What's Cooking: Knieperties

Knieperties (lit. "little pinchies"), also known as ijzerkoeken (iron cookies), are small crispy waffles, typical of the Northeastern part of the Netherlands (especially Groningen, Drenthe, Twente and the Achterhoek). They are called knieperties because they are made by pinching a dough ball with a hot waffle iron. Pinching is called "knijpen" in Dutch and "kniep'n" in Eastern Dutch dialects.

Knieperties are usually served around New Year. On New Year's Eve they are served as round flat cookies and on New Year's Day as little rolls known as "rollechies". The flat version symbolizes the completely unfolded year, and the rolls symbolize the new, still folded year that will slowly unfold over the coming 365 days.

In the 1800s it was common use to hand out knieperties to the poor on New Year's Day. Along with the knieperties quite some alcohol was served and the resulting New Year parties could become loud and messy. This inspired the mayor of Coevorden (Drenthe) to prohibit the handing out of knieperties. The new local rule was issued on December 22, 1770. However, it didn't have the desired result. The locals felt deeply offended that the mayor wanted to deprive the poor of their one day of happiness a year. Local kniepertie bakers, mostly women, armed with their waffle irons marched in anger to the town hall. They demanded the withdrawal of the new law. At first the mayor refused. However, when the mob became violent and the protest turned into a real revolt, he finally gave in. A military escort had to take him home to protect him from the waffle irons. The incident is still known as the "ijzerkoekenoproer" (iron cookies revolt) and ever since it took place no-one has dared prohibiting the New Year's knieperties feast.

Nowadays baking knieperties around New Year is still popular in the Northeastern Netherlands, especially in rural areas. However, they taste great whole year round, especially with whipped cream, ice cream or fruit.

Making knieperties dough is very easy. However, you need a Dutch waffle iron to make them. These irons have far less deep grooves than a Belgian waffle iron. Most American waffle irons are not suitable for knieperties because the deep grooves make it impossible to bake very thin waffles. Fortunately, you can also bake knieperties in a skillet. They won't have the waffle look, but will still taste the same.

(makes 50-60 knieperties)
2 cups (500 gr) all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cup (275 gr) caster sugar
1 cup (225 gr) butter
3 eggs
2 tsp (10 gr) cinnamon

1. Melt the butter but do not make it hot or boiling.
2. Add the sugar to the melted butter.
3. Add the eggs one by one while you stir.
4. Add the flour and mix until you get a dough you can form into balls.
5. Make about 50 to 60 balls from the dough and let them rest overnight in the fridge.
6. Grease your waffle iron and put a little dough ball in the middle. Squeeze the iron until the waffle is done. It should be light brown, very thin and about 13 cm (5 inches) in diameter.

If you do not have a Dutch waffle iron, roll the dough balls out with a dough roller until you have a thin round cookie of about 13 cm (5 inches). You can make a pattern with a skimmer if you like. Grease a skillet and when the butter is hot bake the cookies until light brown on both sides.

7. Let the waffles cool. Once cooled down they will become crispy.
8. If you want to make rollechies, wrap the waffle around the end of a spoon while it is still warm and flexible, and let it cool down. Once cold it will become a crispy roll.
9. Add fruit, ice cream or whipped cream to taste.