Back to basics

Anyone who has eaten waffles with me (yes, there are enough of you out there!) knows that I am not a fan of chemical leaveners when it comes to the mighty waffle. As evidenced by my fave waffle recipes, I always use good old-fashioned yeast for an overnight rise if I want waffles in the morning (or an all-day rise if we’re having waffles for dessert after dinner).

However, I understand that this is not always practical, especially when you wake up in the morning, groggy-eyed, craving waffles with your morning coffee. I make waffles at least once a week, and I still sometimes forget to put the batter on the night before. So we end up having pancakes instead, which are still delish but sadly, not the same.

I decided that I needed to find a practical wake-up-in-the-morning-craving-waffles recipe, that utilizes those very chemical leaveners (i.e. baking soda and baking powder). I’ve tried many recipes that have let me down– even the typically foolproof Best Recipe had a shoddy recipe, resulting in the same dense, soggy consistency as in every other recipe. (And to make up for this, they actually suggest to use cornmeal in the batter to add crunch. Blasphemy!) I was getting desperate.

Then I came across Alton Brown’s basic waffle recipe from his episode about waffles. (After I met AB, I had actually emailed his production company requesting a waffle episode, and lo and behold, they came through! However, I was extremely disappointed– there was not a single recipe — or mention — of using yeast to raise waffles. Even AB let me down. I guess my crusade continues solo.) AB’s basic waffle recipe uses the same basics as a good pancake: buttermilk, baking powder and baking soda acting as the raising agents. But, wisely, Alton adjusts the ratios with the understanding that a waffle is fundamentally different from a pancake. (As an aside, I had never understood the term ‘waffle and pancake mix’ which is used for almost all mixes you find in the grocery store — and, no they do not typically adjust the ratios.)

Because he gets this distinction straight, his waffle recipe actually works, and produced the first genuinely crispy waffle I’ve ever made using buttermilk and chemical leaveners. I was psyched to have an alternative to an overnight batter. Keep in mind though: you must eat these waffles immediately, or they lose their crispness. Ten minutes out of the iron they will end up reminding you of those insipid diner waffles you were trying to avoid. As a recipe adjustment I did not use whole wheat flour– why try to make a waffle healthy? If I want a healthy breakfast I’ll eat muesli.

I know the Belgians eat waffles with powdered sugar, or whipped cream and fruit. I like it (especially as street food), but for breakfast I am American through and through: I just want to see syrup and butter on my plate. Serve these with good maple syrup. I am in paradise since our good friend Jason left Holland– in his moving chaos, he gave Kyle a huge bottle of Grade A Dark Amber maple syrup from Trader Joe’s that he had in his fridge. Maple syrup is hard to come by here (they prefer this vile molasses-like concoction called stroop instead), and dark amber is almost impossible to come by as expat and gourmet stores only seem to stock the more expensive light amber, which has less maple-y taste. So we’ll miss you Jason but thanks for the syrup!

Basic Buttermilk Waffles
adapted from Good Eats

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3 whole eggs
1/4 cup butter (half a stick), melted and cooled slightly
2 cups buttermilk at room temperature

  1. Preheat the waffle iron while you set about making the batter.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl.
  3. Separate the eggs. Whisk the yolks with the melted butter in a small bowl (make sure the butter is cooled enough that it won’t curdle the yolks). Whisk the egg whites into the buttermilk. Pour the butter/yolks into the buttermilk mixture and whisk well.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes.
  5. Ladle into your waffle iron as directed.
  6. Enjoy!

Crispy buttermilk waffles

Crispy Waffle:
Waffle Disaster! (with my favorite waffle recipe included)
Good Eats Fan Page: The Waffle Truth episode guide