
‘It doesn’t matter! If it is good, than good! I would like to have the recipe! ‘, she adds and we start laughing about the fact that we are going to start a cross-generation recipe exchange program.
While the kitchen will be piled up more and more “wafers- or something like that” it pops into my mind that I could actually spread some walnut cream between the wafers and pour over a nice chocolate sauce. So I did.
And we really didn’t regret it.
Wafers (or something like that) from 1871
250 g flour
2 pinch of salt
2 tbsp ground walnut or almond
2 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
2 pinch of ground cinnamon
300 ml milk
sunflower oil for brushing
Mix flour, cinnamon, salt and confectioner’s sugar. Beat the eggs lightly then add to the flour alongside with the milk. Stir it properly. Heat up the wafer- maker, it should be really hot. Brush it with oil, put a tablespoon of batter into the middle, close it and push it. I realised that I have to turn the wafer-maker as soon as I don’t hear that noise which is like releasing air from a balloon. I turn it, and bake it for a few minutes more.
150 g ground walnut
80 g sugar
125 ml milk
1 package of vanilla sugar
grated zests of a lemon
a handful of raisins finely chopped
Bring milk to boil, add sugar, walnut, vanilla sugar and raisins. Cook it for a few minutes until it gets thick. Finally add lemon zests.
For the chocolate glaze:
50 ml milk
1 heaped tsp. Dutch cocoa powder
30 g butter
70 g dark chocolate
1 tbsp sugar
Bring the milk to boil in a saucepan and add all the ingredients for the chocolate glaze. Stirring continuously cook it until it is smooth and shiny. If you find it too thick, add some extra milk.