Holland House Fresh Dutch Waffles
PUBLISHED: 00:00 02 March 2016
Irma Lenehan is swapping words for a waffle iron with her new Dutch pancake business. Emma Mayoh reports
Journalist Irma Lenehan has spent almost two decades recounting the tales of other people. But now the 45-year-old, who worked for the Bolton News, is telling her own story through the food she makes.
Irma came up with the idea of launching Holland House Fresh Dutch Waffles less than a year ago and since then she has turned her kitchen into a microbakery. Every week you will find her slaving over her waffle iron making up hundreds of the crumbly, gooey treats ahead of the many farmers’ markets she attends. As well as looking into the heritage of the waffles, she also researched the different methods of making them. Irma is completely self-taught and took several months, with help from her mum, trying to fine tune the perfect recipe.
‘It took forever,’ said Irma, who moved to Lancashire in 1992 to study at the University of Central Lancashire. ‘I’ve never done anything like this before but I just ordered my waffle iron and off I went. I thought it would be something good to have a go at. At first it was an absolute disaster but I kept on experimenting and got my recipe. It’s really quite therapeutic making them.
‘Back home, stroopwafels are a really big thing. They taste different to ones you’d buy in a big name coffee shop. It’s something different in the UK; I don’t think there is anyone making them fresh like I do.’
Her new business idea was sparked by fond childhood memories in Holland. As a young girl she loved nothing more than going to the market and buying a bag of stroopwafel offcuts – her pocket money wouldn’t stretch to a bag of the real thing. But it was something that gave her great pleasure.
‘I used to go with my friends,’ said Irma, who now lives in Walton-le-Dale with children Jitske and Sanne. ‘There was a market at the weekends and I would have enough money for some waffle bits. You could get a bag for 25 cents. It was the highlight of my week.
‘They have always figured in my life. Even when I moved to the UK I would always bring some here with me after visits back home, or family and friends would bring them here for me. Stroopwafels were always the top of the list when people asked me what I wanted bringing over the Lancashire that reminded me of Holland.’
Irma’s waffles are flavoured with cinnamon, as is traditionally done, and they are filled with caramel or chocolate. Customers at farmers’ markets cannot get enough of the waffles – and neither can her daughters.
‘It’s street food, I can do it there on the spot and people can see me making them,’ said Irma. ‘It’s something people really like and there are few things better than being able to eat it right there when it’s just finished cooking. There is nothing better than coffee and stroopwafels.
‘My daughters really like them, as do their friends. I think we get people coming around the visit us even more often now because of it. I get a lot of pleasure out of it and people seem to really like them which is really good to see. It is a part of my heritage and I am very proud of it.’